Pick ‘Em: Choose NFL’s Divisional Round Winners Based On City’s Best Bands

Sure we could consider Vegas’s lines, previous matchups, analysis by FootballOutsiders, Bill Barnwell, Peter King, or pray to Paul the Olympics Octopus …but we decided to leave the oddsmaking to the oddsmakers and instead compare the music from cities competing in the Divisional Round this weekend.

In some cases, we had to weigh different scenes: Seattle’s grunge rock versus Atlanta’s hip-hop, but try to put your preferences aside and compare the overall impact of bands/artists as a whole. (How’s that working out for you?). We’ve got an awesome “anthem” match-up between Baltimore and Denver, and avoided a major mismatch between San Francisco heavyweights and Green Bay wedding bands, thanks to our adoption of a Milwaukee troupe. Without further adieu… Atlanta versus Seattle after the jump.


Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images, Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Usher, Lil JonLudacris and T.I. represent only a few of the stars among Atlanta’s flourishing, hip-hop scene, pretty much the U.S.’s mecca. We chose Usher for the photo because he looks cool in his headset, he’s been doing it so long now, boasts nine #1 hits, but not because he gave birth to Justin Bieber. Throw in crunkmaster Lil Jon; T.I. and Ludacris, it’s a murderer’s row of game-changing, young and veteran chart toppers and there’s not even room to discuss the city’s vibrant R&B and soul scene.


Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images, Otto Greule, Jr./Getty Images

Props to Dave Grohl for entering the ballot on two different cards — Foo Fighters and Nirvana. Shameless “MTV Unplugged in New York” drop HERE. Add to Seattle’s representatives grunge pioneer Pearl Jam, plus Seattle hip-hop stars Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, pictured at right singing his Mariner’s anthem “My Oh My” at Safeco Field while simultaneously appearing to pull the string on a curveball. Some pretty strong sounds out of Seattle, a city feeling pretty good about itself with signs that an NBA team will return to town, and the recent passage of Washington’s bill sanctioning recreational marijuana use.


San Francisco

Photos: andrenickatina.com, Faulty Products/Alternative Tentacles

Before you soil your pants or scream obscenities, there’s a reason you don’t see images above showing 2Pac, Digital Underground,  E-40, MC Hammer, Mac Dre, Too $hort and so on. They’re all from other parts of the the San Francisco Bay Area– mostly Oakland — and we must reserve them for 2028 when the Raiders make playoffs again. First up for San Francisco is rapper/producer Andre Nickatina (at left, formerly Dre Dog), a local legend who grew up in S.F.’s Fillmore District. He broke into hip-hop in the early-to-mid-nineties with albums “The New Jim Jones” and “I Hate You With a Passion”, the latter of which reached #3 on Billboard’s Heatseeker chart, an honor also attained by his 2003 album “Conversation With a Devil.” Filling out Frisco’s roster are the little-known Grateful Dead and Dead Kennedys, plus up and coming eccentric Lil B.

Green Bay

Photos: Daoud, Mo; Rhino Records

And in this corner of the ring… 40 OZ Faceplant and its hit song “Just the Tip.” That’s a real band and real song, by the way, and clearly we had to pick them because 1) no native Green Bay band has managed to achieve national recognition and 2) because they have a song titled “Just the Tip.” That said, the band is pretty good! So check them out.  Also consider Coo Coo Cal, who reached #1 on Billboard’s Hot Rap Singles in 2001 with “My Project,” as well as Milwaukee’s Violent Femmes, alt-rockers who broke up in 2007 and sold roughly 10 million albums during their nearly thirty-year run.


In a post loosely based on football it’s appropriate to start with the band Elway, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, about 60 miles north of Denver. Broncos legend John Elway‘s representatives tried and failed to force the self-proclaimedlittle punk rock band” to change its name. So Elway they remain, and they’re a pretty solid group that writes lyrics “ranging from that of the sad sap to the indignant atheist with a bevy of homespun dick jokes.” Nice. Meanwhile Denver is home to The Fray, a big commercial success whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em. Also, Big Head Todd and the Monsters! (Originated in Boulder but began touring in Denver.) But we’d like you to pay special attention to the “Broncos Anthem,” feat. Denver rapper Innerstate Ike, complete with Manning’s audibles and verses like: I throw the ball to Thomas/ I call him DT/Mile High sature you when he get a TD.


On the other side of the Anthem Battle, for the underdogs… Bossman‘s “Oh”! It’s more of a Baltimore club anthem and less about the Ravens, but the men of black and purple get plenty of love. Bossman references Baltimore R&B and soul luminary Dru Hill and separately, Sisqó; also look out for rapper Los, who recently signed on with Diddy’s label. Last but most hardcore, give a nod to road warriors Misery Index.


New England

Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images

The New England Patriots claim Bostonites so we’ll extend the courtesy to Boston’s Aerosmith, Boston (!), Dropkick Murphys, Marky Mark and the Funky BunchGang Starr‘s Guru (RIP). From Roxbury, Massachusetts, (MC) Guru comprised one-half of the successful East Coast hip-hop duo, along with Houston’s DJ Premier, below. If not from their powerful catalog spanning the late ’80s to early ’00’s, you may recognize Guru’s voice as 8-Ball in Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. Or maybe you were too busy murdering cabbies to notice.


Photo: Getty Images; Scott Gries

Do you wanna mess with this? Gang Starr’s DJ Premier, Beyoncé, Chamillionaire and oh yeah, rock legends and very well-bearded ZZ Top. The cherry on top: Beyoncé is performing at this year’s Super Bowl; here’s hoping for a wardrobe malfunction. Take Mrs. Carter and the points? You tell us.

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Brett Smiley (@brettsmiley) is 40OZ Faceplant’s new biggest fan.