Every NFL Team's 2012 Season Represented in One Photo
NFL season's are often condensed into highlight packages, video recaps and written novels, but sometimes a single picture can say everything necessary to tell the story.
The 2012 season is far from over and yet already we can take one image of each team and use it as a way to represent them to this point.
Let's condense each NFL team's season into one photo, starting with the Cardinals...
Ryan Lindley is just the latest in a string of underwhelming QBs for the Arizona Cardinals.
The preseason debate was between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, both of whom have disappointed this season.
The Cardinals are a team looking for a direction and a leader. Lindley has looked overwhelmed in two games of action, and frustration is mounting in the desert.
The Atlanta Falcons have been riding high all season en route to a 10-1 record. One of the key reasons for that success has been QB Matt Ryan's relationship with top wideouts Julio Jones and Roddy White.
The pair has combined for over 1800 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. Ryan already has 3,425 yards passing and is a viable MVP candidate.
Ray Lewis is the fire of the Baltimore Ravens. This photo showcases the intensity and passion he brings to every game. With Lewis sidelined, the Ravens have managed to continue winning, (they are 9-2) but the defense is missing its spark.
If the rumors that Lewis can return in the regular season are true, then this is a non-issue. If he cannot return this season, it will be readily apparent what is missing in Baltimore.
The Buffalo Bills made a clear commitment to revamping the defense this season when they anointed Mario Williams with a contract worth over $100 million.
The early returns have been a mixed bag at best. Williams had three sacks in Week 12 against the Indianapolis Colts, but he also has just 33 tackles on the season, and the Bills rank No. 31 against the run.
He has looked lost at times this season and needs to play more consistent football in order to truly turn around the defense.
The proverbial Sophomore Slump has hit Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton hard. Last season's Rookie of the Year winner has struggled to the tune of a completion percentage under 60 and only 11 passing touchdowns.
Newton has been despondent at times and has been called out by team captain Steve Smith for sitting on the bench away from his teammates.
Newton is the present and future of the Panthers franchise and must be willing to conduct himself as such at all times.
The two have rekindled their old flame and connected for 1,017 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Chicago is in prime positioning for the playoffs at 8-3 and will be relying on Marshall to keep smiling if success is going to continue.
Much like Cutler/Marshall, Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have become a dynamic pair for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Dalton and Green entered the league together a season ago and have connected for 17 touchdowns since joining forces, seven of which have come this year.
The Bengals will be relying on this duo for the next decade.
The Cleveland Browns may be the best 3-8 team in the history of football, and that is not a joke. Cleveland plays tough in every game, and a Week 12 defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers showcased just how much resolve this team really has.
While having only three wins is disappointing, the impressive play of rookie RB Trent Richardson provides a glimpse into the future.
Richardson has 755 yards and six touchdowns this year and is proving to be everything the Browns hoped to get in the first round of April's draft.
Jerry Jones can sit back with a pair of sunglasses and a smile all he wants, but behind that facade he must be realizing that he is the wrong man to be GM of the organization.
There is nothing wrong with Jones being an owner who cares, but he is not the man to be making personnel decisions.
Dallas sits at 5-6, again battling to stay in the playoff hunt and performing well below expectations.
It is amazing just how different things really are in Denver since the arrival of Peyton Manning.
The entire Tim Tebow phenomenon has been completely forgotten, as fans fixate on the MVP candidate who has led the Broncos to an 8-3 record and first place in the AFC West division.
Manning always looks calm under pressure and is the game's best at reading coverages and blitz packages before the snap.
The Week 12 red flag that head coach Jim Schwartz threw cost the Detroit Lions a win and summed up the majority of the team's season.
Detroit has plenty of talent and skill, but silly mistakes have prevented it from staying in the playoff hunt, as was done in 2011.
A Thanksgiving-day blunder on national television simply revealed this fact to the entire country.
Green Bay Packers
This has not been a typical season for the Green Bay Packers. Players like Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson have been subjected to injuries throughout the year, and their misfortune has opened the door for other players to step up.
Chief among them has been Randall Cobb. The versatile playmaker can line up in the slot, in the backfield and return kicks.
Cobb has added a new dimension to the Packers offense and leads the team with 58 receptions.
