Comparing Every NFL Team's 2011-2012 Season to a Movie Star
It's no big surprise that the best teams in the world of football have a lot in common with the biggest stars of Hollywood.
In addition to being expensive to see them in action, these stars have a way of providing plenty of drama (or laughs in the worst-case scenarios).
Here are all 32 teams and their Hollywood star comparisons.
Arizona Cardinals: Keanu Reeves
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It seems like it's the same story for the Arizona Cardinals the past few seasons. Despite having talent in pieces around the roster, they could never get it together at the quarterback position (even with Larry Fitzgerald catching passes). That was the case this year, as the Cards struggled under Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.
Likewise, it seems like it's been the same movie for Keanu Reeves for the past few years. Saving the world from (the environment/computers/the devil), Reeves' characters find themselves in the unfortunate predicament of being the only ones who can make things happen.
Atlanta Falcons: Ryan Gosling
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The Atlanta Falcons really hit their stride this year, comfortably making their way into the NFC playoffs and getting another solid set of performances on both sides of the ball (except for those darn short-yardage situations).
However, when it came time to rise to the next level, it wasn't meant to be. Meeting the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants, they were pummeled 24-2.
Likewise, actor Ryan Gosling had an excellent year, getting strong reviews for his performances in Crazy, Stupid, Love., The Ides of March and Drive. However, when it came time for awards season, he was inexplicably snubbed.
When it's not your year, it's not your year.
Baltimore Ravens: Liam Neeson
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When it comes to intimidation, it's not a bad idea to speak softly while carrying a big stick. In this sense, few actors personify well-crafted anger quite like Liam Neeson. While he stature doesn't imply his physical nature on film, he has developed a reputation for his on-screen violence, which has served him in films such as the newly released The Grey.
Likewise, the Baltimore Ravens didn't need to brag about their physical brand of play. They went out and did it. While they fell just short of the Super Bowl, this looks to be a team that can contend for years to come.
Buffalo Bills: Nicolas Cage
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Isn't it amazing that at one point during his career, Nicolas Cage was getting nominated for Golden Globes and Oscars? We're definitely a long way from the good old days of Moonstruck.
Similarly, isn't it amazing that halfway through the season the Buffalo Bills were considered legitimate playoff contenders. The Bills are definitely a long way from the good old days of Week 6.
Carolina Panthers: Daniel Radcliffe
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The big story for the Carolina Panthers this year has been the difference rookie quarterback Cam Newton has made on this team. A star throughout his collegiate playing days, it's exciting to see him do well on the biggest stage. I look forward to seeing what he has got up his sleeve for his second season in the league.
Likewise, it's likely we've not seen the last of Harry Potter lead Daniel Radcliffe. A star through the years of making the popular series of films, it's exciting to see him get positive reviews for his initial acting work outside of the fictional grounds of Hogwarts. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do next (apparently his performance in The Woman in Black received overall positive reviews).
Chicago Bears: Emelio Estevez
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Don't let the Chicago Bears' end of season collapse fool you. This team will be fine in 2012 (as long as Caleb Hanie is not the starting quarterback). However, they face a tremendous challenge of keeping up with their division foes, the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.
Likewise, it's easy to feel bad for Emelio Estevez. He may not be the most winning member of the Sheen family, but he has some real talent. Beyond being just a presenter of motivational speeches for youth hockey teams (a part of his career any child of the 90s will immediately recognize), Estevez has a major talent for film-making.
His new film, The Way, which he directed, wrote and starred, has come out to very positive reviews. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.
Cincinnati Bengals: Mickey Rourke
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After years of bad-boy behavior, including large amounts of drug and alcohol use, actor Mickey Rourke nearly burned all of his bridges to Hollywood. However, he was able to turn it around, and the film The Wrestler was a fresh chance at redeeming himself in the business. He hasn't taken that chance lightly, taking prominent roles in Iron Man 2 and The Expendables, while staying out of major trouble.
