March Madness is the most popular gambling event in the country and the NFL is our most popular professional sports league. So why not combine the two and have a little fun?
Over the next couple of weeks, SB Nation NFL has made it our mission to determine which player has the earned the right to be called "The Face of the NFL." Thirty-two players have been divided into four different regions, which are organized based on the NFL's divisional alignment.
So, what exactly does "The Face of the NFL" mean? We've left in purposely vague. You might base in on wins and rings (Tom Brady). Others could care more about endorsements or charisma (Cam Newton). To some, it might be all about the individual stats (J.J. Watt).
He can be an ambassador for the sport, a nice guy who plays hard and gives back to the community (Larry Fitzgerald). Or, maybe you think nothing screams "NFL" more than a player who dominates on the field and has a past indiscretion off the field that still makes your skin crawl (Adrian Peterson).
Maybe it's the kind of thing you can't define, but you know it when you see it. Whatever your taste, there's no easy answer to this question -- which is what makes it worth asking.
First-round voting is now closed, but come back on Tuesday to see who advanced to our Sweet 16.
Here are the rankings for the 32 players in the tournament:
No. 1 Tom Brady vs. No. 8 Darrelle Revis
No. 2 Odell Beckham Jr. vs. No. 7 Dez Bryant
No. 3 Rob Gronkowski vs. No. 6 Ndamukong Suh
No. 4 Eli Manning vs. No. 5 Tony Romo
Rob Gronkowski. Sure, he's a 3 seed. But everyone loves Gronk. The guy just commissioned a booze cruise seemingly for the sole purpose of meeting girls, and everyone just sits back and laughs at his antics. Brady might be No. 1 overall, but plenty of people would love to see him go down. Gronk, on the other hand, is adored by everyone, inside of New England and out.
Matchup to watch
Brady is a strong No. 1 seed, in theory. He's got the stats and titles, the crossover appeal and the good looks. The problem: the majority of people outside of New England absolutely despise him and would love to see him go down early. Revis has beaten him before. Maybe he can pull off the upset again.
It's tough to find a good one in this bracket. Dez Bryant is a strong candidate, but Odell has the "fun" factor working for him. Manning and Romo are both semi-polarizing. As in real life, Suh is the chaos candidate, and those looking to stomp on Gronk's parade of fun could go that direction. If you have to go with one though, the best option would be Romo, who might be able to ride the Cowboys' popularity to a few victories.
No. 1 Russell Wilson vs. No. 8 Philip Rivers
No. 2 Larry Fitzgerald vs. No. 7 Carson Palmer
No. 3 Von Miller vs. No. 6 Justin Houston
No. 4 Richard Sherman vs. No. 5 Eric Berry
It's impossible to dislike someone like Larry Fitzgerald even if he's done considerable amount of harm to your favorite football team on the field. Disliking Fitzgerald is like disliking all of the great things about football. He's only the second seed because he's slowed down in recent seasons, while Russell Wilson seems to be getting bigger and bigger (and weirder and weirder) and there are many who would like to see him go down.
Matchup to watch
Take your pick -- the Arizona Cardinals angle between Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer, two top-tier pass rushers going head-to-head, and even a battle in the secondary. But let's go with the teammate matchup between Fitzgerald and Palmer. Fitzgerald has meant so much to the organization over the years, but Palmer has made them relevant again with his surprisingly strong play.
Berry did something brilliant and amazing when he battled back from Hodgkin's lymphoma and returned to the football field in 2015. Not only that, but Berry picked up right where he left off as one of the best safeties in the league and was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He's a lower seed in this bracket, but Richard Sherman, one of the best players AND talkers in the NFL, could be in trouble.
It's difficult to not put Cam Newton at the top of the list. In addition to being the reigning MVP, he set a number of records in 2015. Perhaps Newton's most impressive game came Dec. 20, when he became the first quarterback in history to throw for 340 yards and rush for 100 yards in the same contest.
But what really sets Newton apart is his flamboyancy on the field. Whether he's giving away footballs to kids in the stands after Panthers touchdowns or defending his crown as the NFL's king of the dab, Newton's antics are just as attention-grabbing as his stellar play.
Oh, and those pants. They're .... ummm ... something, all right.
With all of this adulation, it's no surprise Newton had the second best-selling jersey last season behind Tom Brady. One would be hard-pressed to find a more popular player in the league right now, though like Newton, J.J. Watt has a huge fan base -- and a lot of detractors.
Matchup to watch
Drew Brees vs. Andrew Luck is the classic battle between the present and the future. The 37-year-old Brees is still close to the top of his game, leading the league in passing yards in each of the last two seasons. He's also arguably the most important player in Saints history, leading the team to its only Super Bowl win and helping to resurrect the franchise after Hurricane Katrina.
Brees' resume is beyond impressive, but his time may be up. It's easy to discount Luck after an injury shortened 2015 campaign, but the 2012 No. 1 overall pick did lead the league in touchdown passes just two years ago. A Stanford graduate who is the heir apparent to Peyton Manning shouldn't be overlooked
It's difficult to find one here, but Julio Jones could fit the bill. Newton and Watt will receive most of the attention in this bracket, but Jones' dynamic athleticism and eye-popping numbers mean he's a fixture on highlight reels all season long.
The 2011 No. 6 overall pick led the league in receptions and touchdowns last season and has made the Pro Bowl three times in his career. If Watt's social media presence and Newton's outspokenness rub some voters the wrong way, Jones could enjoy a deep run in the South Region.
Quarterbacks garner all the love, and few have accomplished more than Aaron Rodgers. No player besides the Green Bay Packers' signal caller has won multiple MVP awards over the last five years, and he has a Super Bowl ring to boot. He also gets to face off against Jay Cutler in the first round.
Matchup to watch
The other major inter-division matchup of the North Region pits a pair of Super Bowl winners against each other: the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger vs. the Ravens' Joe Flacco. Roethlisberger has more hardware and greater respect around the league, but Flacco has beaten long odds before.
No wideout has proven more productive in recent years than Antonio Brown, arguably the best player at the position. His importance to the Steelers is unquestioned, as their title hopes took a significant spill after Vontaze Burfict nearly took off his head in the AFC Wild Card round. Brown makes the incredible seem routine and has as much fun on the field as anyone outside the Gronkowski family.