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4 NFL Teams Backing into the Playoffs with Major Concerns

Nick KostoraContributor IIIDecember 23, 2012

4 NFL Teams Backing into the Playoffs with Major Concerns

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    Not every NFL team is cruising towards the postseason without any concerns or worries. In fact, many squads find themselves in just the opposite predicament.

    There are four teams that are backing their way towards the playoffs and have major concerns as they loom ever closer.

    Have the Dallas Cowboys reverted to old, failing ways? Is a win over the New York Giants enough to fix the backwards momentum of the Baltimore Ravens?

    These are just a few of many legitimate questions surrounding playoff contenders.

    Let's examine four teams backing into the playoffs with major concerns. 

4. Baltimore Ravens

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    Current Record: 10-5

     

    What started as a 9-2 season has quickly spiraled downward to 10-5.

    Baltimore has tremendous talent, but the loss of Ray Lewis has clearly affected this team. Consecutive losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos showcased defensive deficiencies.

    QB Joe Flacco has been inconsistent at best and at time offensive coordinator has strayed too far away from relying on RB Ray Rice.

    The Ravens are still capable of being an elite team, and a win over the New York Giants is a step in the right direction, but there are major concerns in Baltimore.

    Can Flacco continue to play at the level he displayed in Week 16, or will he be mediocre when the lights shine brightest?

    This is the type of concern plaguing the Ravens.

3. Houston Texans

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    Current Record: 12-3

     

    It is rare that you hear of a 12-3 team backing into the playoffs, but such is the case with the Houston Texans.

    Houston has lost two of its last three games, both in embarrassing fashion. First, the New England Patriots beat them 42-14 on Monday Night Football in Week 14 and then the Minnesota Vikings won by a score of 23-6 in Week 16.

    This is not the way to build momentum heading into the postseason, especially with a defense as banged-up as the one Houston possesses.

    The Texans need the offense to do most of the heavy lifting at this point and right now QB Matt Schaub does not seem capable of handling that task. Houston must straighten things out in Week 17 to prepare for the playoffs.

2. Chicago Bears

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    Current Record: 9-6

     

    There was a time, long ago, when the Chicago Bears started this season 7-1. They seemed to be a lock to make the playoffs and had the makings of a Super Bowl contender.

    Those days have faded into distant memory as Chicago has almost completely fallen apart in the second half of the season. The Bears dropped five out of six games and a win over a bad Arizona Cardinals team in Week 16 does little to right the ship.

    Chicago needs greater offensive balance and consistency out of its defense. Brandon Marshall can not be the only productive player if this team wants to even make the playoffs, let alone compete once it gets there.

1. Dallas Cowboys

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    Current Record: 8-7

     

    The Dallas Cowboys love to tease their fanbase. Just when Dallas builds up a ton of momentum and makes a postseason surge, they fall to the New Orleans Saints and land on the brink of contention.

    Dallas did not play terribly before falling in overtime, but the Cowboys struggled enough defensively to warrant the loss.

    So, what do we make of the Cowboys at this point? Are they going to come out flat against the Washington Redskins in Week 17, or will they be a dominant force?

    Dallas is capable of playing at extreme highs or lows and that inconsistent nature is troubling, especially with the postseason looming.

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