The Cincinnati Bengals too had found themselves on the outside looking in, but were able to improve with the drafting of quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green. That and a surprisingly improved defense were key as the Bengals managed to make the playoffs out of the treacherous AFC North division.
While they fell to the Houston Texans in the Wild Card Round, they have set the foundation for future success. They're back, and they should continue to be for a while.
Cleveland Browns: Mike Myers
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More Austin Powers sequels. Endless Shrek sequels. The Love Guru. What Mike Myers is selling right now, I don't think I want to watch.
Losings streaks. Dejected fans. A quarterback rotation featuring Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace. What the Cleveland Browns were putting on the field, I don't want to watch.
Dallas Cowboys: Taylor Lautner
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All might be looking good for actor Taylor Lautner at the moment. He's a big box-office draw for his part in the Twilight series, and he's a favorite for many fans of the series.
However, the attention Mr. Lautner has received is a contrast to the fact that his work was still in desperate need of positive reviews. His work outside of the series has still been abysmal, as seen by last year's Abduction, which was met with little critical support.
Likewise, the Cowboys may have the constant spotlight on their team, but this is a team with a lot of places to improve. Making improvements to Rob Ryan's defense will likely be a major priority, as the unit was well within the bottom half of the league defending the pass.
Denver Broncos: Will Ferrell
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Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow and comedian Will Ferrell are very similar, in that they have a knack for drawing a wide range of opinions.
Tebow, who was a big part in the team's turnaround this year, is treated only on the far ends of the spectrum, with one end being Tebow as football's shining light, while the other side is convinced of his imminent failure.
Ferrell, on the other hand, has opinion sharply divided on whether he is one of the funniest men in Hollywood (see Anchorman or Stranger Than Fiction), or if he has become the punchline himself (see Land of the Lost).
The odds of finding two people with the same opinion on either of these two would be in the same range as finding two identical snowflakes.
Detroit Lions: Christian Bale
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There's no denying Christian Bale, star of the new Batman series, has a lot of talent. However, he also has a bit of a temper problem, which came to a head when a rant he made while on the set of Terminator: Salvation wound up on the Internet.
Despite the outburst, there's no sign it should slow his rise to the top. The final installment of the Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, comes out in July.
Likewise, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz has led the team to new heights. At the same time, he's shown that he can have a bit of a hot head, like when he chased down San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh after a uncomfortable back slap.
While the post game moment may have been uncomfortable, Schwartz and the Lions were able to move on as if it never. They made the playoffs with a 10-6 record, and will be on many people's lists as contenders in 2012.
Green Bay Packers: Leonardo DiCaprio
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The Green Bay Packers were sensational this year, compiling a 15-1 regular-season record. However, that success didn't make them impervious to a misstep or two. That was the case as they lost in the divisional round to the New York Giants, who took advantage of multiple untimely drops from Packers receivers to take the win and end the Packers season.
Likewise, Leonardo DiCaprio has about as solid of a resume as one can imagine. From major blockbusters to independent films, he's done it all and for the most part come out winning. However, that success doesn't make him impervious to the occasional flop.
That was the case for the film J.Edgar, the story of the infamous FBI director. While he may have put together a fine performance, the film was a letdown critically and at the box office.
The lesson: Even the very best can have the occasional slip-up.
Houston Texans: Ben Affleck
The Houston Texans aren't the new kids on the block anymore, and believe or not are actually a pretty good team. Fighting through the loss of several starting quarterbacks to injury (they went into the playoffs with third-string rookie T.J. Yates), the team still managed to stay competitive.
Likewise, it was previously easy to write off Ben Affleck as a lesser talented actor buoyed by the success of the film Good Will Hunting, and somehow still famous after bombs like Reindeer Games and the unforgivable Gigli.
