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While there are three weeks left to the current season, it is clear that there is one guaranteed collapse, and possibly more to add when the dust has finally settled on the 2011 season.
The Buffalo Bills began the year 5-2 and looked like they were finally going to break their long 12-year playoffs drought. The Bills then proceeded to drop their next six straight games and are now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Injuries to key players on offense and defense really set the Bills back and the team's lack of depth came back to hurt the team.
The Bills lost Fred Jackson, Roscoe Parrish, Kyle Williams, Shawne Merriman, Donald Jones, Marcus Easley, Terrence McGee, Rian Lindell and Eric Wood to IR during the year. It should also be noted that the Bills went on their six-game losing streak right after Ryan Fitzpatrick signed his multi-year extension.
The Cincinnati Bengals began the year 6-2 and then proceeded to lose four of their next five games. It may have been more of a result of the schedule finally getting harder, as the Bengals dropped games to Houston, Baltimore and Pittsburgh (twice). The Bengals close out the year with Baltimore, and that game may very well determine their fate.
In the NFC, the Chicago Bears started out the year 7-3, but then major injuries struck. First it was quarterback Jay Cutler going down, then it was running back Matt Forte. The Bears have since lost three straight games, and at 7-6 they are in jeopardy of falling out of playoff contention.
The Detroit Lions started out the year 5-0, as they sought to end their long playoff drought as well. But after the hot start, they proceeded to go 2-5 over their next seven games to put their playoff quest in jeopardy. That 2-5 stretch started off with the loss to the 49ers and the infamous handshake between Coach Schwartz and Coach Harbaugh. Currently, the Lions are 8-5 and their fate may come to the final week of play, when they have to face the undefeated Green Bay Packers.
The New York Giants began the year with a very strong 6-2 record to take the early lead in the NFC East. But then the Giants dropped four straight games and watched Dallas take over the lead in the NFC East. But, the Giants defeated Dallas last week to snap the losing streak and they are now back in first place with a 7-6 record. If the Giants fail to reach the playoffs, they will kick themselves after such a great beginning to the year.