2011 NFL Season: 3 Teams Under .500 That Will Make the Playoffs

Aidan MackieSenior Analyst IOctober 10, 2011

2011 NFL Season: 3 Teams Under .500 That Will Make the Playoffs

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    The NFL has been a roller coaster ride, with some teams defying everyone and becoming winners, while other supposed contenders have struggled.

    These three teams under .500 boast too much talent to maintain their current skid, and will end the season on a high note and make the postseason.

    While they face a lot of criticism now, these franchises will be back in the elite class where they belong at the end of the season. 

Atlanta Falcons (2-3)

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    After being the most dominant NFC team in the regular season last year, the Atlanta Falcons have begun 2011 on a disappointing note.

    Atlanta was crushed by Chicago in Week 1 and suffered a tough loss to the Buccaneers in Week 4, before blowing a 14-point lead against the defending champion Packers last weekend. 

    Matt Ryan and the elite Falcons offense has really struggled, with dynamic threats Roddy White and Michael Turner drastically under producing.

    The defense has dealt with some tough injuries as well, losing star defensive end John Abraham last week. 

    Atlanta has played teams with a combined 48-32 record last year in the first five weeks—a staggering number.

    It drastically helps that the Falcons will be playing easier opponents for the rest of the year, with games against league bottom feeders like the Colts, Jaguars and Vikings

    The Falcons may not overwhelm you on both sides of the ball, but the team possesses too much talent to miss out on the postseason for the second time in two years.

New York Jets (2-3)

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    After two straight AFC Championship appearances, the New York Jets entered this season as Super Bowl favorites.

    But the team has really struggled in 2011, losing three in a row to drop to below .500 for the first time since they began last season 0-1. 

    Mark Sanchez has been a liability on offense, making crucial mistakes at key times, while the Jets "ground and pound" running strategy has been ineffective. New York's elite defense has also struggled, as they currently rank 27th in the league in rushing yards allowed. 

    However, Gang Green have superb talent on both sides of the ball, as well as veterans to lead the team.

    With an easier schedule ahead of them, the Jets should be able to get back on track, and establish themselves as one of the AFC's elite teams.

    Rex Ryan will gather his troops, and prove himself to be a talented coaching asset, as he will lead New York to the playoffs for the third-straight season. 

Philadelphia Eagles (1-4)

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    The Philadelphia Eagles "Dream Team" has been a nightmare so far this season, as they have fallen to 1-4 after four consecutive losses.

    The team is under a huge amount of criticism, with many pointing the Eagles mistakes to the players and coaches.

    Michael Vick has been extremely inconsistent, as he currently ranks first in turnovers in the league. Dynamic wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Desean Jackson have committed key mistakes at significant times, leading to tough losses.

    Philadelphia's restructured defense, littered with talent, has been a huge disappointment through five games, as they have allowed the third-most rushing yards in the NFL. The biggest mistakes for the defensive unit have been basic things, such as missed tackles and key penalties.

    Despite their early season struggles, Philadelphia arguably boasts the most talented team in football on both sides of the ball.

    The Eagles will benefit vastly from playing in a much-weakened NFC East, with the Cowboys, Giants and Redskins all with gaping holes.

    Expect Michael Vick and company to rebound this season, and enter the playoffs as one of the league's most dangerous teams.