Reasons Each NFL Team Has to Be Thankful This Holiday Season
'Tis the season for giving thanks, and I thought it would be fun to look around the NFL landscape at all 32 teams and reveal what each fanbase has to be thankful for this holiday season.
It’s done in Power Rankings order—as I see it—from worst to first, and while there are no surprises in where it starts or where it ends, the fact remains that everyone has something for which to be grateful.
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32) Indianapolis Colts
Whether they select him to be their quarterback of the future or trade his rights on draft day, the Colts can be grateful that in 1989, Andrew Luck’s parents brought something into this world that—in football circles—is approximately as valuable as the Arc of the Covenant—and Indy has the map to its whereabouts.
31) St. Louis Rams
In addition to being grateful that there are only six more games left on their schedule, Rams fans can be grateful that when the 2012 NFL season kicks off, the best receiver on the team probably won’t be named Mike Sims-Walker.
30) Minnesota Vikings
With their season long over, Vikings fans can join hands Thursday night and be universally grateful that Adrian Peterson’s ankle injury wasn’t much, much worse than it really was.
Also, Jared Allen is chasing Michael Strahan’s sack record on a 2-8 team, so they’ve got that going for them.
29) Jacksonville Jaguars
With nothing but the draft to look forward to before the start of the 2012 season, Jacksonville’s fans can still be grateful that Los Angeles hasn’t stolen their franchise away…yet.
28) Carolina Panthers
Two words: Cam Newton.
27) Washington Redskins
After years of ineptitude at the position, it appears that even the Redskins’ front office has come to the realization that they need to draft a QB in the first round of April’s draft; and for that, Washington fans can be grateful.
26) Arizona Cardinals
The possibility of 2011 rookie CB Patrick Peterson returning punts for the next dozen or so years in Arizona gives Cardinals fans at least one more thing to be grateful for this year in addition to Larry Fitzgerald.
25) Miami Dolphins
Hey, at least you live in Miami, right?
24) Cleveland Browns
Hey, at least you live in—oops...sorry about that.
Ummm…well, at least you can be grateful that LeBron has won the same number of championships that I have.
…Still doesn’t do it for you? All right, well Joe Haden is a very good cornerback. That’s really all I have. Sorry.
23) Seattle Seahawks
We are only five months away from April’s draft, which means we are only five months away from finding out who Seattle’s next QB is going to be.
Sorry, Seahawks fans, that’s really all I have for you, too.
22) Kansas City Chiefs
Chiefs fans can be grateful that safety Eric Berry and running back Jamaal Charles will be back on the field in just 10 short months, at the start of the 2012 NFL season.
Oh, and they also should have much less Tyler Palko next season. So, there’s that.
21) Buffalo Bills
Buffalo fans can be grateful that they had something to cheer for in the first two months of the season for the first time in a long time.
Also, they can be grateful that David Nelson ran over to his Dallas Cowboys cheerleader girlfriend and gave hope to all of the average-looking guys out there that you too can date a smoking-hot cheerleader.
You know—if you’re a professional football player and everything.
20) New York Jets
19) San Diego Chargers
If Chargers fans have anything to be thankful about, as their team currently sits two games behind Oakland at 4-6, it’s that this will likely be Norv Turner’s last season in San Diego.
Also, you still get to live in Southern California, right?
18) Denver Broncos
When you really think about it, athletes truly are just entertainers. You want them to play well and win, but their only real job is to sell-out arenas, sell merchandise and generate a buzz that stirs up interest in the team.
I guess Broncos fans can be grateful that—when defining what a quarterback’s job really is—theirs may be the best in the league.
17) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(In my Ron Jaworski voice.)
“You can not overstate the value in having stability at the quarterback position in the National Football League. Josh Freeman gives that to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; and for that, Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans can be grateful.”
16) Philadelphia Eagles
With a playoff berth unlikely, the only thing Eagles fans can be grateful for this holiday season is that there won’t be any “Dream Team” talk heading into next season. Also, LeSean McCoy is really, really good and hasn’t complained about his contract…yet.
