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NFL Playoff Predictions 2012-13: Overrated Teams That Will Be Exposed

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NFL Playoff Predictions 2012-13: Overrated Teams That Will Be Exposed
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As Week 15 of the NFL season wraps up, teams continue to separate themselves from the pack.

Teams out of playoff contention may have their eyes on the future, but teams already in the playoffs are focused solely on seeding. However, as evidenced by recent history—most recently last year's Green Bay Packers—the top seeds aren't always the best teams come January.

The No. 1 seed in both the AFC and the NFC seem to be all but set in stone. Atlanta and Houston each sit at 12-2 and control their own destiny to earn home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

But will the Falcons and Texans perform up to the level of their seeding? Let's take a look at three overrated teams that could be exposed in the playoffs.

 

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1. Houston Texans

The Texans are 12-2. They're a good football team.

However, when going against elite quarterbacks and top-tier teams, Houston has been exposed. There are great players all over that Texans defense, but the secondary is simply not up to par.

In Week 6 against the Green Bay Packers, Houston allowed Aaron Rodgers to throw six touchdowns. The Packers hung 42 points on the Texans.

Then, in Week 14 against the New England Patriots, the Texans were shredded by Tom Brady. New England dominated Houston 42-14. One team looked like a potential No. 1 seed, and the other did not.

And sure, the Texans have beaten the likes of Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco and Andrew Luck this year. But Manning wasn't yet up to 100 percent at the time—the Texans will need to conjure up some magic in the secondary if they're going to stop Manning again.

The road to the Super Bowl in the AFC may go through Houston, but contenders like New England and Denver probably won't be intimidated. Not by that Texans secondary.

 

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2. Baltimore Ravens

After starting the season 9-2, the Ravens have now lost three in a row and are no longer a guarantee to win the AFC North.

Baltimore is struggling on both sides of the ball. Jim Caldwell has taken over control of the offense, but the team continues to neglect the presence of Ray Rice on third down.

Even when the Ravens were 9-2, five of those wins were by three or fewer points. Quite simply, Baltimore is not an elite team. They're a playoff-caliber team, but that's it.

Ray Lewis is thought to be on the verge of returning to the lineup, but Baltimore's run defense struggled mightily with Lewis on the field earlier this season. The team's biggest loss was cornerback Lardarius Webb, who will miss the remainder of the season.

Without Webb in the fold, the Ravens lack a true shutdown cornerback, which is a huge weapon in the playoffs when playing against some of the league's better wide receivers.

Despite being in a slump right now, the Ravens still sit in the driver's seat to win the division and earn a home playoff game. But it could be one-and-done for Baltimore in the playoffs.

 

Chris Graythen/Getty Images
3. Atlanta Falcons

Yes, I know the Falcons beat the Giants this weekend. And yes, I know it wasn't even close.

However, I remain skeptical as to whether or not this team is built for a deep playoff run. With teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers and—gulp—the New York Giants in the mix, the NFC is loaded with championship-caliber teams.

And I'm just not sold on the Falcons.

Atlanta has played the easiest schedule in the NFL, and still, they're very fortunate to be 12-2. Four of their 12 wins have come by four points or fewer against Carolina, Oakland, Arizona and Tampa Bay. None of these teams will be in the playoffs.

Matt Ryan has enjoyed the best season of his career, and he's surrounded by offensive talent. The pieces are in place for a playoff win, but this team simply hasn't done it yet.

Color me skeptical.

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