However, Affleck in recent years has been able to turn things around, showing a major talent for both acting and writing. Screenwriting and directing both the critical favorites Gone Baby Gone and The Town (which he also starred in), it's clear to see Ben Affleck is a major talent who we'll see for years to come.
Indianapolis Colts: David Spade
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Without quarterback Peyton Manning, the Indianapolis Colts found themselves looking out of sorts. The final results were not pretty, as they earned the no. 1 seed in the upcoming draft with an ugly 2-14 record. Without their star to cover for them, the team was exposed for being lousy.
Likewise, I don't find David Spade to be very funny (even if I really enjoyed Joe Dirt). It may be an unfair critique, but he just isn't very funny in movies where he doesn't partner with the late Chris Farley. Without his comedy partner to play off his straight man role, he has been exposed as being an unfunny actor.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Gary Busey
A complete mess. A major lack of direction. You wonder if there's any thinking going on at all.
Wait...who am I writing about?
Kansas City Chiefs: Jack Black
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Things may have gotten a little crazy for the Kansas City Chiefs, as they fought through an injury ravaged season and eventually fired their head coach Todd Haley. However, with Romeo Crennel, the Chiefs look to be on the right track (even beating the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers).
Likewise, Jack Black looked to be a sure bet to make flops, as he starred in Year One and Gulliver's Travels, which both flopped tremendously. However, he has slowly recovered, appearing in Kung Fu Panda 2 and having a (several) scene-stealing role as himself in The Muppets.
He looks to be back on the right track, and bringing quality laughs with his larger than life personality.
Miami Dolphins: Bruce Willis
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The Miami Dolphins were the kings of redemption this year, coming back from an 0-7 start to get back to a respectable 6-10. With the right guy under center, they may even be playoff contenders.
Likewise, Bruce Willis has shaken off a fair share of critical and box office catastrophes, including Hudson Hawk, Perfect Stranger, The Whole Ten Yards, Breakfast Of Champions, North and The Story Of Us. However, Willis shows no signs of stopping, and has several movies in production for release in 2012.
Minnesota Vikings: Adam Sandler
The 2011 Minnesota Vikings were to football as Adam Sandler's Jack and Jill was to moviegoers everywhere: painful to watch, directionless and uninspiring.
Believe it or not, the Vikings may be worse off than that film comparison would have you to believe. By losing running back (and best offensive weapon) Adrian Peterson to an ACL and MCL injury in the last game of the season (his return date is uncertain, but currently estimated for before the start of next season), they run the serious risk of offering the team's fans a very unwanted sequel.
New England Patriots: Denzel Washington
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When you watch a movie with Denzel Washington, you know you're going to get a good performance. Even when the film isn't perfect, you still walk out of the theater pretty sure that he's an amazing actor.
Likewise, it's tough to watch the New England Patriots and not say they have a good chance of winning every time they hit the field. Bill Belichick has developed such a quality system in New England that at times it seems like he could grab schlubs from the stands 10 minutes before kickoff and still find a way to keep things interesting.
They may not have had the result they wanted in Indianapolis, losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, but it's clear the Patriots are a good team and will continue to be one.
New Orleans Saints: Morgan Freeman
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It seems New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees can do no wrong. No matter where he throws the ball on the field, it's not too much of a stretch to have confidence it's getting to the right guy. Brees was at his best all year, shattering several long-standing passing records, including the passing yardage mark held by Dan Marino.
The Saints rode Brees to a 13-3 regular-season record, before falling at the last minute in the divisional round.
Likewise, actor Morgan Freeman has a knack for making even the most mundane lines sound like pieces of divine genius (only fitting for the man who has played God on multiple occasions). If there was a record for sounding awesome (and a quantifiable way of measuring such things), Freeman would shatter his own record again and again and again.
He's been ridden by Hollywood for several critical and box office hits in the past few years, including the Batman series of movies, Invictus and Gone Baby Gone.
New York Giants: Robert Downey Jr.
