Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc./Associated Press
The story of the New York Jets locker room. Antonio Cromartie is undercover as a star player who leads a group of anonymous players in guaranteeing playoffs and criticizing backup quarterbacks. Ah, but Cromartie is actually working for the New England Patriots, attempting to crush the Jets' season under the weight of controversy. After a series of injuries and subpar play, it all falls apart when Mark Sanchez takes off his mask at the end of the movie and reveals he's actually Neil O'Donnell.
Wardour Films/Associated Press
Philip Rivers and a band of teammates gather at a safe house following another dismal Sunday performance. Hot on their trail is Dan Fouts, bent on cleaning out the front office and skill position players to help restore life and respect to his former team. Rivers injures his arm during a fight, but no one can actually prove he's hurt. The movie ends with the entire team being waived and a tilt-up of the new head coach's feet as he walks through the locker room. We freeze on the shot of his face, a smiling Marty Schottenheimer.
Universal Pictures/Associated Press
Troy Polamalu stars as a Hall of Fame defensive player sidelined by a mysterious calf injury that for some reason doesn't get any better. He flies to Germany to try to find a cure for his ailment but none can be found. He's joined in his journey by trusty sidekick Ben Roethlisberger, who, needing a sidekick of his own, calls upon Byron Leftwich. Leftwich doesn't like being the third wheel, so he enlists the help of Antonio Brown who then reaches out to all three Steelers running backs to complete the posse. We find out in the final reel that all of the injuries are a diabolical plan by someone so desperate to get back into the NFL, he's enacted this strategy to decimate the Steelers' ranks so much they have no choice but to sign him. The final, tension-filled scene is Charlie Batch warming up before a game with the mastermind, a smiling Plaxico Burress.
RKO Radio Pictures/Associated Press
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
A bit of an off-beat choice, Alex Smith is the man in the title role who is never sure of his status as the 49ers' starting quarterback. Enter Colin Kaepernick, a suave, younger, and more athletic player (OK, I really don't know about suave but it sounded good) who can potentially take it all away from Alex. Jim Harbaugh is the master puppeteer, pulling the strings. His every sentence has a double meaning to it, and you have no idea what he means. Even the ending is a mystery, because you're never quite sure what's going on in the movie.
Universal Pictures/Associated Press
Darren McFadden, laid up with his latest injury, becomes obsessed with his neighbor across the way, who begins to do things McFadden can't believe: stay healthy, run productively and even catch the football out of the backfield. Eventually, the neighbor, Marcel Reece, gets wise to McFadden and goes to his apartment to confront him. McFadden keeps Reece at bay by taking photo after photo of him, temporarily blinding him. But eventually, instead of a fight, the two come to an agreement. Reece gets to keep the starting RB job as long as he autographs the pictures McFadden took so can sell them and make money.
Universal Pictures/US Presswire
We sort of had to have this one, right? In a small Northern California town, birds of all types converge to battle. The Ravens fly in but immediately are beaten back easily because their lead quarterback bird doesn't do well away from home. The Seahawks succeed early in this conflict, thanks to the help of some replacement fowl, as do the Cardinals, who stay in the thick of things despite the disappearance of their important wide receiver bird. The Eagles, well, they wind up only hurting themselves. What about the Falcons? The final few seconds of Arthur Blank tiptoeing gently through the suddenly docile winged creatures stands for how precariously the team is perched atop the NFC.
North By Northwest
It takes place during an entire Monday Night Football game between the Packers and the Seahawks. Replacement officials have stepped in for the real ones, and they make an extremely bad call that ignites controversy across the globe. Wait, that was real? What if I told you Pete Carroll picks up Golden Tate on Mount Rushmore at the end and then they're laughing on the train ride back to the team hotel? Still believable?
20th Century Fox/Associated Press
Tony Romo, Andy Reid and Mike Shanahan find themselves adrift in a boat after their seasons have all been sunk due to underachievement. They are unaware that the person responsible for this is on the boat himself. Each of them argues their case for staying in their current job. Romo talks about how he makes too much money to be cut, Reid states how he promises to run LeSean McCoy more, and Shanahan vows to stick with Alfred Morris if it'll make the fans happy. Suddenly, a hole springs up in the bottom of the boat as all the men sink underwater. Swimming to the surface is an unknown diver who patches the hole, climbs into the boat, and takes off his mask and breathing tube. Jerry Jones then rows safely to shore into the waiting arms of Robert Griffin III.
A departure from the original script, the movie simply goes through all the psycho things people said during the pre-season that haven't come to pass like Reggie Bush leading the NFL in rushing, Peyton Manning being washed up, Adrian Peterson's ineffectiveness and ignoring the possibility of Cam Newton's sophomore slump.
More Photo Essays:
- Mind-blowing stats for Championship Sunday
- Next Gen Stats: Championship Sunday
- Best of 2016 NFL cheerleaders: Divisional Round
- Top photos from the San Diego Chargers
- Top 10 prospects playing in 2017 East-West Shrine Game
- Mind-blowing stats for the Divisional Round
- Mind-blowing stats: Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott
- NFL's Best Cleats of Wild Card Weekend
- Patriots, Yankees, Lakers among best sports dynasties