How crazy is it to think that just five years ago the coaches at Central Michigan University tried to move J.J. Watt to the offensive side of the ball?
Watt chose to leave for Wisconsin and stick to defensive end.
The Texans star has 14.5 sacks and 54 tackles this season and has helped the team to a 10-1 record.
Andrew Luck will be the face of the Indianapolis Colts organization for the next decade, and while it is hard to move on from a player like Peyton Manning, Luck has made the transition as seamless as possible.
He is playing at a level worthy of the Rookie of the Year honor and has developed amazing chemistry with Reggie Wayne.
Wayne looked to be on the downslope of his career, but having Luck under center has rejuvenated him to the point of 1,105 receiving yards and three touchdowns so far this season.
A few weeks ago there was little to be excited about in Jacksonville.
The team was struggling, Maurice Jones-Drew was hurt and Blaine Gabbert was looking more and more like a draft bust.
However, the ray of light has not come from an MJD return (he remains injured), but from the emergence of Chad Henne at QB. Henne has resurrected the Jaguars and allowed rookie WR Justin Blackmon to show his potential.
Blackmon had over 200 yards receiving in Week 11 alone, and Henne has thrown for 615 yards and six touchdowns in the last two games.
Kansas City Chiefs
It is time for a change in Kansas City and the fans clearly know it. They have been unafraid to show their distaste for the current state of the team and the direction of head coach Romeo Crennel.
From wearing black clothes as a sign of mourning to the rare sight of empty seats at Arrowhead Stadium, Chiefs fans are fed up with their team's 1-10 record and constant futility.
The Miami Dolphins have been average this season, so it goes to show how boring the 2012 campaign has been when the team's most memorable moment was a sprinkler malfunction.
Having the sprinklers go off in the middle of the Dolphins Week 12 victory over the Seattle Seahawks was a rare sight, but so have most signs of excitement from the Dolphins team.
Ryan Tannehill and Reggie Bush have both regressed as the season wears on, and at 5-6, Miami's playoff hopes are grim at best.
In any other season Broncos QB Peyton Manning would be a shoo-in for Comeback Player of the Year, but not in 2012.
The way in which Adrian Peterson miraculously rehabbed ahead of schedule after tearing his MCL and ACL in one leg may be the biggest comeback in decades. The fact that he currently leads the league in rushing and is an MVP candidate is just icing on the cake.
Seeing AP make a strong lateral cut in this photo is a great sight for all football fans.
New England Patriots
What image could symbolize the current incarnation of the New England Patriots better than Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski?
Yes, Gronkowski is hurt, but these two have led the Patriots offensive charge for most of the season and are huge reasons for the team's success and high scoring output.
"Gronk" had 748 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns through 10 games of action and will be counted on once he returns for New England's playoff run.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints 2012 season will always be remembered for the Bountygate scandal and its ramifications.
If the Saints win the Super Bowl, it will undoubtedly help to cover up the whole issue, but for now it remains the first thing many think of when New Orleans is brought up in conversation.
This image of interim head coach Joe Vitt and linebacker Jonathan Vilma showcases two of the people most directly affected by Bountygate. It is a perfect representation of the current state of the Saints. A team moving on and competing for a playoff spot, but still dealing with the fallout of the scandal.
New York Giants
The New York Giants have taken fans on this ride before. They stumble through the regular season, occasionally looking impressive, but mostly looking average at best.
Then, sometime after Thanksgiving, a light turns on and the Giants morph into the perennial Super Bowl contenders we have all come to expect.
This year's transformation came in Week 12, as New York walloped the Green Bay Packers by a score of 38-10.
It appears the Giants are ready for a charge toward the Lombardi Trophy.
New York Jets
Let's face it, no matter how much we are all sick and tired of hearing about Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, the Jets QB situation has been the biggest topic of conversation for the team this season.
New York asked for as much when Tebow was signed, and that is exactly what has happened. Sanchez has struggled as the starter, compiling the lowest completion percentage among starting QBs, and Tebow has seen very few reps under center.
As the Jets fall further from grace with a record of 4-7, the topic of the Jets QBs remains a popular one.
