Often in the NFL previews you read this time of year, you’ll see the writers include a “Best-Case Scenario” and “Worst-Case Scenario” for each team before making a prediction that will most likely involve the team in question finishing in the exact same spot in their division as the year before. After a short time, however, reading through those best-and-worst-case scenarios gets rather laborious because, when you get right down to it, the best-and-worst-case scenarios are basically the same for every team. Best-case scenario: [insert your team here] goes 19-0, wins the Super Bowl, and somehow becomes exempt from the salary cap rules for the next 15 years! Worst-case scenario: nuclear holocaust, everyone dies. Essentially, that’s the ceiling and floor for every NFL team in 2012 and you’ve likely already thought through and accepted those possibilities in your mind beforehand.
But have you, dear reader, thought about the Absurd-Yet-Somehow-Plausible-Case Scenario for your team this upcoming year? I fear you have not. Thus, allow me to go team-by-team and run some seemingly ludicrous possibilities by you that, after you’ve thought about it for a little while, will actually begin to make a lot of sense…
Arizona Cardinals: After seeing the 73rd uncatchable intended pass of the season sail over his head in Week 4, Larry Fitzgerald abruptly retires from football during the game, journeys to Tibet in order to become a Buddhist monk, and lives the life of a discouraged hermit for the rest of his days. Kevin Kolb and/or John Skelton begin overthrowing Early Doucet in response.
Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan becomes the first quarterback in NFL history to complete all 40 of his pass attempts in a single game, Week 14 against the Panthers. Unfortunately, those 40 completions are only five yard dumpoffs to Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers and the Falcons lose 31-19.
Baltimore Ravens: Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron fully realizes his manifest destiny as the Crazy Old Uncle position coach in the NFL and calls only 60-yard bomb plays to Torrey Smith in the Week 3 game against the Patriots, then only Ray Rice runs up the middle the next week against the Browns. He receives a five-year contract extension after the season.
Buffalo Bills: Ryan Fitzpatrick acknowledges he cheated on a midterm at Harvard, retroactively losing his credits for that class and getting his degree revoked. After enrolling at Erie Community College to make up that class and re-earning his degree, commentators begin referring to Fitzpatrick as “Erie Community College quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.”
Carolina Panthers: Owner Jerry Richardson disguises himself in black-face during a meet-and-greet in inner-city Charlotte as a “way to have fun.” He dies shortly thereafter.
Chicago Bears: Left tackle J’Marcus Webb briefly gets demoted after giving up a sack to the Jaguars’ newest defensive end, eleven-year-old girl Madison Taylor, but gets his job back with a strong week at practice. Of the incident, Coach Lovie Smith says, “We like our team,” “Jay is our quarterback,” and “We still have a lot of football left to play.”
Cincinnati Bengals: Owner Mike Brown begins charging his players $1.75 for every time they have to use the restroom at the team’s practice facility. He dies shortly thereafter.
Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weeden reveals in early November that he is the real-life Benjamin Button and, at 72 years old, is actually aging in reverse. Coach Pat Shurmur still refuses to put Weeden back in at starting quarterback.
Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones “accidentally” plays a five-minute compilation video consisting of footage of him picking his nose in his luxury suite on the giant scoreboard at Cowboys Stadium. Thanks to Rob Ryan, however, it remains only the second-most disgusting thing seen by fans that day.
Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning’s head falls off during the opening game against the Steelers; a crack team of surgeons attending the game is able to reattach it within five minutes, but for the rest of the season, Manning’s head is tilted at a 45-degree angle. He still posts a higher passer rating than Matt Cassel.
Detroit Lions: Jim Schwartz takes exception to the pat on the back given to him by Vikings coach Leslie Frazier after a disappointing loss in Week 4 and starts a massive brawl that ends with forty-five people dead and hundreds more wounded. It becomes known as the fourth-worst sports brawl in Detroit history.
Green Bay Packers: B.J. Raji fully embraces his manifest destiny as the second coming of Gilbert Brown and travels tavern to tavern across the great state of Wisconsin, attempting to get different burgers named after him. Unfortunately, he balloons to 575 pounds by December and is put on IR.
Houston Texans: The Texans lose a heartbreaker to the Broncos in Week 3 when defensive coordinator Wade Phillips spills nacho cheese on his play sheet, thus leaving the Texans’ defense in disarray at the end of the game. Phillips attempts to console fans in his post-game news conference by licking his lips and saying, “Worth it.”
Indianapolis Colts: Jim Irsay becomes convinced that he is Pink, the protagonist in Pink Floyd’s concept album The Wall and begins performing concerts at Lucas Oil Stadium posing as a fascist dictator. He dies shortly thereafter.