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The New York Giants rose from nowhere to end the season as the NFL's best, beating the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday. At 7-7 earlier in the season, it was tough to imagine them as major contenders. However, after their six-game winning streak to take it all, it's tough to imagine the Giants not being major contenders in 2012.
Likewise, Robert Downey Jr. rose from a series of bad-boy behavior, realizing his talent and becoming one of Hollywood's most surefire stars. Starring in the blockbuster Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes movies, it's tough to imagine Downey not making hits.
He will play a major part in the upcoming film The Avengers, which releases in May.
New York Jets: Shia Labeouf
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The New York Jets have a tremendous amount of talent, but unfortunately have some major chemistry problems that will make their task much harder than it needs to be.
With complaints about the effort of quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver/captain Santonio Holmes, it seems like the question of whether or not the Jets will win will be decided more by the personalities of the squad rather than their talent.
Likewise, actor Shia Labeouf has made the jump from child star to adult movie star, appearing in several major blockbuster successes like the Transformers movies. However, that success has also come with several questions about his behavior, which include several fights and arrests.
While these problems are likely the result of his difficult upbringing, it's clear his ability to keep his wild side in line may have more to do with his success than his talent.
Oakland Raiders: Charlie Sheen
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The Oakland Raiders made a bold attempt to save their season after the loss of quarterback Jason Campbell, trading away multiple draft picks to the Cincinnati Bengals in order to secure the services of quarterback Carson Palmer. While they came close, the Raiders were unable to make the playoffs, even in a weaker AFC West.
Not only did they miss out on winning now, but they hurt their chances of winning later. In getting Palmer (along with a few other moves), the Raiders won't get their first pick until the middle rounds of the upcoming draft. The team may be worse off in the long run for their decision.
Likewise, actor Charlie Sheen may have boosted his notoriety after a summer of winning, which included wild partying, a collection of porn star goddesses and a comedy tour that received mixed reviews.
However, by giving up his spot on Two and a Half Men, the most popular show on television, he may end up being much worse off in the long run (to be fair, he'll still be cashing in big for his time on the show, due to its popularity in syndication).
Philadelphia Eagles: Will Smith
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No matter what Will Smith does on screen, it's going to be a big deal at the box office, for all parties involved. With this ability to get fans' attention with his one of a kind persona, there are extra expectations both critically and financially from both studios and audiences.
While this ability can lead to monster hits for movies like Independence Day or I Am Legend, it can also bite him in the rear end for flops like The Legend of Bagger Vance and Seven Pounds.
Likewise, the stacked roster for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 created certain expectations, which were only multiplied when the backup quarterback announced that they were the "Dream Team."
Unfortunately for Eagles fans, the Dream Team quickly evolved into a nightmare, as a mix of inconsistency and injuries derailed the team's efforts.
The Eagles would miss the playoffs at 8-8, despite the best efforts of quarterback Michael Vick to right the ship near the end (they were still playoff eligible more than three-fourths of the way through the year).
Pittsburgh Steelers: Harrison Ford
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The Pittsburgh Steelers may have a nice amount of talent and a high level of determination, but they appeared to be out of steam when they lost to the Denver Broncos in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs to their year.
Injuries to several players, most notably quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, limited the Steelers' effectiveness, and a poor defensive game plan made life easier for the Broncos' quarterback Tim Tebow.
Harrison Ford is one of Hollywood's most iconic actors, and the face of some of the biggest franchises in movie history. However, it's tough to deny that he has appeared out of steam in more recent films like Indiana Jones and the Legend of the Crystal Skull and Cowboys vs. Aliens.
He's not the same actor he used to be, and the more he does action roles like he had in those movies, the easier it will be for them to be panned by critics.
San Diego Chargers: Matthew McConaughey
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Despite having great talent, the San Diego Chargers continue to underacheive. 2011 was no different. Even in a weakened AFC West (just sayin' Denver Broncos fans), the Chargers managed to foul up a clear playoff opportunity.
