A Hater's Guide to NFL Week 16: Why Your Team Is Bound to Lose
'Tis the season to be jolly?
No no my friends, it's Week 16 of the NFL season, and that means it's the season to laugh at folly. This season, there's plenty to laugh at as team after team reveal their true character, roll over and do their best dead cockroach impressions as the real men prepare to play football in January.
Don't get too cocky though, playoff teams, Santa's got a big old lump of coal for your stocking as well. Just because you're slightly better than the teams that really stink doesn't mean you're not terrible as well. You're all terrible, every last one of you.
Deck the halls with hate, because this hater has plenty to spare.
Here's why your team is sure to lose in Week 16.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Matt Ryan, a big believer in the whole Mayan thing, is actually still holed up in a panic room somewhere and isn't able to show up for the game. Luke McCown (or whichever McCown brother they have, who can keep them straight these days?) plays a solid game until he finds the sheet on his play cards that allow him to audible to a pass.
As Jim Schwartz walks onto the field for pregame warmups, Mike Smith stops him to say "Hi," but notices a little something on his face. Smith reaches up to get it for him, but Schwartz's entire face falls off, revealing....MATT MILLEN!
A Jim Ross-style "Bah Gawd" rumbles throughout Ford Field as Millen is forced to take to the PA system to explain his genius plan (and excellent makeup and workout regimen) to run the Lions into the ground even further. His last act is cutting Calvin Johnson before he drops the mic, straps on a jet pack and flies right into the Ford Field roof—didn't quite see that one through.
New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
New Orleans Saints
Blah blah blah....Bountygate....blah blah blah Sean Payton headed to Dallas next season...blah blah blah. In truth, the Saints lose because Drew Brees will spend more time picking himself up than a failed self-help specialist.
We interrupt our regularly scheduled hate to ask: What in the heck is going on in that picture? Who are Jason Garrett and Anthony Spencer playing peek-a-boo with? It better be DeMarcus Ware, cause that dude is a peek-a-boo freak. Seriously though, cute moment for a team about to have Drew Brees drop 50 on them.
Tennessee Titans vs. Green Bay Packers
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
*Looks at one sideline....looks at the other sideline* Yeah, we're done here. Titans lose big.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers, jealous of the attention Christian Ponder is receiving due to his recent nuptials, dumps his longtime girlfriend (Destiny Newton) and asks out the entire 2012 Sports Illustrated swimsuit cast. It seems like a good idea at first, but when he shows up to this week's game wearing only a red smoking jacket and a smile, his teammates realize they've lost him.
Matt Flynn is given the last-second starting opportunity because no one in Green Bay really cares who the backup quarterback is or that Flynn left in the offseason.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
Bruce Arians throws both challenge flags and calls all three timeouts during the National Anthem because he swears he heard one of the timpani out of tune. During the game, he calls 17 straight five-step drops even though Andrew Luck gets pressured or hit on every single one. Luck, fearing for his life and/or chiropractor bill, decides to audible to a couple shorter passes and drives down the field for the score.
After the game, Indianapolis sports radio declares Arians the Coach of the Year and can't understand why he isn't in the Hall of Fame already.
Kansas City Chiefs
Scott Pioli....Scott Pioli is the reason you lose this game and every game. He handed the keys of this franchise to a quarterback who lost his job to Brady freaking Quinn. Seriously, he runs the Chiefs like I run a fantasy drafted team on Madden. I can't wait until he's back with the Patriots and being heralded as a genius again so he can eventually ruin another team.
In the meantime, enjoy your interceptions.
Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Chan Gailey, still confused about which running back to use each week, installs Ryan Fitzpatrick as the team's starting tailback and uses Tyler Thigpen at quarterback. The ploy actually works as the Dolphins are unable to tackle while rolling around on the grass laughing hysterically.
Sadly, however, Gailey decides to make some halftime adjustments (read: a nap) and puts Fitzpatrick back at quarterback in just enough time to throw four interceptions in a blowout loss.
