NFL: 1 Thing Every Team Needs to Do Before the End of the World
We all know the stories. According to the ancient Mayan calendars, the world as we know it will be ending in approximately eight days. December 21st, 2012, is the date designated for total earthly destruction.
In a time of such mass hysteria and tragedy, left unanswered will be such pressing questions as "Can Colin Kaepernick lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl,'' and "Will Brett Favre un-retire again?'' We won't be able to ask Sean Payton if he thought the spoils of the bounty system were worth a year-long suspension.
We also only have a few days to ponder whether this apocalypse is any different than any given season as a Raider fan.
Because this coming week's slate of NFL games may be our last on Earth, people everywhere (I assume, no factual basis here) are making sure they complete the last item on their bucket lists.
I'm going to extend that same courtesy to the NFL organizations here, with fake power that I can only imagine is more logical than that wielded by Roger Goodell.
We don't know if there will be a magnetic reversal, causing the planet to engulf itself in a massive sinkhole, or if aliens will attack, or if a string of natural disasters will do us in. Whatever the end result may be, we will all be watching football this weekend (don't we always?), and these 32 NFL teams will be glad they heeded my advice as their last act on Earth.
Here's one thing each professional football team must do before the world ends.
Arizona Cardinals: Score a Point
It may seem like a simple enough wish (or a completely unnecessary nut shot to Cardinal fans, sorry!), but if the Cardinals can't muster a point this weekend, they will become the first and only franchise in sports history to be shut out in two straight games preceding a mass extinction of the planet they play on.
Now that is a fact. They play at home against the Detroit Lions this Sunday. But at this point,the Cardinals might lose 58-0 to my high school's powder puff team. If—and this is a big if—there is not an apocalypse on 12/21/12, the Cards face top defenses in Chicago and San Francisco to finish the season.
I guess you could say that, regardless, the Cardinals' world will be coming to an end very shortly.
Atlanta Falcons: Declare Week 15 a Playoff Game
I'm not sure how Matt Ryan and Co. are going to go about this. I'm sure Roger Goodell has some kind of insane process by which, at any given moment, a regular season game could become a postseason one. But they really need to win a playoff game.
Ryan has been the starting QB in Atlanta for five full seasons and has yet to register a single playoff victory. What better time than Sunday, when the defending champion New York Giants come to town? These are the very same Giants who ruined the Falcons' playoff aspirations a season ago.
Atlanta needs to win this "playoff game" for its QB, who has led it to the playoffs three (soon to be four) times, and has a big goose egg to show for it.
That's a bad resume to enter the afterlife with.
Baltimore Ravens: Get Ray Lewis on the Field
I don't care if he isn't ready to go, Mr. Harbaugh. I want one last glimpse of arguably the greatest linebacker in NFL history knocking someone's head off. Especially if he wears this terrifying helmet and face-mask combo while doing it.
Lewis has been out for a while with a torn triceps muscle and is eligible to come back this week against Denver. No disrespect to Peyton Manning, but if he's going to die a few days later like the rest of us, anyway, I want to see Lewis snap him in half.
Now that I think about it, if Lewis can come back from a torn triceps muscle this fast, he may just survive the apocalypse.
Buffalo Bills: Divvy Up Ryan Fitzpatrick's Salary
Hey, the Bills aren't going to make the playoffs. Fitzpatrick makes way too much cash, and there are a lot of pretty awesome things everyone could do before dying with an extra half million dollars.
I'm not here to judge how people spend their money, especially with doomsday rapidly approaching. If I'm Fitzpatrick's teammates, I'm jumping him for that paycheck and taking a joy ride in a McLaren F1. Or skydiving naked into a vat of chocolate. Not that I've ever wanted to do that or anything.
So what will Fitzpatrick do then? With no money, he would be forced to stay in Buffalo, which is probably worse than being sucked into the Earth's core, anyway.
Carolina Panthers: Hang on to a 4th-Quarter Lead
Forget "all I want for Christmas," Panthers fans. How about "all I want before getting my eyes gouged out by an alien monster in eight days" is for my team to enter the fourth quarter with a lead and hold on to win the damn game.
Is it really too much to ask? You have to think the players are frustrated at their inability to close, and with the 0-7 record in games decided by seven points or less. That's ugly. What better way to ride momentum from their big win against the Falcons last week than to pummel the Chargers in San Diego?
