1. New England Patriots – Catch a Falling Star
I’m not dumb enough to count the Pats out, especially in such a weak division. But there are plenty of question marks, most notably regarding their depleted receiving crew and the possibility that Tim Tebow convinced God to place a hex on them after they cut him. The Brady and Belichick era can’t last forever, but perhaps this team is poised for a new identity – like Catch a Falling Star’s Sydney Clarke, the famous actress who quits Hollywood to become a nurse at a failing steel mill. Granted, Clarke’s new identity sounds like it really, really sucks.
2. Miami Dolphins – Cradle of Lies
After a busy offseason, many are buying high on the Dolphins – unfortunately, it’s nothing but a Cradle of Lies. Sure, young QB Ryan Tannehill shows promise and the defense is skilled, but the departure of Jake Long and Reggie Bush leaves major holes in the offensive line and run game. Miami fans may be in for a surprise equal to that of pregnant protagonist Haley Collins, who discovers that her supposedly loving husband is really a homicidal maniac hell-bent on producing a son so he can claim his family’s inheritance!
3. Buffalo Bills – Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?
A first-year coach? An undrafted rookie possibly starting the season at quarterback? With a playoff drought that stretches back to 1999, the Buffalo Bills are once again asking, Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?
4. New York Jets – Live Once, Die Twice
The seemingly paradoxical title of this thriller aptly describes the New York Jets audacious campaign to become the first NFL team to somehow lose more games in a season than it actually plays.
1. Cincinnati Bengals – Breaking Through
A lot of experts think the Bengals, led by young QB Andy Dalton, are poised for a breakout season after two overlooked playoff appearances. One can’t help but compare them to Breaking Through’s Laura, a young deaf woman who finally learns sign language through the efforts of a caring social worker. I think Dalton is the deaf girl and A.J. Green is the social worker in this analogy.
2. Baltimore Ravens – Honeymoon with Mom
The Ravens are still in the honeymoon phase of their unexpected 2013 Super Bowl victory, but not all is celebratory in Baltimore. Despite their playoff heroics, this was only a 10-6 team, and after losing some key weapons on both sides of the ball, the Ravens seem poised for a rather disappointing season. A fitting comparison is Shannon Bates, the woman dumped at the altar and forced to spend an awkward Honeymoon with Mom.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers – A Family Torn Apart
Last season, the Steelers were A Family Torn Apart, taking their first non-winning record under Mike Tomlin. Facing the loss of receiver Mike Wallace and a questionable offensive line, the Steelers undoubtedly empathize with the plight of Neil Patrick Harris’ Brian Hannigan, a teenage boy who comes home to find his parents brutally murdered. Needless to say, I think the similarities speak for themselves.
4. Cleveland Browns – Dying to Belong
Like a sorority pledge so desperate for acceptance that she falls to her death from a clock tower during a hazing prank, the Browns are Dying to Belong among the NFL’s playoff contenders. With a new coaching staff, RB Trent Richardson, and a talented, young defense, they may finally get their wish. Unfortunately, they play in one of the league’s toughest divisions.
1. Houston Texans – The Last Trimester
The Texans have been primed for a Super Bowl run for the past few seasons, but the team has lacked the poise or fortitude for a deep playoff run – in a sense, they’ve felt much like the Smythes, a family whose newly adopted child is taken away from them almost as soon as they’ve brought him home. Here’s hoping their new relationship with Ed Reed goes better than the Smythe’s second adoption attempt, in which their maniacally insane surrogate mom throws herself down a flight of stairs.
2. Indianapolis Colts – When Andrew Came Home
Get it? When Andrew Came Home? Like Andrew Luck? See what I did there? Desperate, I know – desperate just like When Andrew Came Home’s Gail, searching for the son who disappeared 5 years ago. Luck is great, but he’ll probably be feeling pretty desperate to put some points up on the board, as the Colts defense isn’t too pretty.
3. Tennessee Titans – A Cry in the Night
Chris Johnson is poised for a comeback year behind an improved O-line, but the rest of this team will find itself as overmatched as Jenny, the divorced mother whose new husband is a mentally unstable lunatic who dresses up in his dead mother’s cape. So, uh, good luck with that, Titans fans.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Baby Monitor: Sound of Fear
Just like Baby Monitor: Sound of Fear, the 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars can be counted on to send plenty of distraught viewers searching for the remote control.