15) Oakland Raiders
In addition to being grateful that the team has yet to trade their 2013 first-round pick, Raiders fans can be grateful that they play in the AFC West, where the weekly personification of mediocrity can still get you into the playoffs every season.
14) Tennessee Titans
Hey, at least Chris Johnson hasn’t held a press conference to announce that he no longer cares about football, right?
Even Lindsay Lohan thinks it’s outrageous how quickly Johnson has flushed his career down the toilet after one big payday.
13) Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have given Bengals fans plenty to be grateful for this holiday season, but perhaps the most astonishing part of Cincy’s surprising season is that Pacman Jones hasn’t been arrested since July. The times, they are a-changin’.
12) Houston Texans
With linebacker Mario Williams and QB Matt Schaub lost for the season, you would think Texans fans don’t have much to be grateful for at this point. But at 7-3, fans should just be grateful that their team looks poised to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
And if they don’t, Matt Leinart should, at least, provide great comic relief down the stretch.
11) New York Giants
If nothing else, Giants fans should be grateful that it only took New York media outlets eight seasons to realize that you can’t spell the word “elite” without the letters E-L-I. Somehow, though, it only took the same group one day to beat that dead horse directly into the ground.
10) Dallas Cowboys
In addition to discovering hidden gem DeMarco Murray this season, Cowboys fans can be grateful that they play the Dolphins this year on Thanksgiving.
Oh, and also be grateful that the giant TV suspended above the playing field hasn’t fallen down yet.
9) Atlanta Falcons
(Jaworski voice again.)
“I mentioned this earlier in reference to Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but let me just reiterate that you can not overstate the value of having stability at the quarterback position in the National Football League. That’s exactly what the Atlanta Falcons have in Matt Ryan—or as I like to call him, 'Matty Ice'—and he’s given the Atlanta Falcons fans a lot to be grateful for this holiday season.”
8) Chicago Bears
7) Detroit Lions
Somewhat lost in the shuffle of how dominant their defensive line is and how great Calvin Johnson has been this season is the fact that Lions fans have (so far) had their one wish for the season come true—Matt Stafford staying healthy.
As football fans and fantasy football players, I think we are all grateful for that.
6) New England Patriots
Belichick and Brady. Brady and Belichick. In whichever order you thank them, Patriots fans, don’t forget to express your gratitude towards team doctor Thomas Gill, who apparently performed some sort of medical magic while repairing Wes Welker’s ACL in February of 2010.
5) Pittsburgh Steelers
Perhaps the thing Steelers fans should be most grateful for is that they don’t necessarily need to beat the Ravens again in order to make it to the Super Bowl.
4) Baltimore Ravens
Perhaps the thing Ravens fans should be most grateful for is that they don’t necessarily need Joe Flacco to win them a single game in order to make it to the Super Bowl.
3) New Orleans Saints
Anytime you can score 62 points on an NFL team (and I use that term very loosely, Indianapolis), the fanbase is going to be very grateful for the offense; but I think Darren Sproles, in particular, deserves an extra turkey leg this Thanksgiving.
He, after all, turned out to be the player Saints fans hoped Reggie Bush would become.
2) San Francisco 49ers
The obvious recipient of 49ers fans' gratitude has been Jim Harbaugh—and rightfully so—but don’t forget about Alex Smith. He may not be sexy (even though he kind of looks like Ryan Gosling), but he gets the job done.
He probably won’t ever live up to the expectations that come with being the No. 1 overall pick, but 49ers fans, if I had told you on draft day that he would be leading a 9-1 team staring straight at a first-round bye in the playoffs, would you really care that you could have drafted Aaron Rodgers?
…All right, maybe that wasn’t the best way to go with the argument, but you get the point.
1) Green Bay Packers
Thursday night, Packers fans, when you all hold hands and tell your loved ones about the 10-0 team for which you are grateful, don’t forget to individually thank the 23 teams that passed on Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 NFL draft.
Oh, and Minnesota passed on him two times to select Troy Williamson and Erasmus James, so make sure you thank your hated rivals twice.