Ryan Tannehill, while looking for a bathroom that John Jerry hasn't used recently, stumbles onto Mike Sherman and Joe Philbin tinkering with a huge piece of machinery. They flip the switch and a blinding light pierces the room. As the light fades, it reveals a young Brett Favre—brought to the future from 1995. As Sherman and Philbin describe what they've done, Tannehill storms off to find the nearest bar.
The plan backfires, however, when someone tells Young Favre about smartphones.
San Diego Chargers vs. New York Jets
Nick Laham/Getty Images
San Diego Chargers
Fans organize a protest against Philip Rivers. Meanwhile, none of them can manage to name half of the line in front of him, anyone he's throwing to or even the last time they bought a ticket. Rivers, in response to their protest, promises to "try his best" and then throws 20 rage-fueled interceptions to get back at them.
No one really notices the difference.
New York Jets
Mark Sanchez, when told Greg McElroy would be getting the start this weekend, laughs it off because the idea of accountability in the Jets organization is ridiculous. He spends most of the game talking over McElroy in the huddle and trying to steal the snap every time the Jets are in shotgun. (I'm not even going to describe what happens when McElroy is under center, this is a family show).
Strangely enough, the "new offense" confuses the defense just enough to actually work. Sparano, sensing that his offense is actually working, immediately calls a timeout and lets Tim Tebow play the rest of the game.
Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
The Redskins start the game the same way they start every game—running RGIII into the ground and pretending like he won't need his knees past the age of 28. Kirk Cousins, who's seen this a few times before, starts warming up.
Mike Shanahan, however, shows his normal level of compassion and keeps Griffin in the game, forcing him to limp through the offense.
I mean, you've watched the Eagles this season, right? Just keep pretending Nick Foles is the answer, that'll help stave off the depression...for a while at least.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
I'm not sure how much Andy Dalton would wet himself looking at that picture of Brett Keisel over there, but I'm confident he'll need a new Pull-Up after seeing this. Or, maybe, you know, Dalton doesn't spend the entire game running for his life? Nah...
Ben Roethlisberger throws his second touchdown of the game and walks over to the sideline. Todd Haley, because he's an idiot, mumbles, "maybe my play-calling isn't so bad after all." Big Ben turns and throws a football right into Haley's gut, because he's an idiot too. The rest of the game is spent trying to separate the two and then trying to free the people who got stuck in Troy Polamalu's hair during the scrum.
St. Louis Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
J. Meric/Getty Images
St. Louis Rams
Sam Bradford pitches a full-blown "hissy fit" before the game because he's sick of taking the flack for an offensive line that couldn't stop a Pop Warner pass rush and a bunch of receivers who spend more time in the trainer's room than getting open.
Everyone ignores Bradford, like normal, but he can faintly be heard screaming: "I'M A GREAT LEADER!" sometime during the third quarter as his teammates play without him.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Williams spends the entire game jawing about how open he's getting against the Rams' secondary. His final stat line is one catch, seven drops and three interceptions off of balls he tipped. Meanwhile, Greg Schiano continues to yell at his team, but all they here is the "whah whah" voice that adults make in Peanuts. Losing will do that to ya.
Oakland Raiders vs. Carolina Panthers
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
Raiders Santa gets Raiders fans exactly what they want for Christmas—every coach and personnel person is fired and the ghost of Al Davis takes over right where he left off. Usain Bolt is signed to be the new starting wide receiver, and Carson Palmer is given a 1,000-year extension with a value somewhere around the gross domestic product of the entire industrialized world.
Just win, baby.
Cam Newton spends the entire week before the game donating his time and money to local Boys and Girls clubs. Local media grabs a picture of him dressed in a Santa suit and asks: "Is Cam Taking Football Seriously?" Newton, completely understandably, punts that reporter through a window.
Meanwhile, his teammates still don't know how to play football.
New England Patriots vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
New England Patriots
The whole Mayan Calendar thing has already been proved wrong. So, since the world isn't ending, let's just assume the Patriots win this one. OK? OK.
