The Watchable 20: Sport’s most entertaining teams

Nearly 500 regular season games will air in Canada as part of the blockbuster 12-year agreement between Rogers Communications and the NHL. (Tom Mihalek/AP)

So your favourite team isn’t playing, but there are plenty of sports on TV. What are you going to watch? Are there certain players you gravitate toward? Particular teams who offer something – be it a unique approach to the game or a club that can’t seem to help but compete in close contests – that keep you tuning in? A jersey or colour scheme that’s appealing to the eye? Sheer greatness or staggering ineptitude?

It all boils down to one overriding factor: Watchability.

So with that in mind, we present the Watchable 20 – otherwise known as The 20 – a recurring ranking of the 20 most watchable teams across pretty much every major league and sport. Excitement matters. Scoring matters. Stars matter. Big plays matter.

And your opinion matters. Did we miss out on one of your favourites? Disagree with our choices? Make your case for the teams you’d rather watch in the comments below, or tweet @sportsnet with #Watchable20. We’ll hear you.

The Watchable Twenty:

1. Arsenal – The Premier League’s top club has been winning in style. I mean, did you see the calibre of goals the Gunners produced this weekend?

2. Denver Broncos – If they aren’t decimating opponents behind the arm of Peyton Manning and the most talented receiving corps in football, the Broncos are competing in storyline and tension-filled matchups like Monday night’s loss to the Colts in Manning’s return to Indy. Either way, you’re tuning in.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins – Too much firepower for any team to contain. Sidney Crosby gets the NHL’s version of the Peyton Manning Early Season Award: When a future all-time great is on a roll like this, you make it appointment viewing.

4. Chicago Blackhawks – A deep front nine led by human highlight reels Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the ‘Hawks have continued in October from where they left off in June.

5. Texas A&M – Never mind the high-octane wins against the likes of Sam Houston (65-28), SMU (42-13), and Rice (52-31). In their last three games the Aggies have outscored opponents 127-116, meaning plenty of touchdowns and close finishes. Meanwhile, Heisman winner Johnny Manziel has already thrown for 2,289 yards and 18 touchdowns (just eight fewer than all of last year).

6. Boston Red Sox – As long as John Farrell’s crew keeps deciding late-inning playoff games with grand slams, they’ll have a home on this list.

7. New Orleans Saints – With the defence to match what has long been established as one of the highest-octane offence in the NFL, the Saints boast the added bonus of half of their games going right down to the wire.

8. Swansea City – As fun a team to watch as there is in football, between top scoring Spaniard Michu and Canadian Jonathan de Guzman, Swansea doesn’t mind giving up a goal or two knowing they can find the back of the net with the best of ’em.

9. Seattle Seahawks – Playmakers for days – on both sides of the ball – and one of the coolest uniforms around. Whether it’s a bruising Marshawn Lynch run, some magic from Russell Wilson, or a game-changing play from Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and the ‘Hawks elite defence, there’s never a shortage of reasons to tune into a Seahawks game.

10. San Jose Sharks – While we’re all waiting for another four-goal game from Tomas Hertl, we’re more than happy to marvel at the Sharks’ established stars – and those wicked teal jerseys.

11. FC Barcelona – Loaded with all-world talent and boasting the most exciting player in the game, FC Barcelona should be a fixture on a list like this.

12. Golden State Warriors – The only team to get a spot on the list even though their season hasn’t started yet. Hey, a 115-89 rout of the Lakers, including 15 threes in an exhibition contest in Shanghai will do that. Also, we should just get used to seeing the Dubs here because Steph Curry and company take ‘watchability’ to a whole new level.

13. Kansas City Chiefs – Like defence? The Chiefs D has tallied the most sacks and forced more turnovers than any other in football. On the other side of the ball, Jamaal Charles is a 70-yard touchdown run waiting to happen.

14. Toronto Maple Leafs – Hey, check it out, the Leafs actually look solid to start the season! Add a good ol’ fashioned goaltending controversy (though you’ve got to think Bernier is the man going forward), and there’s no shortage of drama and storylines when it comes to the Buds.

15. Edmonton Oilers – They may not be winning and their goaltending situation has become more than a bit of a problem, but with all the young talent on this club, they’re always a minute from a highlight.

16. Philadelphia Eagles – As we get more used to it, the Chip Kelly lunatic offence will lose some of its charm, but the Eagles remain in the top five in offence (and that’s with Nick Foles getting serious reps!). Not to mention that LeSean McCoy is the most exciting back in football.

17. Western Mustangs – The games haven’t been close, which hurts on these rankings, because there’s a tendency to flip the channel amidst a blowout, but the Mustangs deserve credit for averaging a CIS-leading 57.2 points and 647.8 yards (that’s per game) through eight contests this season.

18. New York Jets – No, seriously. Always a good watch for those who prefer their football to be of the smash-mouth, defensive-oriented variety, but with Geno Smith, Rex Ryan’s crew actually has a playmaker worth tuning in for.

19. Paris Saint-Germain – The free-spending Ligue 1 club holds a spot on this list for one reason alone: because we all want to see what Zlatan Ibrahimovic will do next.

20. Buffalo Bills – That’s right, the biggest surprise of the NFL season: both the Jets and the Bills make an appearance on this list. Buffalo belongs here for their entertaining and surprising production at quarterback from both EJ Manuel and injury replacement Thad Lewis. But mainly, it’s because rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso (third in the NFL in tackles, first in interceptions) is fast-becoming the most watchable defensive player in football.

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