Maybe they will even lead from the opening snap to the final whistle! What's that? They lost to the Chiefs two weeks ago?
Chicago Bears: Just Beat the Packers
For a Bears fan, there is no more plain and simple final wish before a fiery death. One of the greatest, longest-running rivalries in sports comes to a head in Chicago this weekend when the Packers roll into town.
If the Bears want to do themselves and the dedicated fanbase a big favor, they will be the ones lining up in victory formation when all is said and done. Do you really think any Bears fan would complain if their last memory is of Aaron Rodgers hanging his head in defeat?
A close second might be to have a game in which Jay Cutler doesn't throw an interception. That alone sounds like an apocalyptic sign to me.
Cincinnati Bengals: Secure the .500 Season
With a win in Philadelphia Thursday night, the Bengals can win their last game on Earth and clinch a .500 season. I know they made the playoffs and won nine games in 2011, but this franchise still has a lot of making up to do for so much major suckage in recent years.
If this was about half a decade ago, I would have quipped that just keeping their players out of prison for a week would be a major victory in Cincinnati. But they are a much more well-behaved and better team than those days, and need to go out on the same note.
Look, beating the Eagles isn't going to earn you any points at the pearly gates, but it's definitely better than a loss.
Cleveland Browns: Prove Brandon Weeden Is Better Than RGIII
Psyche! That will never happen. Good thing Weeden is like a 49-year-old rookie, so he's at least explored the world, I presume. But in all honesty, given how bad the Browns really are, if they were able to rattle off four straight wins, pull to within a game of .500 and beat RGIII's Redskins? That's a solid note to go out on.
As a Browns fan, I know it's weird to hope and pray that RGIII takes the field on Sunday. But you'll get way more street cred in heaven if the Browns beat the 'Skins with him at quarterback. At this point, after so many years of suffering, do you really have anything else to lose?
But let's be real here. Haven't most games for Browns fans ended up feeling like the end of the world, anyway?
Dallas Cowboys: Lower the Boom on That Stupid TV
If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to Google pictures of the gigantic hanging screen above the field in the Cowboys' stadium. It's ridiculous. And Jerry Jones even hesitated to have it raised for games after punters were hitting the bottom of it in practice with their kicks.
Okay, I admit it. I really just hate the Cowboys (what do you want from me, I'm a 49ers fan!). And the screen is pretty cool. But if you've ever taken your stress out on a wine glass or a china shop or your ex-wife's living room windows, then you know where this would lead.
A glorious, glittering shower of stupid Cowboys glass, smashing a hole through the turf? You have to admit, it sounds kind of awesome!
Denver Broncos: Send Peyton Manning out in Style
This has been a comeback year of epic proportions for the future Hall of Fame quarterback. Well, at least he would have been a Hall of Fame quarterback if not for those darned Mayans and their future-telling calendar. And, unfortunately, even the best have to call it quits sometime.
Sure, Manning wouldn't be doing it by any choice of his own. None of us would be. But there is no way his tender neck will survive the massive black hole that develops within our atmosphere on December 21. So with that in mind, the Broncos need to whup the Ravens and all but guarantee themselves a woulda-coulda-shoulda 13-3 season (Cleveland and Kansas City at home to finish the year).
At least we won't have to see the on-screen duo of Manning and Papa John anymore. Thank goodness.
Detroit Lions: All-out Handshake-Gate Melee
The Lions are losing big again, sitting at 4-9 with the Packers and Falcons yet to play in the final two weeks. This is nothing new for fans of the team. But after a promising season in 2011, they had to hoping for something better.
One of last year's most talked-about incidents was the Jim Schwartz versus Jim Harbaugh handshake. And we all know that tempers are flying high in Detroit (losing season, bad economy, Ndamukong Suh's general outlook on life), so we might as well have Schwartz have a go with Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt this weekend.
We all know that Harbaugh would have critically wounded Schwartz if they fought last year. But this one might be more evenly matched.
Wait, a game and a fight the Lions can win? Hallelujah!
Green Bay Packers: Make Brandon Marshall Hate You
In case you missed it on Wednesday, Chicago wide receiver Brandon Marshall blasted the Packers, saying he has never disliked a team more. As if the rivalry needed any more fuel, this should get the locker room ready for battle.
There is one small problem with this final wish. I'm not sure if Marshall is actually, physically stoppable. The Packers can try, and they certainly should. But I'd argue that Marshall is more athletic than anyone who will be out there on defense.
