NFL Playoff Picture: 3 Contenders Sure to Miss Postseason

Alex Hall@@AlexKHallCorrespondent IIIDecember 21, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 16:  Wide receiver Santana Moss #89 of the Washington Redskins fumbles the ball as he is hit by defensive lineman Jabaal Sheard #97 of the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

With the NFL postseason just two weeks away, all teams still mathematically in the playoff hunt are hoping to claw their way into the tournament.

The AFC and NFC wild card positions are still very much a gray area, but there are three teams that are sure to fail at postseason contention. Here are three teams that will fall just short of making the 2012 NFL playoffs.


Washington Redskins

The Redskins will have no problem defeating the lowly Philadelphia Eagles in Week 16, it's the next week that will be the dagger to their playoff dreams. 

If the Cowboys and Redskins both win against the Saints and Philadelphia respectively, the two rivals will face off for the NFC East title in Week 17. Knowing the NFC East and the drama this division is regarded for, expect that scenario to come to fruition.

While RGIII and co. did defeat the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day this season, the Cowboys have proven to be quite the December team this season. Dallas has won three straight games and will make it four straight this Sunday at home against New Orleans.

With that kind of recent success and the quality play both sides have been playing for the Cowboys, it will just prove too much for this inexperienced 'Skins team.

Washington would have to rely on a rookie running back, quarterback and a wide receiver in his first year with the team to keep up with a Dallas offense that's finally on the right track. The Redskins just don't have enough of a track record to expect a win and subsequent playoff berth in that scenario.


Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings have received plenty of attention thanks to Adrian Peterson flirting with Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record. Unfortunately for the team, AD just isn't enough to get this team to the playoffs.

Minnesota has to secure a wild card to make the playoffs, and to do so, the team will need to beat AFC South-leading Houston and arch rival Green Bay. Those are two opponents that will be favored to beat the Vikes, and for good reason.

Both the Texans and Packers possess offenses that are just more explosive than the one led by one man in Minnesota. Arian Foster, Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson's unit is one that is more proven than Peterson, Christian Ponder and Kyle Rudolph.

The Vikings have shown this season that they are a few building blocks away from being an NFC postseason contender, but the schedule will be this team's undoing in 2012.


Pittsburgh Steelers

With the losses to Dallas and San Diego in back-to-back weeks, there's no real reason to believe the Steelers can get into the postseason.

Head coach Mike Tomlin's crew would have to beat two division opponents in a row to even have a chance of getting in. Those two teams are Cincinnati and Cleveland, who both have very real chances of beating a Steelers team starting a still-rusty Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.

When looking at the issues that Pittsburgh has had running the football, paired with the fact Cincinnati could knock its rival out in Week 16, it's hard to have faith in the Steelers.

Uncharacteristically, the Pittsburgh offense is ranked just No. 26 in the running game and only beat the Bengals by a touchdown back in Week 7.

It's been a long time since that mid-season meeting between these two clubs, and not even the home-field advantage of Heinz Field will be enough to help the Steelers. They are getting eliminated from playoff contention this week, and could even end up losing to Cleveland in Week 17.