5 NFL Teams Plummeting After Week 16

Michael KimbleContributor IIIDecember 26, 2011

5 NFL Teams Plummeting After Week 16

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    Week 16 was rough on some teams in the NFL, as several teams were eliminated from playoff contention, and even teams that are still in playoff contention struggled, and are now in serious danger of being eliminated with a loss in Week 17.

    Week 16 also exposed some teams that are already out of the playoffs, making it clear that those teams have a lot of work to do next season to try and turn things around.

    It was a rough Christmas weekend for many teams in the NFL, but here are the five teams that I believe showed their vulnerabilities the most in Week 16, and could either be in danger of being knocked out of the playoffs, or are going to have a long year next year.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The Buccaneers were embarrassed by their division rival, the Carolina Panthers, who were a dismal 2-14 last year, and this year with Cam Newton at the helm, are an improved 6-9. Meanwhile, the Bucs, who showed so much promise last year, are a very disappointing 4-11, and are sure to be at the bottom of the NFC South this year.

    Last year, Raheem Morris seemed to be the right coach for the Bucs, as he was able to ignite his team with a fire that they hadn't seen in years. However, this year, the Bucs have struggled greatly, especially in recent weeks, as they have been riding a nine-game losing streak, not having won a game since Week 6 when they were 4-2.

    The Bucs showed this year that they still have a long way to go to be a true contender, and unless they turn things around in 2012, their 10-6 campaign in 2010 may have been an aberration.

4. Houston Texans

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    The Texans may be in the playoffs this year, and they have a lot of talent on their roster to make them a good team for a long time, but there is just one problem for this year: Their starting quarterback, Matt Schaub, is out for the year, and they will have to rely on their backup quarterback, T.J. Yates, throughout the postseason.

    While Yates won a few big games for the Texans, they are now riding a two-game losing streak after falling to the Panthers and Colts.

    The Texans are going to have a hard time if they have to face teams like the Patriots, Steelers and Ravens in the playoffs, and while they can certainly win a playoff game or two by beating an inferior team, I do not think that Yates is going to lead them to a Super Bowl. While the Texans have that Super Bowl talent in the long term, this week's loss to the Colts showed that this year may not be their year.

3. San Diego Chargers

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    With the exception of a 4-1 start, and a three-game winning streak late in the season, the Chargers have showed a lot of vulnerabilities this season, and in a 38-10 loss to the Lions, showed even more.

    Their quarterback, Philip Rivers, is an elite talent, but has struggled greatly this year. Their defense has failed to make key stops, and their coach and general manager are in the hot seat after yet another collapse despite a talented roster.

    Norv Turner has showed that he isn't able to lead a team even as talented as the Chargers to a Super Bowl, or even recently a playoff berth. Their general manager, A.J. Smith, has made questionable personnel decisions, and is not well-liked among players or fans.

    If the Chargers are going to turn things around, they are going to have to make improvements in their coaching and front office. Perhaps if they bring in a coach like Jeff Fischer or Bill Cowher in the offseason, the Chargers will be contenders once again.

2. Denver Broncos

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    An embarrassing 40-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills have sent Denver into a tailspin all of a sudden, when they were just a few weeks ago riding a 7-1 streak under Tim Tebow.

    In the last two games, however, the Broncos have struggled on defense, and in this game, Tebow was the opposite of what he was two weeks ago, when he would lead his team to a glorious comeback. This week, Tebow threw four interceptions, two of which were intercepted for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

    Right now, the Broncos have to win a game against the Kansas City Chiefs to get into the playoffs. But if they play like they have in the past two weeks, they are going to have a tough time winning the AFC West.

1. Dallas Cowboys

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    The Dallas Cowboys were thought to be the class of the NFC East a few weeks ago, as they enjoyed a 7-4 record. However, in the past four weeks, they have lost three of their last four, two of which were against division rivals, and one of which were to the lowly Arizona Cardinals.

    To get into the playoffs, the Cowboys will have to defeat the New York Giants in MetLife Stadium, a team that just beat them in their own house two weeks ago, and a team that just came off a big win against the New York Jets.

    Even if the Cowboys pull out this win, I'm not sure I buy them in the playoffs. They have a suspect pass defense, an inexperienced offense and a quarterback who has struggled to win the big games. If the Cowboys make it, I do not see them going far in the playoffs, especially if they continue performing like they have in the last four weeks.