So, on second thought, maybe they can just swear off "Discount Double Check" for the last week of our existence?
Nobody likes those commercials, anyway, Aaron.
Houston Texans: Prove Everybody Wrong...Again
I think I just heard all of Houston groan collectively. After years of mediocrity and a heartbreaking loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC playoffs last year, the Texans finally looked like legitimate Super Bowl favorites.
Until they ran into the New England Patriots. Last week, they were picked apart with ease by Tom Brady and have some analysts seriously questioning their ability to make a deep run in the playoffs. So, as per the usual, the Texans need to dust themselves off and destroy Indianapolis at home this weekend.
One thing is for sure; if the Earth gets sucked into the sun and turns into a giant fireball, at least those juvenile letterman jackets will burn right up.
Indianapolis Colts: Get Andrew Luck Double-Digit Wins
Well, the Colts have already pretty much exceeded expectations. They can all die happy knowing their franchise, No. 1 overall pick, weight-of-the-soon-collapsing-world-on-his-shoulders quarterback was the right selection in this year's draft.
And you have to give Luck and his team some major props for putting themselves in a great position to take a wild-card spot and possibly play Cinderella in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Colts and their fans, there will be no playoffs. There won't even be a Saturday morning hangover on December 22.
The least they can do for Luck is get him a 10-win season as a rookie. That would be an accomplishment that would surely be remembered forever and ever. Wait...
Jacksonville Jaguars: Establish Dominance in Florida
I mean, that's really all they have going for them in Week 15. The Jags play the Dolphins in a game that means absolutely nothing to anyone outside of Florida. Scratch that. It means absolutely nothing to anyone.
So at the very least, Chad Henne can attempt to lead this withered team and disheartened fanbase to their third win, one that would establish a pecking order in Florida. At least for the moment. Until everyone remembers that Tampa Bay is also in Florida and that the Bucs dominate both of the other teams in that state.
Oops. Sorry, Jaguars fans. At least you never had to suffer through your team's inevitable exodus to a larger market.
Kansas City Chiefs: Avenge the Most Embarrassing Loss Ever
There's really nothing more to it. If you think the Dolphins-Jaguars game will suck, check out who the Chiefs are playing on Sunday. That's right, fans in Oakland are going to have to sit through what is sure to be one of the most poorly played football games of all time.
But Raiders fans will have a probable victory to look forward to in this one. And that's where the Chiefs' dying wish comes in. They lost 26-16 earlier in the year to the Raiders at home, something you never want to have to tell your grandchildren about.
If the Chiefs are to salvage any happiness before we plummet through the galaxy to our dizzy deaths, they need to master a metaphorical black hole and beat the Raiders.
Miami Dolphins: Make Some Awesome Sweatshirts
Yeah! That will show you, Frank Gore! After being beaten in San Francisco this past weekend, the Dolphins were further embarrassed when Gore donned a sweatshirt for the post-game presser that had a football helmet-wearing dolphin lying dead, upside down.
To most, it was hilarious. To them, it was probably a slap right in the blowhole. Miami won't be making the playoffs this season (wait—nobody will), and definitely won't get another shot at Gore and the Niners. So what's the next best option?
Design a hoodie with the logo flipped the right way and make sure everyone wears one on the team bus. At least they will be warm and cozy when the world freezes into icy darkness.
Minnesota Vikings: Hand the Ball to AD All Day
Fantasy stats be damned, we want to see Adrian Peterson toting the rock on every play in his final game on Earth. We are hoping that the Rams' defense will see fit to go a little easier on such a joyous occasion, thought it might not matter. AD is that good.
I know him rushing for more than 500 yards in one game sounds ridiculous. But if anyone can do it, Peterson's the guy.
What we want to see, realistically, is one last record fall. Eric Dickerson has the single-season rushing record at 2,105. Will the Vikes get smart and cut their losses, letting AD take direct snaps all game?
Peterson himself said he has his sights set on breaking the record this season, anyway. With death looming, he'll be extra motivated.
New England Patriots: Prove They Are the Best
Ugh. This would be like the Yankees winning the World Series the day before the apocalypse. Nobody wants to admit it, but the Patriots are the best team in the NFL again. They dismantled Houston, and if they crush the 49ers, they are without a doubt the superior team in the league.