1. Denver Broncos – Crowned and Dangerous
Coming off a 13-win season led by a rejuvenated Peyton Manning, and bolstered by the addition of Wes Welker, many are already crowning the Broncos AFC West champs and likely bets for the Super Bowl. One can’t help but compare them to the stunning turn by Yasmine Bleeth as Danielle Stevens, the triumphant Beauty Pageant Queen who murders a rival competitor.
2. Kansas City Chiefs – Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story
Despite the additions of new coach Andy Reid and new QB Alex Smith, I’m not sure the revamped Chiefs have positioned themselves as the NFL’s Harvard elite. But they were definitely homeless last year with their 2-14 record, so you can see the parallels to Liz Murray, the child of drug-addicted, HIV-infected parents, who made it all the way to the Ivy League.
3. San Diego Chargers – Almost Dead
Committed to a diminished Philip Rivers and saddled with both a shaky O-line and a depleted receiving group, the Chargers enter this season with little to look forward to. They can only hope to fare better than Shannen Doherty in Almost Dead, the thriller in which she plays a psychologist haunted by her dead mother’s ghost. Maybe the Chargers will be haunted by Norv Turner in a nightgown, or something.
4. Oakland Raiders – As Good as Dead
Whether your starting quarterback battle is between Terrelle Pryor and Matt Flynn, or you’re declared legally deceased after a medical insurance scam goes awry, you can consider yourself As Good As Dead.
1. New York Giants – An Amish Murder
Just like Neve Campbell’s Katie Burkholder overcame the brutal Slaughterhouse Murders that tormented her and the Amish community she grew up in, the New York Giants are looking to overcome a traumatic 7-9 season. The defense is mediocre at best, but the Giants seem to rise when the chips are against them – don’t be surprised if they return to the playoffs, surprising the NFL the way Burkholder shocked her Amish town by returning as their Chief of Police.
2. Washington Redskins – A Mother’s Fight For Justice
Returning from an ACL tear that many blamed on Mike Shanahan, Redskins star Robert Griffin III is embattled in what many NFL insiders are describing as A Mother’s Fight for Justice. Just like Terry Stone’s fight against the drunk driver who critically injured her son, RGIII’s crusade will be challenging and, hopefully, redemptive.
3. Philadelphia Eagles – A Colder Kind of Death
It’s hard to picture the Philadelphia sidelines without the rotund presence of longtime coach Andy Reid, but the mustachioed guru finally wore out his welcome in Philly. New coach Chip Kelly hopes to revitalize the team, but Michael Vick is a constant injury risk and the defense has glaring issues. Much like amateur detective Wendy Crewson investigating the murder of her husband, Kelly looks like he has his work cut out for him.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Every Mother’s Worst Fear
Jerry Jones, an overprotective mother if there ever was one, just wants one solid playoff run for Tony Romo & Co. Unfortunately, his hopes will once again be hijacked, much like Connie’s daughter Martha was kidnapped by a pedophile after a doomed visit to a chat room.
1. Green Bay Packers – Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life
Even after that Discount Double Check ad campaign, people still love Aaron Rodgers, and most experts consider him the best QB in football. But don’t let his talent seduce you into betting on this Packers team the way that popular high school student Justin Peterson allowed internet pornography to seduce him into a life of shame and depravity. Justin refused to heed his mother’s warnings about the dangers of porn addiction when she discovered his copy of Virgin Vaginas, but I hope you heed my warnings about the Pack: they’ll win the division, but don’t count on a deep playoff run. Their defense is iffy and their plan to improve the running game is compromised after the loss of crucial offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga for the season to injury.
2. Chicago Bears – She Woke Up Pregnant
With a new coach whose greatest success came in the lowly CFL, an inconsistent QB in Jay Cutler, and the retirement of franchise stalwart Brian Urlacher, the Bears face a lot of uncertainty this season. I expect they’ll be one of the last teams on the outside looking in of the playoff race. The TV movie in question, about a woman who is impregnated when her dentist rapes her while she’s sedated, doesn’t bare much similarity to any NFL team I can think of, but the title was too outrageous to pass up.
