One Thing on Each NFL Team's Holiday Wish List
A chill is in the air. Twirling, dirty leaves are dancing upon the ground. Lights encircle our towns, and smarmy Hallmark cards are being distributed willy-nilly.
The holidays are here.
In the spirit of the season, let's take a look at each NFL team's wish list. We'll check it twice and then describe one key item we found. From the hope for a perfect season (Packers) to the hope that Curtis Painter will never be a starter again (Colts), these wishes run the gamut.
I've organized this slideshow with NFC teams first, followed by AFC teams. They are grouped by division.
The Arizona Cardinals Are Going to Have Their Holiday Down on the Farm
Citizens, lend me your ears!
Right now the Arizona Cardinals offense is a dry husk. They barely have a kernel of hope.
At the top of the Cardinals' wish list is more delicious corn on the (Kevin) Kolb.
Once he returns, Kolb needs to show that he can be a franchise quarterback and that the team was wise to trade for him in the offseason.
The Seattle Seahawks Need a Better Uniform
If any team is in need of a uniform change, it's the Seahawks.
They should take a cue from the neighboring Oregon Ducks and get some stylish duds.
While a new uniform may be on their wish list, they also want a few dynamic playmakers on offense and a legitimate quarterback.
The San Francisco 49ers Want Home-Field Advantage Throughout the Playoffs
A virtual lock to win the putrid NFL West division, the 9-1 49ers don't have a huge list this year.
Their much-maligned quarterback Alex Smith is playing efficiently, and their talented defense hounds their opposition.
Their biggest wish is to secure home-field advantage in the playoffs.
A tough team that wants to punish you on the ground and thrash you in the trenches, the 49ers will be better at home when the playoffs start.
The St. Louis Rams Need a Sharper Passing Attack
The Rams' anemic offense needs help.
Sam Bradford isn't living up to the promise he showed in his rookie year, and the Rams have a severe lack of weapons in the passing game.
While the pickup of Brandon Lloyd from the Denver Broncos was a good start, St. Louis wants a new injury-free receiving corps in its stocking this year.
The Philadelphia Eagles Want a Different Kind of Trophy
The Eagles want a Lombardi Trophy for winning the offseason. That's the only way they'll get one this year.
They have been supremely disappointing after compiling big-name free agents in the offseason.
With their game-changing receiver DeSean Jackson causing problems because he's dissatisfied with his contract, the Eagles also have a quieter locker room on their wish list.
A Brawl Between Beck and Grossman Is in the Cards for the Redskins
The Redskins wish for a brawl between quarterbacks John Beck and Rex Grossman.
Neither will win the fight, but both will be injured and unable to play.
Then Mike Shanahan and Dan Snyder can pick up Peyton Manning in the offseason after the Colts draft Andrew Luck to be their quarterback without needing to worry about the rotten QBs currently on their roster.
The Dallas Cowboys Want a Thank-You Gift for DeMarco Murray
Since DeMarco Murray took the reins of the running game from Felix Jones five weeks ago, the Dallas Cowboys have gotten back on track offensively.
With huge production from the rookie third-round pick, Tony Romo has less pressure on him to force dangerous throws.
No single person is as responsible for the Cowboys' midseason turnaround as Murray.
They should give him a nice thank-you gift—like a fat contract.
The New York Giants Need a Solid December
After fading in December the past few years, the Giants need a solid December to make the playoffs this year.
If they can win three out of four games, they will almost certainly get in.
Matt Forte Gets a New Contract for the Chicago Bears
Forte has shown this season that his dynamic running style and soft, pass-catching hands are a perfect fit for the Chicago Bears offense.
He has more than proven his worth and deserves a new contract.
The Bears will benefit from his skills long into the future.
Keep Your Champagne Corked, 1972 Dolphins!
The Green Bay Packers are rolling toward a perfect season right now.
With an opportunistic defense and a well-oiled offense led by the near-perfect Aaron Rodgers, the Packers seem poised to match the 1972 Miami Dolphins' perfection.
At the top of the Packers' wish list is a perfect season that culminates with the old '72 Dolphins leaving their champagne corked and on ice.
The Minnesota Vikings Want to Be Rid of Donovan McNabb
The Vikings would like to send McNabb on the next Love Boat out of town.
They didn't have to "Ponder" a quarterback change for long after McNabb's thoroughly uninspiring start to the season.
