2011 NFL Predictions: Top 5 Achilles Heels for Contending Teams

Jake WinieckiCorrespondent IIIAugust 2, 2011

2011 NFL Predictions: Top 5 Achilles Heels for Contending Teams

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    Every year there are a few teams that have all the necessary tools to be champions, but fall short due to one or two aspects of their team that hold them back.

    We have seen some teams try to combat this through free agency, but also a few teams have just stayed put, hoping that they can overcome their deficiencies as a team.

    We will see this year whether or not these factors prevent these teams from succeeding.

    Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

5. Colts Running Game

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    Despite having the fourth-best offense in the NFL last season based on points and yards, they finished 29th in rushing with only 92.7 yards per game as a team. 

    It goes to show you how good Peyton Manning and the passing game is, but will they be able to keep it up?  If the passing game falters just slightly they are in trouble.  Joe Addai and Donald Brown aren't going to magically get better and they didn't add anyone in the offseason.

    Look for the Texans to give the Colts a run for their money this season in the AFC South.

4. Patriots Pass Defense

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    The Patriots have a lot of talent in their secondary.  Despite that, they finished 30th in the league last year in pass defense.  A large part of that was their lack of pass rush, but the DBs still need to do a better job covering.

    New England should be one of the favorites entering the 2011 season, but come playoff time their pass defense could come back to haunt them.  They could be absolutely shredded up by a good QB like Ben Roethlisberger or Philip Rivers.  Even if they manage to make it to the Super Bowl they would be torched by Aaron Rodgers.  I mean, we saw what even Matt Flynn was able to do to them last season.

3. Eagles Linebackers

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    As I touched on here, there are actually a few things that could hold the Eagles back this season, but none more prevalent than their lack of talent at linebacker.  It just may in fact be the worst in the league.

    If there is a reason why the defense doesn't live up to the hype, that will be it.  Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews and Mosie Fokou just aren't that good.  The one thing they have going for them is that they're all very young and can improve.

    Only time will tell if they do and if the Eagles will be able to live up to their lofty expectations this season.

2. Chargers Special Teams

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    The Chargers finished 2010 with the No. 1 offense and the No. 1 defense in the NFL.  So how in the world did they only finish 9-7?

    The main reason for it was the absolutely disgusting special teams play they had last year.  They should be better, but I don't know how much better.  They find a way to underachieve every year.  I don't think it will be too much different this year, especially since I don't think they are as statistically brilliant as they were last year.

1. Mark Sanchez (NYJ)

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    Too many people credit Mark Sanchez for getting the Jets to the AFC championship game in his first two years.  The bottom line is that if they had a better QB, they would have been able to take the next step and could even have two Super Bowls.

    "He's a winner"—I hear that way too much.  Vince Young wins games; now he's a backup.  Trent Dilfer even won a Super Bowl.

    Bottom line: In Sanchez's first two season he has completed 54.4 percent of his passes for a 70.2 rating.  He also has thrown 29 TDs as opposed to 33 interceptions.  Those stats make him one of the worst starting QBs in the NFL.  Until Sanchez starts playing better, the Jets will not make good on Rex Ryan's promise to win a Super Bowl.