NFL Playoff Picture: The Biggest Flaw of Every Playoff Team
As we enter the last few weeks of the regular season, the contenders are separating themselves from the pretenders in the NFL.
Each of the potential playoff teams are extremely strong, as shown by their terrific record and consistent wins.
But no contender is perfect. At least once this season every playoff team has had their weaknesses exploited, and it has proved costly.
Although some teams have more obvious flaws then others, they each still have big weaknesses that could cost them a Lombardi Trophy this season.
New York Jets
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Biggest Flaw: Weak Safeties
Although many would argue that Mark Sanchez is the Jets' biggest weakness, it is the safeties that top the list.
Jim Leonhard's season-ending injury leaves a massive drop in production at the position, as Eric Smith and Brodney Pool do not possess the talent or leadership qualities to pick up the majority of the slack.
Teams no longer need to challenge New York's terrific cornerback duo, as they can attack the middle of the field with ease.
The lack of quality safeties could really cost the Jets against teams with potent passing games.
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Biggest Flaw: Immaturity
The Lions own one of the most talented rosters in football, but the team is still learning how to act under pressure.
Detroit often lacks self-control on the field, as they currently lead the league in penalties. These penalties are costly ones, and they will be taken advantage of by quality opponents in the postseason.
If the Lions can not mature over the next few weeks, then they could be heading for an early playoff exit in January.
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Biggest Flaw: Nagging Injuries
The Steelers possess one of the most complete teams in the NFL, but injuries have taken their toll on them this year.
Pittsburgh has lost multiple star players for extended periods of time due to injury this season. Although the defense is finally getting healthy, it is the team's quarterback who is a cause for concern.
Ben Roethlisberger is one of the toughest players in the league, but constant hard hits and injuries are wearing him down. The quarterback did not look like his usual self on Monday night, and the offense could not get anything going.
If the Steelers are going to make another deep playoff run, then they need to rest Roethlisberger and allow him to regain full health.
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Biggest Flaw: Offensive Inconsistency
The Falcons have one of the most explosive offenses in football, but the unit has failed to click numerous times this season.
Atlanta has scored 14 points or less four times this year, and they have lost every one of those games.
Matt Ryan is a superb quarterback, but he can struggle at times. On any given Sunday, he can look like a totally different player.
The running game, led by bruising back Michael Turner, is also unreliable, as it has failed to break through against strong defenses this season.
If the Falcons are going to make their first deep playoff run in the Matt Ryan era, then they need to be more consistent on the offensive side of the ball.
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Biggest Flaw: Weak Passing Game
The Broncos have been one of the better teams in the league over the last two months, but they have failed to establish a strong aerial attack all season.
Tim Tebow is a terrific leader and an excellent runner, but he lacks the arm strength to make great throws.
This weakness was exposed by the Patriots last Sunday, as Denver failed to keep up with an explosive offense, even when playing against one of the league's worst defenses.
Unless Tebow can miraculously turn into an excellent passer, then the Broncos stand no chance against the elite teams in the AFC.
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Biggest Flaw: Mental Lapses
The Dallas Cowboys have one of the most balanced teams in the NFL, but it has been their poor decision-making that has cost them multiple games this season.
From Tony Romo throwing with a huge lead late against the Lions, to Jason Garrett failing to call a crucial timeout against the Cardinals, Dallas' season has been highlighted by mental errors.
However, the Cowboys' error is the most fixable out of those on the list, as all they need to do is pick up their concentration late in the game.
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Biggest Flaw: Inconsistency at Quarterback
Houston could be one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL if star quarterback Matt Schaub managed to stay healthy all season.
However, Schaub's season-ending injury has left the Texans with rookie TJ Yates at the helm.
Yates has performed well in a few games, but he's also struggled in others.
Against elite defenses like the Ravens, Steelers and Jets, the Texans may struggle to put a passing game together.
New Orleans Saints
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Biggest Flaw: Poor Passing Defense
The Saints are a major threat for the Lombardi Trophy this season, but it could be their weak passing defense that hinders them in January.
New Orleans' secondary has struggled all season, as they have been lit up by opposing quarterbacks in the majority of games.
The Saints currently own the league's 28th-worst passing defense, and against elite quarterbacks like those in the NFC, this could spell trouble in the postseason.
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Biggest Flaw: Consistent Inconsistency
The Ravens are the most complete team in the AFC, but they failed to perform against multiple inferior opponents this year.
Baltimore has suffered key losses to weaker teams like the Titans, Seahawks, Chargers and Jaguars this season.
The Ravens have many offensive weapons and a stingy defense, but if they fail to show up in the postseason, then they could be heading home early.
San Francisco 49ers
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Biggest Flaw: Weak Passing Game
The 49ers are led by their stifling run defense and the resurgent Frank Gore. Alex Smith has been a terrific game manager all year, but he could be a liability in the postseason.
San Francisco ranks a lowly 30th in passing this year, and Smith has failed to show up against solid defenses.
New England Patriots
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Biggest Flaw: Awful Pass Defense
The Patriots could be 14-0 if it wasn't for their terrible pass defense.
The unit currently ranks last in the league in defending the pass, and they have been lit up by some of the weakest starting quarterbacks in the league.
New England's potent offense has been carrying the team all season, but if Tom Brady fails to show up in January, then the Pats will be heading home early.
The defense can not be trusted in the postseason.
Green Bay Packers
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Biggest Flaw: Weak Passing Defense
The Packers are the strongest team in the NFL, but they still have their weaknesses.
Green Bay has struggled defensively all year, and they currently rank 31st in the league against the pass.
The NFC playoff picture is littered with outstanding quarterbacks, so it could be the horrible pass defense that ends up preventing the Packers from repeating this season.