The Vikings would also love to have a younger and more effective defense, but McNabb's departure still tops their list.
The Detroit Lions Want a Rematch with the San Francisco 49ers
Not only would the Lions like a rematch with the 49ers in the playoffs, but Jim Schwartz would also like a joy-buzzer for his handshake after the game with Jim Harbaugh.
The Lions look like a wild-card team this season, and if they get to face the 49ers in the playoffs, they'd love to give them their comeuppance.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Need More Food and Experience
At the start of the season, Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris described his team as "youngry."
He combined young and hungry into a nifty portmanteau to encapsulate both their collective age and their desire to win.
After a promising 2010, Morris had good reason to believe that his team would step up and compete for a playoff spot this season.
That hasn't happened, however. Maybe the Bucs need more experience, age and food to satiate their hunger.
So give those guys a five-course meal and a couple of veterans!
The New Orleans Saints Want a Net on the Sidelines
Saints head coach Sean Payton suffered a torn MCL (the ligament, not the cafeteria), broken knee and broken tibia in a sideline collision with tight end Jimmy Graham during a game against the Buccaneers in mid-October.
The Saints want a net installed across the entire sideline for all games to prevent this type of injury in the future.
The Atlanta Falcons Need a Map to Find the End Zone
At 6-4, the Atlanta Falcons have underperformed at times this season.
One of their bigger problems has been converting touchdowns once they're in the red zone.
My daughters know that when Dora can't find her way, she has to pull out a map.
A smiling map with directions to the end zone is just what the Falcons need to cruise toward the playoffs.
"Where's the Beef?" The Panthers Need Better Defensive Linemen
Rookie phenom Cam Newton has lit up the NFL with excellent play at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers offense.
Now their defense needs to step up to support their success offensively.
Currently ranked No. 28 in total team defense, the Panthers badly need talent on their defensive line. They are getting gashed for an average of 140 yards per game on the ground.
A couple of hefty run-stoppers are high on the Panthers' wish list.
The Colts Want to Cut Curtis Painter's Curly Blond Locks
In the Book of Judges in the Bible, the Israelite champion Samson possesses amazing strength. His God-given power was only effective if his hair was never cut.
Samson gave in to temptation and told the Philistine Delilah his secret. The Philistines sheared off his hair, and he lost his strength.
Just the opposite of the biblical Samson, if Curtis Painter's long blond hair is cut, he actually gains strength.
In Painter's case, his strength is holding a clipboard for a starting quarterback. Whether it's Peyton Manning back in 2012 or it's Andrew Luck, the Colts want Painter to get back to his strength (and lose those ridiculous goldilocks).
The Tennessee Titans Want the 2010 Chris Johnson Back
With the mediocre Matt Leinart now the Houston Texans' quarterback, the Titans have renewed hope that they could win the AFC South.
To do so, they need CJ2K to return to his 2010 2K form.
The dynamic runner who runs over tacklers and jukes linebackers with alacrity heads up the Titans' wish list.
The Jaguars Want a New Suit for Jack Del Rio
The Jacksonville Jaguars' nattily dressed head coach needs a new suit—a suit with a pink slip in the right-hand pocket.
The always subpar Jaguars need a fresh start with a new coach.
Firing Jack Del Rio is at the top of their list.
The Texans Need Matt Leinart to Live Up to the Promise He Showed at USC
The suddenly dominant Houston Texans defense has done more to push the team into playoff contention than anything else.
Wade Phillips has the defense playing fast and tough, and their rushing attack is top-notch.
The only thing they fear at this point in the season is that without the now-injured Matt Schaub at quarterback, they'll slip back into mediocrity.
They want Matt Leinart to play well so that their offense continues to perform efficiently.
The Chargers Want Rivers to Flow Again
The San Diego Chargers have lost five straight games and look nothing like the dominant offense that they have been for most of the last four years.
They want the inconsistent Philip Rivers to start to flow with his offensive playmakers again.
He's shown flashes, but on the whole, his performance has been well off his normal Pro Bowl-caliber play.
The Kansas City Chiefs Want a New Hoodie for Todd Haley
Bill Belichick's disciple Todd Haley needs a new hoodie.
These new duds need to be imbued with the Belichickian superpower that can turn around a franchise and start down the winning path.
The Chiefs are flailing in a weak AFC West division right now.
With Jamaal Charles out for the season, Matt Cassel sidelined and a young and mistake-prone defense giving up too many big plays, the Chiefs are in desperate need of some superpowers.
