Few things are more important for an NFL team than being able to bounce back after a loss. As the Arizona Cardinals have illustrated by losing nine of 10 after a 4-0 start, things can get out of control if a losing skid isn't ended quickly.
Add in the fact a lot of teams don't have much margin for error heading into Week 16, and there will be no shortage of pressure around the league. Whether it's a team looking to improve its seeding or simply earn a playoff berth, there's plenty on the line.
Knowing that, let's take a look at three teams that suffered losses in Week 15, but will get back on track with wins on Sunday.
The Steelers couldn't hold a late lead against the Dallas Cowboys and then a Ben Roethlisberger turnover in overtime sealed their fate. Now they are a game behind the Cincinnati Bengals for the final AFC wild-card spot ahead of a Week 16 showdown.
When the two teams faced earlier in the season the Steelers were able to overcome a myriad of injuries to escape Cincinnati with a victory. They need to match that result on Sunday or their hopes of making the playoffs will vanish.
Even though the Bengals hold the edge right now, only one of their eights wins came against a quality opponent. The Steelers have four, if you count Cincinnati. They are the better overall team and get to play at home—enough to put them back in the driver's seat.
Which of these teams will score the biggest bounce-back win?
New England Patriots
Even though the Patriots couldn't complete one of the most outstanding comebacks in NFL history against the San Francisco 49ers Monday night, the game illustrated exactly how dangerous Tom Brady and Co. are. They can never be counted out.
New England scored 28 points in less than 15 game minutes against a defense that was giving up barely over 14 points per game. There aren't many other offenses—if any—capable of that type of explosion to completely change the game.
Alas, the Patriots still lost and now need some help to get a first-round bye. All they can do is take care of their own business, starting against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars next weekend, and hope the Denver Broncos slip up. They'll cover their end of the bargain, at least.
The Colts can punch their ticket to the postseason with a win over the Kansas City Chiefs. It was expected to be a rebuilding year with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, but Indianapolis has taken full advantage of a weak schedule.
While the Colts have struggled against elite competition, they are still a team that would be a tricky test in the playoffs. Along with Luck and the always reliable Reggie Wayne, Vick Ballard has emerged as a threat on the ground and T.Y. Hilton gives them a big-play threat.
Those offensive stars will be enough to get the Colts back in the win column in Week 16. The Chiefs simply don't have enough firepower to keep pace in a shootout. Finding a way to improve on defense over the final few weeks is the key.