With one prime-time game left in the careers and lives of Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck, they need to take down my 49ers and prove that they truly have no competition in this league. We know they are elite, but are they the best of the best?
Sunday night's game will tell the tale. Say, do you think Brady has any dance moves up his sleeve before the end of the world hits? I sure hope not.
New Orleans Saints: Make Amends for Bountygate
I don't care what the appeals say, the evidence against the Saints was pretty damning. And I'm also hurt because one of the alleged targets was my boy, Alex Smith. Nonetheless, the Saints can make good with the rest of the league by letting their players get hit cheaply.
No, no. I'm not suggesting those players stand there and take full-on, running-start hits from Ronde Barber, or being used as a chair by Gerald McCoy. I just mean stand in a line and let every player on Tampa Bay, on behalf of the rest of the NFL, run down the line high-fiving all the Saints' faces.
Hey, life isn't fair. But you mess up, you pay the price, and in this scenario, you die. At least their karma will be restored just in time.
New York Giants: Force a Fumble, Let It Go
There is nobody in Niner Nation who still doesn't vividly remember the punts Kyle Williams dropped in the NFC Championship Game to allow the Giants to sneak into the Super Bowl, which they eventually won. So in an unprecedented act of kindness, this would truly be the stuff of legends.
If the Giants force a fumble in Atlanta, I want them to stand there and watch as the Falcons recover, unopposed. Why? To prove to the world that they can force a fumble on their own and not from divine intervention. And to just generally acknowledge how lucky they got 11 short months ago.
This isn't too much to ask. The Giants are already guaranteed to be the last ever Super Bowl champion. Hopefully, all surviving alien races remember them as such and revel in their courageous fumble act.
New York Jets: Run a Successful Play Using Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez
They said it couldn't be done. But when people have their backs against the wall, they have been known to do some pretty superhuman things. Running a play for positive yardage that includes both quarterbacks of the Jets would definitely qualify.
You've seen the laser-off-the-helmet play and the same-team-clothesline-fumble play (I've watched each at least 50 times—I still laugh), which will never be forgotten, regardless how big a ball of ash this planet becomes on 12/21/12.
I swear, Jets fans will be booing these two guys even as Planet X hurtles through the Earth's atmosphere and the over-sized comet ruins every tabloid writer's fun.
Oakland Raiders: Make One More Coaching Change
Heck, why not? Even after Tom Cable brought them to the brink of respectability with an 8-8 season, he was let go in favor of another bad hire who would send them straight back from where they came. Really, this isn't even meant as an insult.
Instead, Raiders fans should see it as a chance to do a "what the hell" last-ditch kind of thing. "YOLO," as the kids say these days. While we're at it, let's fire Dennis Allen, hire Cable back, fire him again, hire Bobby Petrino, fire him, and re-up Allen one more time.
That way, the actual team remains the same. But before we all perish, the Raiders do what they do best: make the rest of the league laugh.
Philadelphia Eagles: Give LeSean McCoy the Damn Ball
Yours truly has suffered long enough; give McCoy the pigskin. My first-round pick has been nothing short of average this season as far as fantasy points are concerned. I blame that on Michael Vick, Andy Reid, all the cheerleaders and their stupid mascot.
Even though I'm well out of the playoff picture, I'd like to salvage what fantasy football pride I have left in me and get a 40-point day out of McCoy. The game plan could be similar to Minnesota's with Adrian Peterson: direct snaps all night long.
And it may still be too soon to ask, but everyone loves puppies and the question must be posed. Where does the afterlife sorting place Vick when Earth shatters? My money's on Slytherin, if you know what I mean.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ride a Motorcycle
Again, blurring the line between "acceptable" and "too soon." I'm just a dangerous fella—not as much so as Ben Roethlisberger, who famously crashed his motorcycle and injured himself a few years ago. This needs to be the team ride after the game against Dallas on Sunday.
Unless, of course, Roethlisberger has developed a fear of two-wheeled death traps after his first faux pas. I know I would. Win or lose, the Steelers would look pretty sweet rolling out onto the Texas highway in their throwback bumblebee uniforms.
I'm kidding, of course. They would look awful. But is there really room for fashion judgement this close to the apocalypse?
San Diego Chargers: Replace the Bolt with Philip Rivers' Face
Not his game face. Not his just-woke-up face. Not even his sacked by multiple large, sweaty men face. I'm talking about the greatest candid sideline snapshot of all time. Go ahead and enjoy the excellence by clicking this link here.
