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ROAD TO SUPER BOWL 50 – EUROPE’S BEST-SELLING NFL JERSEYS

The race to Super Bowl 50 is well and truly on, with under a month to go until the American football spectacular, to be held in the heart of Silicon Valley at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

With the Playoffs in full swing and set to captivate NFL fanatics worldwide, fans have clamoured across the season to secure their favourite team and player replica jerseys; many in preparation for the play-off action ahead.

With this in mind, we have taken the website’s top-selling personalisation choices for 2015 and pitted them against each other in the traditional NFL post-season bracket form to create our own NFL personalisation play-offs - with some eye-opening results.

Five top names from the American Football Conference and five from the National Football Conference secured their berths; with the further x-factor of consolidated custom printing for fans of teams across the AFC and NFC. Did the option for ANY NAME, ANY NUMBER prove more popular during 2015 than the NFL’s biggest and baddest stars? The fans of the sport have spoken - but is their loyalty to a favourite side specifically, or is it more closely aligned to one individual player?

With all the movers and shakers firmly in place, we are proud to present the complete brackets for our 2015 season sales, with notes on all 11 collisions in the chase for our customisation crown.

WILDCARD ROUND

AFC Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins) vs Julian Edelman (New England Patriots)

Our opening AFC clash between 4th seed Tannehill and 5th seed Edelman proved to be the closest affair in the wildcard round, with the Miami Dolphins quarterback squeezing past the 2015 Super Bowl champion by a mere 38 sales. Edelman’s regular season was curtailed in November by a metatarsal injury, which may have affected his sales in the run-up to the Christmas period. Tannehill meanwhile had completed a run of 25 consecutive completed passes in October (an all-time NFL record) and while his Miami side did not reach the actual NFL play-offs, the iconic Dolphin brand remained strong throughout their 50th season. This was particularly the case in the United Kingdom, as the Dolphins enjoyed home status in the inaugural divisional game at Wembley on October 4.

AFC Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots) vs Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos)

Despite his fourth regular season with the Broncos being blighted by injuries and inconsistent form, AFC 6th seed Manning accomplished the 2015 milestone of passing Brett Favre to become the NFL’s all-time leader in career passing yards. Upholding his popularity with long-term fans as his decorated career approaches its final stage, the veteran star remained a sentimental favourite in 2015. Meanwhile, starting the season hot with three touchdowns in New England’s home opener with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the tight end known affectionately as Gronk helped drive the Patriots into the playoffs, as the Massachusetts franchise continued its quest for a second consecutive NFL title. The leading seed to charge his way into our wildcard round, Gronkowski ultimately shot past The Sheriff by a total of 348 sales across the course of the 2015 season.

NFC Marshawn Lynch (Seattle Seahawks) vs NFC Odell Beckham Jr. (New York Giants)

While the Giants would not make it to the post-season, Odell Beckham Jr. proved to be one of the most in-demand stars of the calendar year, making the cover of Madden NFL 16 after a landmark rookie campaign. Following a 2014 season that saw fans rush to pull on the jersey of the fledgling wide receiver, hopes were high for Beckham Jr. in 2015; but the wildcard stage is as far as the New Orleans native would advance in this tournament. Instead, leaving Odell mowed down in his wake, Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch would activate Beast Mode to roll over Beckham Jr. by a margin of 94 sales. Even a hiatus for hernia surgery would not curtail demand for Lynch apparel, as the Skittles-chomping, interview-dodging, opponent-clattering running back stampeded to our divisional round.

NFC NFC Custom (various) vs Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)

Our final wildcard game sees the ultimate wildcard enter, as we compile your own unique name and number choices across the range of NFC teams to create the formidable force of NFC Custom. Opponent Cam Newton formed part of a fearsome Carolina side which put together the season’s longest winning streak; a run of 14 games from September kick-off to Christmas that saw the Panthers eventually end the season with a mighty 15-1 record. Having signed a monster five-year, $100+ million deal in the summer, quarterback Newton had demonstrated his value in no short order, racking up a slew of statistical feats and earning five separate NFC Offensive Player of the Week awards; something achieved only once before, by a certain Mr. T. Brady. However, not even a player in such form in such an in-form team could contend with the NFC Custom’s shared might, with Newton beaten by 372 sales across a wide variety of name, number and team combinations.

DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

AFC Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins) vs Tom Brady (New England Patriots)

The top seed in the American Football Conference and third Patriot in contention, the evergreen Tom Brady ended Tannehill’s victory aspirations by a whopping 1,192 sales; making his the highest winning margin in our entire series of NFL jersey jousts. The result mirrors New England’s 36-7 blowout win over Miami in October, a game that saw the celebrated quarterback throw for 356 yards while providing four touchdowns). In his 16th year in Patriot colours, Brady shown little to no sign of slowing down, with shirt sales in 2015 providing a clear indication of the enduring appetite for the famous Brady Patriots jersey.

AFC AFC Custom (various) vs Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots)

Despite a Super Bowl ring from last year’s game in Phoenix and two AFC titles to his name, Gronk met his match in our divisional play-off round, as our army of AFC Custom’s shirts enters the competition as one. Using the same principles as their NFC counterparts, the host of original name and number combinations chosen for AFC teams proved to be greater in sales than Gronkowski’s wildcard-winning tally; though the relatively slender difference of 172 demonstrates the sheer volume of shirts shifted by Gronk across the 2015 season.

NFC Marshawn Lynch (Seattle Seahawks) vs Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)

The #1 seed at the head of the NFC pack, Green Bay quarterback Rodgers made an immediate impact in our competition, with a divisional round win over Lynch by 360 sales in total. Among the highlights of A-Rod’s 2015 was last-gasp Hail Mary pass for the match-winning touchdown in the thrilling 27-23 comeback win over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. The Packers had trailed at one time by twenty points to zero, with Rodger’s desperation pass the longest of its nature in the history of the NFL, at some 61 yards in total. Despite coming in the final month of our figures window, this epic moment, dubbed ‘The Miracle in Motown’, will surely have handed Rodger’s a significant sales boost.

NFC Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) vs NFC Custom (various)

Left to fly the flag as the last of the Seattle Seahawks, National Football Conference second seed Wilson ended our divisional stage in dramatic style, defeating the combined capabilities of NFC Custom by a mere 12-sale margin. The closest contest of the entire competition, some may see this result as an upset, yet Wilson’s season was peppered with events to capture the fans’ imaginations. Among the absolute best, the 27-year-old MVP candidate became the only quarterback in history to throw at least three touchdown passes in five consecutive NFL games, validating his status at the sport’s second-highest paid player in the process.

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

AFC Tom Brady (New England Patriots) vs AFC Custom (various)

In the battle for AFC supremacy, a clash of epic proportions pitted Brady against the world, or as close as our format permits. With six conference title to his name, only a player of Brady’s championship calibre could square up to AFC Custom and the appeal of ANY NAME, ANY NUMBER across its 16 teams. As it was though, the contest proved no contest; the New England Patriot slamming the competition by 736 units to reach our sales Super Bowl in emphatic style. As 12 months ago, the big game beckoned for Brady; and only the brave would bet against repeat success for the AFC’s last man standing.

NFC Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) vs Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)

Our NFC finale saw Green Bay’s Rodgers and Seattle’s Wilson go nose-to-nose in one of the tournament’s most exciting and unpredictable collisions. In this case, sales would ultimately again reflect the on-field action, with A-Rod having won their September meeting, throwing for two touchdowns in the Packers’ 27-17 defeat of the Seahawks in Wisconsin. Despite having one fewer actual NFC championship title to his name, Rodgers proved therefore to be a higher-selling star in the 2015 season, booking his trip to our Super Bowl as the NFC’s representative by some 255 sales.

SUPER BOWL 50

NFL Tom Brady (New England Patriots) vs Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)

Conjuring up memories of 1997’s Super Bowl XXXI at the Superdome in New Orleans (the only meeting of Packers and Patriots on the NFL’s grandest stage), our own take on Super Bowl 50 would be appropriately settled by 550 sales. On paper, this showdown seems a fitting finale, a battle between two two-time NFL MVPs. However, despite a Super Bowl win and MVP honours on his resume, Rodgers was unable to continue his success in our own finale, five years on from his milestone outing at Super Bowl XXXV in Texas. Instead, New England’s four-time Super Bowl champion and three-time MVP came through as the decisive winner of our name and number tournament - and we can reveal that the Brady accounted for some 10% of all NFL jersey sales in 2015. No one player is bigger than their team, but Brady’s standing with jersey buyers is in a league of its own, with our outcome confirming him as a cut above all others in head-to-head competition.

OVERTIME

You’ve seen which players have proved most popular with fans in 2015, but is your personal favourite missing from the list? Or would you prefer to wear your own name and number, as you follow the NFL play-offs? To secure your personalised jersey for the post-season, visit our online shop, where a host of customisation options are available. Meanwhile, stay tuned in the run-up to Super Bowl 50, as we return to our findings to celebrate the top-selling legends and rookies of 2015.