Puppy Bowl preview: Expect Team Fluff to take home the Lombarky Trophy

·4 min read

It's that time of the year that all employers dread. On Monday morning, millions of football fans will call in sick after a raucous night of celebrating Puppy Bowl XVIII. The employees who do show up to work won't be much more productive, spending most of their day browsing championship merch online or hanging around the water cooler, saying things like, "Yes, Rocket is a good boy — I just don't think he deserved Most Valuable Puppy."

I expect Team Fluff to rebound in a big way after last year's heartbreaking loss to Team Ruff. I've already bet dinner on a Team Fluff victory, and I'm feeling great about my wager. Let's dive into why:

The coaches

In addition to serving as hosts for the televised event, Snoop Dogg will be coaching Team Fluff and Martha Stewart will coach Team Ruff. Snoop has years of experience under his belt as a football coach, but you have to wonder how focused he'll be in this game, considering he's also performing in the halftime show of a Super Bowl where his Los Angeles Rams are 4-point favorites over the Cincinnati Bengals. Stewart may not be Bill Belichick, but she's literally the craftiest person on earth. Her nurturing spirit makes her a player's coach, which is handy since all these doggos come from animal shelters. Team Ruff gets the slight edge in this category.

The players

Coaching and analytics can only take you so far. Everyone knows that the Puppy Bowl is won on the field. The team with the best roster is usually the team that walks away with the Lombarky Trophy. Here's a breakdown of some of the players we'll see on Sunday:

Cooper Pupp (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)
Cooper Pupp (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)

Cooper Pupp, Team Fluff

This puppy didn't come to play. He came to business. Some call him the Michael Jordan of the Puppy Bowl, but it would be more accurate to call Michael Jordan the Cooper Pupp of basketball.

Olive (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)
Olive (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)

Olive, Team Ruff

Mark Twain said, "It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog." Well, this dog is 0-for-2.

Kirby (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)
Kirby (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)

Kirby, Team Fluff

This is your prototypical Most Valuable Puppy — large frame, boundless energy but sits on command and has floppy ears to draw penalties.

Biff  (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)
Biff (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)

Biff, Team Ruff

I try not to be too harsh in what I write about players. I understand that they're just doing their job and they have families who read this stuff. But, man. Biff is such a liability when he's on the field. He couldn't even make his school's JV squad and now he's going to try and play with the pros on national television? The more playing time he logs, the less of a chance Team Ruff has to win.

Patsy  (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)
Patsy (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)

Patsy, Team Fluff

This German Shepherd/Chow Chow mix is looking for a forever home, but she'll be living in the end zone on Sunday.

Pongo (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)
Pongo (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)

Pongo, Team Ruff

To say that Dalmatians have a spotty history in the Puppy Bowl would be too kind. They spend most of the game laying around bored. When they do get involved, their temperament often leads to a rash of penalties. You never want to experiment in the big game, but I think a good strategy for Snoop would be to start with a lineup of all Dalmatians and let them feed off each other. Either you score a lot of early touchdowns, or you rack up a bunch of penalties for aggressive behavior. Set the tone for the game and let the opponent know that they're in for a long, hard battle.

Pudding  (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)
Pudding (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)

Pudding, Team Fluff

They could barely even get the bandana on Pudding. Some people are speculating it's because she isn't a team player, but I think she's just excited to play the game she loves.

Odell (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)
Odell (Photo credit: Dogist/Animal Planet)

Odell Barkham, Team Ruff

We're all aware of the spectacular one-pawed plays Odell Barkham is capable of. Now imagine him using all four in Sunday's game. I'm on Team Fluff, but I think it makes sense to pick Odell Barkham to win Most Valuable Puppy. What about him and Odell Beckham. Jr. to win MVP in the Super Bowl?

The Puppy Bowl airs Sunday, Feb. 13, at 2 p.m. ET on discovery+ and Animal Planet.