I know. It's the greatest thing you have ever seen, and likely will ever see with the end so near. Can you imagine the Chargers just peeling off the classic bolt logo on the sides of their helmets and playing with this baby plastered on their domes?
Unfortunately, that logo would automatically qualify as San Diego's best on-field demonstration in 2012.
San Francisco 49ers: Let Both QBs Play
This isn't just a final wish to satisfy this Team Smith fan-boy author. It's because the 49ers might actually beat the Patriots if they utilize both quarterbacks in the right fashion. And much like the Pats, the Niners have a chance to prove themselves as the best team in the NFL with a win.
Give Colin Kaepernick the start, let him run a few drives in his scrambling, strong-armed style. Once you get the Patriots' feet moving, give the ball to Alex Smith, who will kill the defense with kindness. Winner of this game is the ultimate universal football champion, because it will be the last game ever played (unless you think Jets versus Titans on Monday is actually a "game").
I'm going to go ahead and pretend that last year's should-have-been Super Bowl matchup is this year's actual Super Bowl matchup. And since an obvious sign of the apocalypse would be an Alex Smith Super Bowl ring, my theory is totally justified.
Seattle Seahawks: Complete a Legit Hail Mary
In case you had forgotten, those pesky Seahawks were gifted a victory earlier this year when a phantom touchdown on a last-second Hail Mary won them a game over Green Bay. Sorry, I shouldn't call it a phantom touchdown. It was allegedly caught by Golden Tate's left pinky finger, which maintained possession to the ground.
What I'd like to see in their game against Buffalo is this. On the Seahawks' first play from scrimmage, they run the same play as the one you can view above. I want Tate to jump, catch and come down cleanly with the ball in the end zone. Prove to me you can catch a Hail Mary, Golden.
Just for the record, replacement refs will be the first ones to go when the world ends. But they will be stuck in limbo between heaven and hell as an evil, but necessary payback.
St. Louis Rams: Come Up a Yard Shy of the Game-Winning TD
I really don't mean to bring back any horrible memories, Tennessee fans. But isn't it only fair to end the world with the most time-stopping, heart-wrenching play in recent Super Bowl history? Fans of the Titans who are old enough to remember, shield your eyes.
Since winning that Super Bowl, the Rams have hardly been a factor in the NFL. My friends from St. Louis know of the Cardinals, Blues and the location of the Arch. With the Rams hardly registering a pulse as it is, why not give back what you stole from the Titans?
People say you're rewarded for a good deed. I imagine the prize for such a kind gesture would be surviving the end of the world. Have fun by yourselves, Rams.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Change the Mascot to a Hamster
Note to Doug Martin: I don't care if you hate your own nickname. Muscle Hamster is the most intimidating nickname out there, and you have no right to defy your label. This is something I'm sure Martin's teammates in Tampa Bay realize, too.
So, for the last hurrah, I'd like to see the Buccaneers become the Tampa Bay Muscle Hamsters and release a giant one onto the field before the game (not Martin himself, a real, live, mutant hamster) to wreak havoc on the Saints.
After all, rodents are probably more likely to survive a nuclear wasteland, right?
Tennessee Titans: Don't Lose
I mean it. This isn't even funny. The fact that a diehard Washington State Cougar like myself is entrusting the final game in NFL history to Jake Locker, a Washington Husky, is the most ironic evil of all time. But more importantly for the Titans—do you really want to lose to the Jets?
As detailed in the Jets' slide, they have two dysfunctional, punching bag quarterbacks. Run a blitz, sack them, force a fumble, return for touchdown, repeat. I've just given the Titans the winning formula. Tennessee is already having a rough year. It can't afford to make it worse with a laughable loss.
The worst part about the Titans' situation is that everyone knows the coolest apocalypse destruction always occurs in New York. This is a home game.
Washington Redskins: Beat the Browns and Then Keep Their Stadium
When it comes down to it, you can't deny history. Our founding fathers and all those little Pilgrims stole the land from the Native Americans. I'm not saying this rebuttal has to be violent, but isn't it about time the Redskins stole it back?
After years of degradation to the Native American community and a refusal to change mascot names such as the Redskins for any number of naive reasons, the time has come for a team misrepresenting that race to do something nice for them.
If Cleveland Browns Stadium turns out to be the unbreakable shelter while the Earth is falling apart, you can thank RGIII.