NFL Predictions Week 16: Teams That Will Crack Under Pressure in Must-Win Games

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 16:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants walks off the field after their 34-0 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on December 16, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For the first time in the history of the NFL, 2012 could be the season when Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers all fail to play in the playoffs.

Crazy, isn't it?

Since the trio was drafted in 2004, at least one of them has been playing meaningful football after the regular season comes to an end.

In 2012, Rivers and his San Diego Chargers are already eliminated, while Manning's Giants and Big Ben's Steelers are far from assured of a place in the postseason.

Both quarterbacks and their squads are faced with must-win games in Week 16, and as Phish sings in "AC/DC Bag," it's time for the class of 2004 to get down to the nitty gritty:

"Time to put your money where your mouth is. Put them in a field and let them fight it out."

Unfortunately for Roethlisberger and Manning, a field is exactly where they are headed in Week 16—and things aren't going to go well.


Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Cincinnati Bengals)

You wouldn't have known that the Steelers had the top-rated pass defense in the NFL after watching the team's Week 16 game against the Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo threw for 341 yards and a pair of touchdowns and the Steelers defenders looked as if they had never covered NFL receivers before.

Against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 16, things don't figure to get much better.

Sure, the Steelers beat the Bengals back in Week 8, but Pittsburgh, losers of four of its past five games, is not the same team that it was back then.

Since these two division rivals last met, Cincinnati has gone 5-2, losing those two games by a combined total of nine points.

Cincinnati has been playing far better football than the Steelers have and while Andy Dalton hasn't been putting up eye-popping numbers under center for the Bengals, he's protecting the ball and leading the Bengals to victory.


New York Giants (vs. Baltimore Ravens)

Any Giants fan who is being honest saw this game on the schedule at the beginning of the season and marked it as a loss.

It's just one of those games that you had a feeling the Giants would struggle to win, and with the way that the team played in Atlanta in Week 15, putting up a struggle would be a welcome sight.

Atlanta dominated the defending Super Bowl champions in every facet of the game, making Eli Manning look clueless and the defense looking like it had never stepped foot on a NFL field before.

Had the Giants shown any signs of life in Week 15, I'd say that they were destined to win out and make the playoffs.

But this looks like a defeated, deflated group, one that doesn't deserve to defend its Super Bowl championship.


Chicago Bears (vs. Arizona Cardinals)

For as bad as the Cardinals' offense is, its defense has actually been fairly decent.

Chicago's entire offense is wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

Literally, the Bears' entire offense is Brandon Marshall, as noted by ESPN's Stats and Info (via Twitter):

Brandon Marshall entered Sunday with 105 more targets than the next Bear, biggest disparity in NFL. Cutler's 1st pass today? Marshall #often

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 16, 2012

That's not good seeing as how Arizona has the fourth-ranked pass defense in the NFL.

With no running game to speak of and an offensive line that is doing it's very best to get Jay Cutler injured—again—there is no reason to expect Chicago to come up with a big win against inferior competition.


My tweets come through under pressure.