The Jaguars, completely frightened of the Patriots' upcoming visit, pump smoke into their stadium in an effort to level the playing field. It stands to reason that a Tom Brady who can't see two feet in front of him should be roughly the same skill level as a normal Chad Henne performance.
Regrettably, the Jaguars forget their stadium doesn't have a roof. The smoke clears almost immediately, and Brady passes for 500 yards in a blowout victory.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Houston Texans
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Ponder, after his fifth pick, starts to explain to Peterson, "Hey, man, I'm sorry, really crazy story, I had this eyelash in my eye and it must've looked just like one of those receivers whose names I don't know."
Peterson, calmly, pulls Ponder's underpants clear over his head and stuffs him into the nearest locker. He spends the rest of the game taking direct snaps and rushes for 350 yards in the loss.
So, just like every other week.
Arian Foster spends the entire week mentally and spiritually preparing himself for the matchup against Peterson. However, as his mind's eye reveals the mysteries of the universe and he transcends harmony and understanding, he doesn't notice the pieces of real bacon being placed on his pregame vegan soy quinoa burger.
Tasting bacon for the first time in months, Foster immediately quits football and heads to the nearest Golden Corral. He was last seen holding an entire rack of baby back ribs under the "Chocolate Wonderfall."
Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Pat Shurmur, sensing that he is inexplicably saving his own job toward the end of the season and really looking forward to all the money the Browns will be contractually obligated to pay him even after firing him, tells the Browns players that they should stop ignoring Brad Childress and doing the exact opposite of whatever he says.
The Browns offense doesn't score another point for the rest of the season.
Peyton Manning, now a bajillionaire after his investment in Papa John's pizza pays off due to new legislation in Colorado, makes the mistake of actually tasting one of his pizzas. The next six days are a blur of digestive trouble and empty Pepto Bismol bottles.
Brock Osweiler, meanwhile, is unable to get much accomplished in relief as a group of stoned Broncos fans convince themselves he's an escaped Giraffe.
Chicago Bears vs. Arizona Cardinals
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Shown: Jay Cutler trying his best to shove his head into the ground rather than watch the horror that is the Bears' late-season collapse.
Not shown: whichever bush league quarterback the Cardinals trot out this week having his head shoved into the ground by Julius Peppers, repeatedly, like every other play.
New York Giants vs. Baltimore Ravens
Larry French/Getty Images
New York Giants
Manning: "So, Ray, I hear you're playing this week. Man, that's impressive. I can't believe you're able to come back from that injury so quickly. Worried? Naw, I'm not worried. I'm just going to go out there and try my best and I'm sure my teammates won't let me down."
Lewis: "Uh, Eli, you just peed on my shoe."
The Ravens, content with having their playoff appearance locked down, bench Joe Flacco for the rest of the season to make sure he's healthy for the playoffs. However, after the offense has already scored 40 points and the Ravens are almost assured of victory, Flacco decides to put himself back in the game if only to quiet the chants for Tyrod Taylor.
Six punts and two interceptions later, Flacco walks to the sideline. He would later admit that, "maybe 'elite' was a little strong."
San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick is feeling great as he fools the Seahawks' defense and scampers past the line of scrimmage. He feels slightly less great, however, when Chris Clemons catches up to him, snaps him in half and chucks each one of his spindly little legs into a different section of the Seattle crowd to be feasted upon.
Harbaugh goes to put Alex Smith into the game, but realizes he Smith never made it onto the team plane.
Smith, for his part, manages to prepare a lovely dinner of macaroni and cheese before foiling the holiday shenanigans of a few dimwitted burglars.
Pete Carroll, desperately wanting this new-found success to continue, enacts a plan to keep the winning atmosphere just like he did at USC. However, no one on the Seahawks really cares about free used cars or the new "French tutors." Rather than put together an offensive game plan, Carroll spends most of the week taking confused high school kids out to dinner and trying to convince their frightened mothers that they shouldn't call the police.
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff at The Go Route.