3. Detroit Lions – My Stepson, My Lover
Under Jim Schwartz, the Lions have always seemed a little chaotic – you’re never really sure whether they’re going to go 11-5 or 5-11, whether Matthew Stafford is one of the league’s top QBs or just a dude fortunate enough to throw the ball 50+ times a game, and whether Ndamukong Suh is going to bring a loaded weapon onto the field or not. It’s almost as if anything is possible – just like in the tense Lifetime thriller, My Stepson, My Lover.
4. Minnesota Vikings – Baby for Sale
After an unexpected 10-win season and Adrian Peterson’s astonishing comeback, the Vikings should be filled with the warmth and joy usually reserved for first-time parents. But doubts around QB Christian Ponder, a weak secondary, and the sensation that last year was a fluke has left them feeling more like the Johnsons, the Baby for Sale couple that discovers the infant they’re hoping to adopt is part of an illegal baby-auctioneering ring. Like, a ring where they illegally auction babies, not an illegal auctioneering ring run by babies. That should totally be a movie, though.
1. Atlanta Falcons – The Party Never Stops: Diary of a Binge-Drinker
After another 13-win season and a MVP caliber year from Matt Ryan, as well the additions of RB Steven Jackson and DE Osi Umenyiora, the Falcons franchise seems to be living out a Party That Never Stops. But that party hides a darker truth, just like college freshmen Jesse Brenner’s supposedly fun lifestyle hides a shameful reality of death and wet t-shirt contests – the Falcons have been perennial playoff disappointments under coach Mike Smith. Will this be the year they finally sober up and stop embarrassing themselves at frat parties?
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – A Decent Proposal
Already in place: talented-if-inconsistent QB Josh Freeman, dynamic young RB Doug Martin, and a defense that can stop the run. Added to this year’s roster is CB Darrelle Revis, the best in the league when healthy, to help shore up a weak secondary. If you ask me, that’s A Decent Proposal.
3. New Orleans Saints – Held Hostage
Although formerly suspended coach Sean Payton has returned, the Saints defense will continue to hold a talented offense hostage. Last year’s unit gave up the most yards in NFL history, and hiring hirsute madman Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator won’t be enough to make them respectable. Drew Brees will surely feel like Michelle, the single mother who according to Wikipedia’s Held Hostage plot description, “…is kidnapped by three masked men and held hostage until she is forced to rob a bank which is the only option she has to save her only child’s life while they are both wired to explode.”
4. Carolina Panthers – And Baby Will Fall
Last season was a disappointment for young QB Cam Newton, although the Panthers did win their last 4 games. But the secondary is brutal and the running game beyond Cam is questionable, meaning their best comparison is with the Lifetime movie that owns what is perhaps IMDB’s least enticing plot summary: “Expectant parents become prime suspects in the disappearance of a pregnant woman who was last seen at their garage sale.” And Baby Will Fall – the TV movie that does for garage sales what Jaws did for the ocean!
1. Seattle Seahawks – And Then There Was One
Behind revelatory QB Russell Wilson, a dynamite defense, and the league’s strongest homefield advantage, the Seahawks are my preseason pick for Super Bowl champs. This comparison rests solely on the film’s title, which seems celebratory, and not its content, which is about a family that gets AIDs.
2. San Francisco 49ers – Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story
Last season, the 49ers were Almost Golden, earning an 11-4-1 record and losing the Super Bowl to the arguably inferior Ravens. Much like Jessica Savitch, one of America’s first female news anchors, their rise to the top has been rapid – hopefully they don’t emulate her untimely death.
3. St. Louis Rams – Hostile Makeover
Hello, Pro Bowl tackle Jake Long. Goodbye WR Danny Amendola and long-time RB Steven Jackson. The Rams underwent a Hostile Makeover in the offseason, but QB Sam Bradford can turn them into dark horse playoff contenders if he can stay healthy and continue to improve, much like fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian developed her skills as an amateur sleuth while investigating the murder of a supermodel.
4. Arizona Cardinals – A Child’s Cry for Help
Acquiring Carson Palmer and Rashard Mendenhall? Sorry, but those moves are nothing more than A Child’s Cry for Help.