The Oakland Raiders are a tough team to figure out. They can either be extremely competitive or downright horrible.
Most of the time this season it has been the latter, and running back Darren McFadden has done little to help.
It was thought that once healthy, he would dominate, but McFadden rushed for just 455 yards and two touchdowns in eight games before once again getting injured.
The Andy Reid/Michael Vick era is likely winding down in Philadelphia, and while they have shared moments of brilliance, it has largely failed.
One or both of these men will likely leave the Eagles organization at season's end for somewhere else. Philadelphia's 2012 campaign has been dominated by talks of QB controversy and how hot Reid's seat has become.
At just 3-8 the Eagles are a far cry from the "Dream Team" that was envisioned a year ago.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are hanging around the AFC playoff race at 6-5, but this photo says all you need to know about where they currently stand.
Having QB Ben Roethlisberger in a hoodie and an arm sling on the sidelines is not the way to compete for championships. Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch have both looked terrible in his absence, leading to losses to both the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.
Pittsburgh still has a chance to turn things around if and when Roethlisberger comes back, but without him they have no hope of success.
San Diego Chargers
Like most recent years, the San Diego Chargers 2012 season has seen the team fail to live up to the talent on the roster and perform in critical moments.
San Diego blew a 24-point lead on Monday Night Football to the Denver Broncos in Week 6. A loss that heated up the endless discussion about head coach Norv Turner's job security.
Turner's seat has been on fire often, but he remains on the sidelines, and Philip Rivers remains at QB in San Diego. How long this tandem continues to stay together is another question entirely.
San Francisco 49ers
Up until two weeks ago the San Francisco 49ers season could be described as a stifling defense and an exceedingly capable offense. A photo to showcase those traits may have been of Patrick Willis taking out some poor QB.
However, everything has suddenly taken a back seat to the emergence of QB Colin Kaepernick and the position battle that has ensued.
Alex Smith has played well all year, but after suffering a concussion in Week 10 he is suddenly backing up the rookie Kaepernick.
How this battle plays out over the course of the season will be intriguing to say the least and may decide San Francisco's playoff fate.
Seattle's 2012 season is one that has been mired in controversy. This photo illustrates the first such instance: the famous blown call on Monday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers in Week 3.
This should have been enough controversy for one season, but in Week 12 Seattle found out cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner had violated the league's performance enhancing drug policy.
Seattle's postseason aspirations received a boost from the MNF fiasco, but karma seems to have struck in the worst way now that the Seahawks top two corners have both been suspended (pending appeal.)
St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams were not expected to do much in 2012, and their 4-6-1 record somewhat reaffirms that notion.
However, if you look deeper, you will see a competitive team that has seen key contributions from young playmakers. The biggest of which have come from cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
This photo showcases his exuberance as he has now racked up three interceptions, two touchdowns, 12 pass deflections and 47 tackles.
St. Louis is a team heading in the right direction, and the outstretched arms of Jenkins are a big reason why.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 6-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are firmly in the mix for an NFC Wild Card spot, and rookie running back Doug Martin has been a catalyst for the team's success.
The "Muscle Hamster" or "Dougenator" has proven that drafting him to replace LeGarrette Blount was the right call, as he has rushed for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns already this season.
Martin has entered the tough Rookie of the Year race and become better with each passing week. Each of his three 100-plus yard outings have come in the last five weeks.
The Tennessee Titans have a forgettable 4-7 record and have not exactly wowed anyone with their on-field performance.
The AFC South division has two standouts in Houston and Indy, while the Titans have been held back due to QB injuries and defensive struggles.
One surprising bright spot has come in the form of RB Chris Johnson. "CJ2K" started the year slow, but has bounced back nicely, recording 942 yards and four touchdowns to this point. Seeing Johnson run away from defenders in this photo has to be a welcome sight for Titans fans.
The Washington Redskins would have been overjoyed if Robert Griffin III was the only rookie to emerge as a star in 2012, but running back Alfred Morris has stepped up as well.
The once-crowded Redskins backfield has been largely handed over to Morris, and he has responded with 982 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
RG3 has been even more impressive, throwing for 2,504 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions through 11 games. He has added 643 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.