Atlanta Falcons and 10 NFL Teams Who Have No Excuses for Poor Seasons

Erick Fernandez@erickgfonsportsCorrespondent IIDecember 14, 2011

Atlanta Falcons and 10 NFL Teams Who Have No Excuses for Poor Seasons

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    There were numerous teams that had high hopes and high expectations heading into the season.

    Unfortunately for some franchises and their fanbases, their teams have under-achieved and have not lived up to these expectations and have no justifications for their failures and/or inconsistencies.

    Although there have been a number of teams that have played well and clinched playoff spots, there are those teams that have not played up to their potential. Now these teams are either scratching and clawing their way to try and reach the playoffs or are so far under .500 that they are already looking forward to next season.

    Here are 10 teams that have had a not-so-easy 2011 season.

The New York Giants

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    Many believe that the New York Giants have over-achieved considering the amount of injuries they have dealt with as well as inexperience of the offensive line.

    This might have been true before the Giants had constant success against some of the best teams in the NFL. Although there are obviously some issues that need to be addressed in offseason in regards to the defense, the G-men have demonstrated the capability to compete.

    Consequently there is no excuse or reason for them to lose against teams like the Washington Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks.

    New York should be 9-4 right now but as a result of their inability to avoid falling into these "trap games," the Giants' quest for an NFC East title will go down to the wire.

The Dallas Cowboys

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    The Cowboys are another NFC East team that has had their share of hot and cold streaks.

    When the Boys are playing well they're really good, but when they're not, they self-destruct.

    They have had a fourth quarter meltdown in five of their six losses, and as a result, people are questioning Tony Romo's clutchness.

    If the Cowboys hold on to at least two of these games late in the game and avoid these heartbreaking losses, the division would look very different.

The Philadelphia Eagles

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    Of course the Philadelphia Eagles were going to appear on this list.

    With the offseason signings of CB Nnamdi Asomougha, DT Cullen Jenkins, DE Jason Babin and WR Steve Smith, many "experts" believed that the Eagles were one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

    Philly is sitting at 5-8 and is third in the division.

    It is clear that things haven't panned out the way that they expected.

The Minnesota Vikings

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    This offseason the Minnesota Vikings signed veteran Donavon McNabb to help lead their offense. With Adrian Peterson in the back field and Percy Harvin still at wide out Minnesota seemed to be in good shape to compete.

    The Vikings proceeded to lose their first three games of the season in heart breaking fashion which included three blown fourth quarter leads.

    Things continued to fall apart for the Vikings for the rest of the season.

    They have lost five straight games and share the second worst record in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams.

The Atlanta Falcons

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    Last year the Atlanta Falcons ended the season with a 13-3 record and the No. 1 seed for the NFC in the playoffs.

    This year they haven't been as dominant and are playing second fiddle to the New Orleans Saints who have already beaten the Falcons earlier this season.

    Tough losses to the Chicago Bears and lowly Buccaneers are the main reason why the Falcons are 8-5 and fighting to earn a wild-card spot.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    After finishing 10-6 and being one of the surprise teams in the league last season, there were high expectations for QB Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    They have showed that they can play with some of the best teams in the NFL after beating the Saints in Week 6, but they have also showed that they aren't ready for the big time after getting blown out 48-3 to the 49ers in Week 5.

    The Bucs are 4-9 and have lost seven straight heading into their Week 15 matchup with Dallas.

    The season just got out of hand very quickly for Tampa Bay.

The St. Louis Rams

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    With rookie Sam Bradford leading the St. Louis Rams to a 7-9 record and almost leading them to a playoff appearance, many thought that the Rams would only be better in his second season.

    This has not been the case at all as the Rams are 2-11 and are in the cellar in the NFC West.

    After starting the season 0-6, it was obvious that Bradford was suffering through a sophomore slump.

    Although Sam Bradford suffered an injury in the middle of the season, the Rams were already out of any playoff contention by that point.

The Arizona Cardinals

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    When the Arizona Cardinals traded for quarterback Kevin Kolb and signed star WR Larry Fitzgerald this offseason, it seemed as if they were going to be a threat in the NFC West with a "legitimate" quarterback. That obviously has not been the case.

    It seems as if the Cardinals put all their eggs in one basket and trusted their season to Kolb and he has disappointed all year. With him at QB the Cardinals are 2-6, and with John Skelton, they are 4-1.

    Apparently the Cardinals make the wrong choice at QB.

The New York Jets

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    After the New York Jets made a second straight AFC title game appearance in 2010, head coach Rex Ryan made another guarantee that his Jets were going to win the Super Bowl.

    Well Rex, the Jets haven't looked too impressive at some points this season. At times their offense has looked inefficient and anemic. Mark Sanchez has had a tough time executing this season especially in the games against the better teams in the AFC.

    Losses to New England, Baltimore and Denver really highlighted some of their weaknesses on offense.

    At 8-5 they are in the playoff hunt but will have to battle hard in the next three games to make an appearance.  

The San Diego Chargers

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    When the San Diego Chargers started the season 4-1 it appeared as if they were going to run away with the AFC West.

    After a Week 7 loss to the Jets the wheels fell off big time. The Chargers lost six in a row and let the Denver Broncos take control in the division.

    Despite having the weapons available on offense the Chargers just have not been able to get the results on both sides of the ball.

    Heading into Week 15 San Diego is 6-7, and barring a collapse by the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders, the Chargers will be out of the playoffs for the second straight season.