There are overhyped teams in the NFL. There always have been, and there always will be. There are playoff teams that everyone thinks are great but will be out of them before we get a chance to say “Holy Marty Schottenheimer, Batman“! So, what teams are getting bitten by the early-exit bug this year?
1. Arizona Cardinals (Current record: 11-4)
The Arizona Cardinals once had a three-game lead on the Seahawks in the NFC West, but now are struggling to win that division and get a Wild Card berth. The problem is the quarterbacks: they can’t stop getting hurt, and Arizona is being forced to rely on rookie Ryan Lindley after both Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton got hurt. After Week 10, the Cards’ highest point total was 18 against Atlanta, with others totaling 17, 14, 12, and a combined 9 in two games against the Seahawks. Even if you have a good defense, you’ve got to be the 2000 Ravens to pull something off like that. I don’t see the Cardinals winning any playoff game against anyone, not even the NFC South.
Prediction: The Cardinals will lose the NFC Wild Card game.
To: Whoever is in it.
2. Detroit Lions (Current record: 11-4)
Okay, I might get heat from this. The Lions have a bloodthirsty defense and a hot-and-cold offense that everyone thinks is wonderful because they’ve got Megatron. But boy, when the offense struggles, it does, big time. I’ve seen a lot of games where the Lions have completely shut off on offense and have to rely on the defense to bail them out. Sure, Matthew Stafford might get hot during a game or two like Thanksgiving, but he’s a bum. Flat out. He’s not a playoff-winning quarterback, and I’m absolutely positive the Lions aren’t getting anywhere this year.
Prediction/To: The Lions will lose to the first playoff opponent they face, unless it’s someone from the NFC South.
3. Denver Broncos (Current record: 11-4)
This’ll get me even more complaints than Detroit. I know the Broncos are a good team, I know they’re averaging 29.0 points-per-game, I know they have Peyton Manning and I know they’re “elite” and “dominant” to every imbecilic fan who thinks those two words define everything a team is about. Peyton Manning is struggling. I’m not talking about struggling by his standards, I’m talking about ugly performances that will lose a game under any circumstances, like Monday Night in Cincinnati. Against the Bills, Manning threw no touchdowns to two interceptions, and against Cincy, he threw no touchdowns to four interceptions. His arm is getting weaker and weaker like Brett Favre’s in 2008 with the Jets, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Peyton comes out at the end of the season revealing an arm injury and/or his retirement.
Prediction: The Broncos will lose to the winner of the Wild Card in the Divisional Round after clinching a bye.
To: Whoever wins the game that plays the No.2 seed, so Pittsburgh/San Diego/Indianapolis/Baltimore\
4. Whatever sad sack NFC South team decides to crawl out from the rubble
Okay, so this is a special circumstance thing. Whoever wins Sunday’s game (Atlanta vs. Carolina) will get into the playoffs and host a Wild Card game as a division leader, which is just pathetic because none of the teams are over .500. The Panthers are just crap while the Falcons match a very good offense with one of the league’s worst defenses. Whoever goes into the playoffs will have to play really, really well to stick around with a legitimately good team.
Prediction: The Panthers/Falcons will lose the Wild Card game.
To: Anyone besides the Cardinals, whom they will beat if they face.