Jacksonville Jaguars: In Week 9 against the Lions, Blaine Gabbert receives what is believed to be the first ever “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Pooping on the Field” penalty after inadvertently catching the gaze of Kyle Vanden Bosch before the first snap of the game.
Kansas City Chiefs: Romeo Crennel becomes infatuated with a lovely woman named Juliet Benatelli at a team dinner function and begins a torrid yet ultimately tragic love affair with her. The Chiefs go 6-10.
Miami Dolphins: “By sheer luck,” Lauren Tannehill manages to appear on-camera in her luxury suite during every Dolphins home game, becomes the most popular person associated with the team.
Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings lose on a heart-breaking Hail Mary in Week 1 to the Jaguars after defenders ignore Leslie Frazier’s prevent play call in favor of linebackers coach Mike Singletary’s “GET AFTER THE QUARTERBACK” audible.
New England Patriots: Tom Brady throws for 5,500 yards, 53 TDs, and 3 INTs in leading the Patriots to another undefeated season, but is knocked out of the divisional playoff game against the Texans with another torn ACL. Patriot fans remark they knew Brady was a choker all along.
New Orleans Saints: When Commissioner Roger Goodell makes the mistake of attending the Chargers-Saints Sunday Night game in week 5 without any bodyguards, suspended linebacker Jonathan Vilma enters his luxury suite, shouts “Sic Semper Tyrannis!” and shoots Goodell. Saints fans respond by shouting, “WHO DAT! WHO DAT GONNA SUSPEND DEM SAINTS WHODAT DREW BREES JUMBOLAYA KATRINA! GUMBO.”
New York Giants: Tom Coughlin is caught smiling accidentally on camera, realizes his mistake, then quickly reverts back to his standard “Can you believe this crap?” expression.
New York Jets: Honestly, there’s not really anything “absurd” that could happen to this team. I guess a tape of Tim Tebow starring in Rex Ryan’s latest foot fetish video might get close, but other than that this is a pretty freaking strange team.
Oakland Raiders: Unaccustomed to having a stable and effective front office, the fans in the Black Hole section of Raiders home games surprisingly get haircuts, remove their facepaint, and dress in collared shirts and khakis for every home game and don’t murder anyone.
Philadelphia Eagles: Juan Castillo unveils the unconventional defensive strategy of positioning all eleven defenders fifteen yards behind line of scrimmage on every play of Week 4 game against the Giants, blames resulting 56-7 loss on “living and learning.”
Pittsburgh Steelers: James Harrison and/or Ryan Clark brutally concuss someone, call resulting one-game suspension “a miscarriage of justice” and deny any wrongdoing.
St. Louis Rams: When the Rams’ last healthy receiver goes down with an injury in Week 11, the team takes the unusual step of attempting to sign Hall of Fame receiver Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch. Since Crazylegs died in 2004, however, their attempts are unsuccessful and they sign Devin Aromashodu instead.
San Diego Chargers: Norv Turner attempts a fake punt on first-and-goal from the one-yard-line in Week 13’s game against the Bengals as a way of “catching them with their pants down.” The snap is gunned twenty yards over Mike Scifres’ head and recovered and run back by the Bengals for a touchdown.
San Francisco 49ers: After a rash of early-season turnovers, the 49ers take the unusual step of kneeling on every offensive play, beginning with the Week 4 game against the Jets. Coach Jim Harbaugh rationalizes it as “simple opportunity cost management. The opportunity of being able to throw the ball is far outweighed by the cost of having Alex Smith at quarterback.”
Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll attempts to lead his team in a massive group hug before their Week 1 game against the Cardinals, but is rebuffed at every turn. Disgruntled and disappointed, Carroll refuses to make any decisions during the resulting 24-17 loss as a way of “making them realize how much it hurts to not have your feelings appreciated.”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vincent Jackson makes an incredible, lunging dive after the ball that shows off his incredible athleticism. Unfortunately, the “ball” in question is actually a meatball at a local restaurant; on the field, V-Jax alligator-arms approximately 150 pass attempts of the course of the season.
Tennessee Titans: Chris Johnson finally turns on his “gettin’ away from the cops” speed – in an attempt to chase down owner Bud Adams in the LP Field parking lot after the Week 9 loss to the Bears after Adams flipped him both birds for his 23-carry, 24-yard effort.
Washington Redskins: Frustrated by Robert Griffin III’s slow start, Dan Snyder signs Joe Montana to a contract, proclaiming that the Redskins “finally have their Super Bowl quarterback. And not for a cent over $200 million!”