Four NFL Playoff Teams That Could Falter in 2010

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Four NFL Playoff Teams That Could Falter in 2010
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Last week we looked at six teams who could crash the NFL playoff party in 2010.

This week we'll examine four playoff teams from a year ago who could fall off their pedestals this season.

Here is a quick look at four teams who made the playoffs last season, but could falter in 2010:

 

New England Patriots

The Patriots dynasty established by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady this decade is starting to show some cracks in the foundation. Brady even came out publicly last week and stated that his teammates lacked mental toughness and didn't listen to Belichick last season. Strong words indeed.

Brady is still Brady, but the offense lacks a strong running game, Wes Welker is trying to come back from a serious knee injury, and age is creeping up on Randy Moss. The defense is aging just as fast as the offense, the secondary is suspect, and there isn't much depth all-around.

Youngsters like Devin McCourty, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez will need to develop faster than normal to help fill up the cracks starting to appear in the Patriots' armor.

With the Jets and the Dolphins rising fast in the AFC East, the days of New England dominance could be at an end - sooner rather than later.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

Andy Reid rolled the dice this season and went all-in on making the Eagles a younger football team. Brian Westbrook was released, while Sheldon Brown and Mr. Eagle himself, Donovan McNabb, were traded. McNabb left as the all-time winningest quarterback in franchise history, as well as holding all the team's career passing marks.

His loss will be felt, even if Philly fans won't admit it.

If Reid wants to pull this transition off and keep the Eagles a legit playoff team, he'll need Kevin Kolb to step up and take over as the leader of the team. Make no mistake, the coach and Kolb's futures are wrapped up together. If Kolb fails, Reid could be out of a job, despite his great track record of success.

Kolb is entering a pretty good situation. Philadelphia has a decent running attack and DeSean Jackson is transforming himself into the new T.O - motor mouth, but big talent. The offensive line is adequate and the defense is solid if not spectacular. The major question mark is with Kolb. He  may not be the savior Reid and company believe he is.

Kolb wanted the spotlight. Now he's got it. It's up to him not to crack under the pressure.

Look for the Eagles to suffer some growing pains with Kolb and miss the playoffs for only the fourth time in Reid's 12-year tenure.

 

Arizona Cardinals

No team lost more talent in the offseason than the Cardinals.

Kurt Warner, one of the all-time greats, retired after a fairytale career; Anquan Boldin was traded to Baltimore and the Ravens are still sending thank-you notes to Bill Bidwell; Samari Rolle was released, and Karlos Dansby and Bertrand Berry left via free agency.

Ouch!

The losses are numerous and heavy. Maybe too heavy to bounce back from?

Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson, two inconsistent quarterbacks for most of their careers, will be asked to pick up the slack left by Warner. I don't think either is up to the task. The Cardinals' front office is concerned about it as well, which is why another former Rams QB is on their radar.

Look for Marc Bulger to get an offer from Arizona before training camp opens.

The Cardinals, two years removed from their Super Bowl XLIII appearance, still have some swagger left, but if they can't get consistent production from the quarterback position, and surmount their numerous offseason losses, Arizona will fall back to a position its fans are all-too familiar with - DNQ for the playoffs.

 

Minnesota Vikings

There should be an asterisk on this selection. It all depends on whether Brett Favre retires or not.

If Favre comes back, and after getting offseason ankle surgery it looks like he will, the Vikings are Super Bowl contenders. If he doesn't, they won't even make the playoffs.

Favre, who somehow found Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth, led the team to the NFC Championship Game, and if not for five turnovers, Minnesota would have gone to the Super Bowl.

Five turnovers and it still took overtime for the Saints to win.

The Vikings have a very good offensive line; Sidney Rice has become a superstar wide receiver, and Adrian Peterson is the best back in the league, when he can hold on to the football.

The key to everything is Favre. 

If he comes back, the offense will pick up where it left off in 2009. If he retires, good luck this season Viking fans. You'll need it if your hopes ride on Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson leading you to the Promised Land.

There are a lot of ifs involved with Minnesota. If Favre doesn't return or gets injured, and if Pat and Kevin Williams can't continue to keep the NFL from suspending them, the Vikings Super Bowl dream could turn into a nightmare.

If Favre returns, and returns healthy, the sky's the limit.

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