Playoff spots are on the line in Week 16.
Wins are hard to come by in the NFL, and that's even more true as the regular season winds down. With temperatures dropping and competition heating up, it's inevitable that a few teams will crumble under the pressure.
Although they've had solid seasons thus far, you can expect the following teams to hurt their own playoff chances this week.
Minnesota Vikings (8-6)
The Vikings are one of five NFC teams sitting at 8-6. Unfortunately, they have the toughest final schedule of them all.
Minnesota travels to face the 12-2 Houston Texans this Sunday, then hosts Aaron Rodgers and the 10-4 Green Bay Packers in Week 17. Despite Adrian Peterson's recent dominance, I'd be surprised if the Vikings won either game.
Their offense is simply too one-dimensional. They rank last in the NFL in passing yards per game (168.1) and only three teams have fewer touchdowns through the air. While their lack of an aerial attack hasn't hurt them against teams like Chicago and St. Louis, they won't be as lucky in Houston.
The Texans' defense is one of the best in the league, and since they can clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win, they will be going all-out on Sunday. Peterson and the Vikings have been a great story, but their run will come to an end this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)
The Steelers have struggled the last two weeks, losing by 10 to the Chargers in Week 14 before choking down the stretch against Dallas last Sunday.
Next up is a date with Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and the Cincinnati Bengals. Traditionally, the Steelers have had their way with Cincy, winning their last four games against them and 18 of their last 24. However, I'm expecting their success against the Bengals to end this weekend.
Pittsburgh's running game is virtually nonexistent (71 yards per game the last four weeks), and Ben Roethlisberger is making poor decisions in crucial moments.
The Steelers will also struggle to contain A.J. Green, who has scored in each of his three games against Pittsburgh. It will be another close one, but look for Cincy to finally take down their AFC North rivals.
New Orleans Saints (6-8)
It would take a minor miracle, but the Saints still have a slim chance to make the playoffs. Unfortunately for fans in the Bayou, we won't be able to say that next week.
This Sunday the Saints travel to take on the red-hot Cowboys, who have won three straight and five of their last six. Tony Romo has led Dallas to three consecutive comeback victories, and the team seems to have gained some mental toughness in the process.
The Cowboys' offense should also feast on New Orleans' porous defense, which ranks 31st in the league in against the pass (287 yards per game) and the rush (146.3).
Look for Romo and his army of explosive offfensive players—DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Dwayne Harris, etc.—to overwhelm the Saints and end any hope of postseason action in New Orleans.
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