The Most Dangerous Trap Games on the 2012 NFL Schedule
Trap Game: A game that pits a heavily favored team against an inferior opponent with outside circumstances that may effect the expected outcome.
Above is an attempt to define a term that is all too often mentioned around the NFL when good teams wind up losing in bad games. Tough travel situations, poor historical performance in certain locales and heightened emotion for one team are all some of the "usual suspects" when it comes to predicting these games.
2012 has no shortage of intrigue and backstory off the field that can add fuel to these games—not to mention the promise that some underperforming teams from last season could be moving up.
Here are some of the most dangerous trap games for teams to beware of in 2012.
Week 3: Bengals vs. Redskins
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
The Cincinnati Bengals are looking to come out and prove that they are ready to take over the AFC North, and they will have gotten their chance to send a message in Week 1 against the Ravens. It's conceivable that the Bengals could be 2-0—or at worst 1-1—coming into Week 3.
The Redskins, on the other hand, have an interesting road to Week 3 facing the Saints and Rams, who are playing with a different coaching staff from the year before.
The Redskins were not a terrible team last year, but they are certainly a team that the Bengals should be beating on their path back to the playoffs.
The reason this will be a tough test for the Bengals is due to the fact that this will be the official regular season debut of the RGIII led Redskins on their home turf.
Week 3: Packers vs. Seahawks
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Packers will take their show on the road after a tough one-two punch to start the season against the 49ers and Bears at Lambeau Field.
The Seahawks, on the other hand, have got a player in Matt Flynn who will be eager to light up his old teammates in one of the tougher home field advantages in the NFL at Seattle.
If the Seahawks can pound Marshawn Lynch and exploit the Packer defense for a lot of yardage, it's very possible that the Packers could leave the Northwest with a loss.
Week 4: Browns vs. Ravens
Jason Miller/Getty Images
The advent of the full slate of Thursday Night Football on NFL Network in 2012 will make for more short turnarounds than usual in an NFL season.
The Ravens may be one of the first teams to fall victim to a quick week with little time to prepare for their opponent.
In Week 4, the Browns will head to Baltimore with a brand new offensive attack to unleash on the Ravens, and with a new defensive coordinator on board in Baltimore there could be a surprise in store for the AFC juggernauts.
Week 7: Seahawks vs. 49ers
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The Thursday night short schedule could doom another team in Week 7 when the 49ers will take on their divisional opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, after a tough game the Sunday before.
The game prior to that is against none other than the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, who stole the Niners' ticket to the Super Bowl last year.
Jim Harbaugh will certainly have his team jacked up to seek revenge the week before, and one has to wonder how much emotion will be left to defend the home field against the young, and improving Seahawks.
Week 9: Lions vs. Jaguars
Rick Dole/Getty Images
The Detroit Lions will face a tough stretch near the beginning of the season starting in Week 2 when they play six out of their next eight games on the road.
The second to last game of the stretch is against new coach Mike Mularkey and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Whether Mularkey turns the team around quickly or not, the arduous task of so many road games could take its toll on the Lions.
Week 10: Broncos vs. Panthers
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
The Denver Broncos, led by Peyton Manning, will be entering the season with high hopes, but Week 10 has the Broncos falling into one of the deadliest circumstances in the NFL: traveling from a western time zone to the East Coast for the early game.
Even though the Panthers are a team that seem to be on the upswing, they are still underdogs to the new look Broncos; good thing they have two major things going for them.
One, the Broncos are coming to Carolina and two, they are being forced to play the early game. Those two things could spell disaster for Denver.
Week 12: Steelers vs. Browns
Jason Miller/Getty Images
The aging Pittsburgh Steelers will be heading into the home stretch of the NFL season, and the week prior to this game the Steelers will have their first meeting with perennial powerhouse Baltimore.
As if playing Baltimore the week prior wasn't enough, the Steelers will be looking to Week 13 where they play the Ravens again with huge playoff implications on the line.
Sandwiched in between is a stop in Cleveland against the Browns who will be sporting a brand new look, and most likely a new quarterback and running back heading the charge.
It could be very likely that the Steelers get caught looking back, and ahead at the same time, which makes it easy to see how the Steelers could get caught ignoring the present.
Week 13: Patriots vs. Dolphins
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
Taking a trip down to Miami has historically been about a 50/50 proposition for the Patriots in the Tom Brady era, which is surprising considering the stark difference in successful seasons between the two for the past 10 years.
New England has got one of the easiest schedules in the NFL this season, and they could be coasting by this point this season.
Conversely, the Dolphins could be looking for a defining win to turn the fortunes of their franchise with a new coach—and possibly quarterback—in place.
Week 15: Colts vs. Texans
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
The Houston Texans are one of the clear favorites to come out of the AFC based on the impressive campaign they put together, despite major setbacks, last season.
In Week 14 they will face a huge test on national television for Monday Night Football in Foxboro against the reigning AFC Champion New England Patriots.
Whether they are blinded by the joy of victory, or agony of defeat, they have the NFL's newest "it" player coming to town for the first time in Andrew Luck, and he would love to start a streak of "Manning-like" dominance over the Texans.
The Colts will have had plenty of time to mold the young quarterback who could be coming into his own at this point in the season.
The Texans will need to be careful, because if Luck tastes victory this week, he will be hungry for more in Week 17 when the Texans may really have a lot on the line heading to Indy.
Week 17: Jets vs. Bills
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Why might this be a trap game?
Well, it would require a lot of things to fall into place, but just imagine if the Jets season hits the skids and the fans are clamoring for something to appease them to help salvage some excitement for next season.
Enter Tim Tebow at starting quarterback for the New York Jets.
The Buffalo Bills could very well be in contention for an AFC playoff spot, and looking to defend home field to do so.
Certainly, the last thing that Buffalo would like to see is Tim Tebow possibly making his first attempt at resurrecting "Tebow TIme" as a Jet, and avenging the embarrassing performance he had as a Broncos quarterback in Buffalo last season.
Come on...it could happen!