The Denver Broncos Want a Defensive Rookie of the Year Award for Von Miller
With 9.5 sacks on the season, Von Miller has shown why he deserved to be the second pick in the draft earlier this year.
The Broncos want him to continue to terrorize opposing teams' quarterbacks.
Right now, the Broncos defense and timely Tim Tebow-led drives are carrying the team to victories.
With a 5-5 record, the Broncos have an outside chance of taking the AFC West and getting to the playoffs for the first time in five years.
Miller's continued success would help take them there.
The Oakland Raiders Want Fewer Penalties
The 2011 Oakland Raiders are on pace to break the record for most penalties in a season.
Head coach Hue Jackson recently talked to league officials about what he sees as excessive personal foul calls on his team.
With Carson Palmer playing well and an inside track (at 6-4, they have the best record in the division) to winning the AFC West, the Raiders would be in a much better spot if they weren't constantly getting hit with penalties.
The Cleveland Browns Need the Real McCoy at Quarterback
Like Obi-Wan Kenobi when he was questioned by stormtroopers upon entering Mos Eisley, the Cleveland Browns need to say, "This is not the quarterback we're looking for."
They need to move along and find the real McCoy at quarterback.
Colt McCoy doesn't have what it takes to get it done as a starting QB in the league.
The Browns need someone new.
The Steelers Need a Raven-Killin' Solution
After getting shellacked in their season opener against the Baltimore Ravens and then losing by three to them in Week 9, the Steelers need to figure out how to beat the Ravens before the playoffs start.
There is a good chance that they might meet up again, and when they do, the Steelers need to generate more offense than they did the past two times they played the Ravens.
The Baltimore Ravens Want to Beat Bad Teams
With losses to Tennessee, Jacksonville and Seattle this season, the Ravens have developed a propensity for losing to bad teams.
Most of those losses came right after a big victory over a good team.
As such, it's likely that the Ravens let down and then perform down to their competition.
They'll need to fix that problem to secure a good spot in the playoffs.
The Bengals Have a "Two-Fer" Wish
The orange and black from Cincinnati really want two things to happen.
The first is that they make the playoffs led by their surprising rookie Andy Dalton.
The Bengals defense is swarming and hard-nosed. They also have enough playmakers on offense to stay with most teams.
The second part of their wish is that the Carson Palmer-helmed Raiders miss the playoffs and get a higher draft pick so that they net even more from their midseason trade.
The New England Patriots Want Ochocinco to Become Moss-Like
When they signed him in the offseason, the Patriots hoped that Chad Ochocinco would be a deep threat a la Randy Moss of a few years back.
He has been thoroughly disappointing so far this year.
A rolling Ochocinco gathers no Mossian catches.
With an improving defense and a sharp passing attack, the Patriots would be even better if Ochocinco could stretch the field.
The Dolphins Want Hootie and the Blowfish to Change Their Lyrics
Hootie and the Blowfish's 1994 hit song "Only Wanna Be With You" features the lyrics, "I'm such a baby 'cause the Dolphins make me cry."
The Dolphins want those lyrics to change.
After a horrible start to the season, the 'Fins have come alive with some great wins.
Matt Moore has been a better-than-average quarterback, and their bench has been deeper than the cleft in Chad Henne's chin.
Even Reggie Bush is starting to show the game-changing promise that caused the Dolphins to want to sign him in the offseason.
Now if they can just get the lyrics changed so that Darius Rucker sings, "I'm so happy 'cause the Dolphins make me proud."
The Jets Want to Ban the Term "Sanchize"
Not only is the term "Sanchize" ridiculous, it also doesn't come close to describing the play that the New York Jets have seen from their third-year quarterback this season.
Mark Sanchez has been mistake-prone and off-target all year, and if the Jets can't turn it around in the next six games, the team needs to reconsider its options at quarterback.
The term "Sanchize" needs to go away, and the Jets need to get better across the board.
The Buffalo Bills Want to Rip Up a Contract
As the Bills' sizzling start has given way to their typically wretched ways, the team has to rue the day that it gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a fat contract extension.
While their defense certainly hasn't been good and their receiving corps has been decimated by injuries, Fitzpatrick has been pedestrian these past few games.
The Bills want a redo on that contract.
They also want a time machine to go back to 1991 and push Scott Norwood's kick to the left in Super Bowl XXV—but that's asking just a bit too much.