This team has the ability to do great things, yet year after year it's the same story.
As for actor Matthew McConaughey, his selection of movies continues to disappoint. It seems that every role is determined by how often he can take off his shirt (a decision process perfectly visualized by Matt Damon).
He has an ability to do great movies (like We Are Marshall), yet year after year it's the same crappy movies (like Failure to Launch).
San Francisco 49ers: Jonah Hill
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Jonah Hill is not just the guy from Superbad. He's now the Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated guy from Superbad (for his performance in Moneyball).
The San Francisco 49ers are not just the team the stunk it up the last eight seasons. They're now the 13-3, NFC second seed, NFC Championship game-appearing San Francisco 49ers.
Seattle Seahawks: Samuel L. Jackson
Good movie or bad movie, you know you're getting the full effort of actor Samuel L. Jackson. Whether he's clearing a plane of snakes or trying to help his team avoid a super-smart shark, there's no shortage of excitement.
Likewise, the Seattle Seahawks had their fans on pins and needles as they went through their 2011 season. While their record was a little lower than they probably would've like, 7-9, their games were often pretty close: Seven games were decided by one score or less.
With some better quarterback play, the Seahawks could be a surprise team in 2012.
St. Louis Rams: Mel Gibson
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The St. Louis Rams were a complete mess in 2011, after being high on a lot of people's preseason lists. Hurt badly by injuries, the Rams never really got into good form, and struggled on all sides of the ball.
They've even run afoul of city and stadium officials, after announcing they would give up one home games in each of the next few years in order to play in London (which was later revealed to be a potential violation of the lease agreement the team signed).
Likewise, Mel Gibson has made a mess of a previously successful film career. In addition to some very offensive statements about pretty much all ethnicities, along with some very threatening voicemail messages left with his ex-girlfriend, his public persona has gone down the tubes.
Even worse, his most recent films (Edge of Darkness and The Beaver) have come out to some mixed reviews.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Michael Cera
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of the youngest teams in the league, have a way of playing to a maturity level fitting their experience level. Making plenty of silly mistakes and showing a lot of inconsistency, the 2011 campaign left fans hoping for some growth.
They'll have to do it with new head coach Greg Schiano, who replaces the recently fired Raheem Morris.
Speaking of repeats, actor Michael Cera has found himself typecast as a somewhat socially awkward geek, which he has played in Arrested Development, Superbad, Juno, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Year One.
After all of these roles, one can only wonder if he'll have any room for growth. I hope he can get more roles like Youth in Revolt, which allowed him to play off his nerdy persona.
Tennessee Titans: Channing Tatum
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While he is by all accounts a nice guy, it's tough to get excited about Channing Tatum and the movies he's in. He's kind of a good dancer. He's kind of funny. He kind of fits in action movie cliches (although G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was atrocious). I'm just not sure that he's destined for the next level. He's good...not great.
Likewise, the Tennessee Titans appear to be a good team, but definitely not great. Despite making changes through their roster (and seeing running back Chris Johnson vanish), the Titans were able to hang with the Houston Texans in the AFC South for most of the year. They fell short, and this coming season they'll have a lot of questions, including who will start at quarterback.
I'm not sure they'll be ready just yet to challenge for the next level in 2012.
Washington Redskins: Eddie Murphy
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After a long history of underperforming and being overpaid, Eddie Murphy seemed to show some signs of life as he starred in the solid action comedy Tower Heist. It may not have been his best role, but it was refreshing to see him do some passable (in a live-action role).
Likewise, the Washington Redskins have a decent sized history of overpaying for players who go on to underperform, but found a little more success than would have been expected. While they had major questions at quarterback (as in, they need a new one immediately), the Redskins put together a decent defense that helped them stay in games.
With a little bit of offensive help, the Redskins could be primed for a strong 2012 season.