5 NFL Playoff Teams That Have No Shot at Winning Super Bowl XLVII
Super Bowl XLVII: 5 NFL Playoff Teams That Have No Shot at Championship
When the NFL regular season concludes each year and the 12 playoff teams are finally determined, there are always squads in the mix who seem to have no place in the post-season.
Fortunately for fans, the 2012 NFL season was very competitive and the entire dozen of Super Bowl hopeful teams seem to be worthy post-season competitors as of now. But there is a huge difference between a playoff caliber team and a championship caliber team.
There is a reason why every player in the league fights and strives for the Lombardi Trophy so intensely, and that is because of just how hard it is to reign supreme over 31 other professional teams.
When you look at the quality of play and skill level displayed by nearly every NFL team, you remember the true significance of the term, “any given Sunday.” This basically means that when it comes to professional football, any team can get beat on any day, no matter who is the favorite or the underdog.
And when it comes to the playoffs, it’s no different.
Every season fans and experts make countless playoff predictions, from bold to ignorant, but rarely can anybody forecast exactly how the post-season is going to play out.
A lot of the time Super Bowl match-ups consist of perennial powerhouses stacked with All-Pros, but sometimes the big game is the perfect stage for a “Cinderella story,” just like in Super Bowl XLIII. After entering the playoffs in a slump, toting a very modest 9-7 record, the Arizona Cardinals nearly held off the far-superior Pittsburgh Steelers for a championship title, but to no avail.
Even though teams like this Cardinals squad can rise from the ashes and prove to the league that they are legitimate contenders, the weak links in the playoffs are usually pretty noticeable.
So even in a talent-packed post-season like this year, there are some teams that have absolutely no chance at winning the Super Bowl.
Take a look at which five NFL playoff teams are sure to perish en route to a Super Bowl XLVII championship.
5. Baltimore Ravens
While the Ravens looked impressive early on this season, they lost four of their final five regular season games, and just do not have the dominant offense or defense necessary to win a Super Bowl title.
And even though the Ravens possess very respectable competitors on each side of the ball, their defense is nowhere near as fierce as it is most years, and Joe Flacco just is not the kind of quarterback that is going to win a Super Bowl without a very stout defensive unit.
The Ravens could experience a great boost in moral this post-season as hype-man and perennial Pro Bowler, LB Ray Lewis (triceps), is expected to return from injury for one last hurrah. Lewis announced just this week that he will likely retire at the end of the season.
Flacco, RB Ray Rice and the Ravens’ offense did a great job at scoring enough points to disguise their defensive struggles all season, but we all know that solid defense is imperative in the playoffs.
Even with the return of Lewis, the Ravens’ D is just too weak, and they will not advance past the divisional round.
4. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have truly had the definition of a fairy-tale season.
After toting the worst record in the NFL last season, the Colts cashed in big on draft day, grabbing stud QB Andrew Luck with the first overall pick. Luck has already exploded past expectations, reaching the playoffs in his debut season, and shattering a plethora of rookie quarterbacking records.
In a very heart-warming tale, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano rejoined his team just last week after enduring months of cancer treatment. The strength and perseverance put forth by Pagano seemed to reflect on his team, as a very unlikely squad engineered a truly remarkable season.
But it is sad to say that the dream is over. While the Colts were surely a force to be reckoned with in the regular season, they just do not have the wisdom and leadership to win a Super Bowl.
While I do expect Luck to lead Indy to one, maybe two, playoff victories this season, the rook is going to need some more miles on his tires before he can wrangle with the big boys.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
This Bengals squad sure did end up manufacturing a decent record and a respectable season, but no way will they win, let alone make it, to Super Bowl XLVII.
An inconsistent defense paired up with an offense that is a one-trick pony is certainly not what you call a winning combination. Bengals QB Andy Dalton had a solid year from a statistics standpoint, but it seems like all he knows how to do is throw up prayers to WR A.J. Green.
Yes, Green is easily one of the most talented and athletic receivers in the league, but a team can not win a championship when they only have one go-to-guy.
Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis was able to tally over 1,000 rushing yards in 2012, which was his first year with the team, but he is far from the type of back that is capable of leading an offense.
If there is one team that I would consider the doormat in this post-season, it would be the Bengals. I expect the Houston Texans to take care of the Bengals with ease in the first round of the playoffs, quickly squandering their championship hopes.
2. Atlanta Falcons
Now this may come as a shock to some viewers, considering the Falcons are the number one seed in the NFC, holding a first round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
But this is just not the year for the Falcons. After a glorious 8-0 start to the year, the Falcons went 5-3 in their final eight games, including a loss to their division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17.
The one thing that scares me the most about the Falcons is the inconsistency of QB Matt Ryan. While he can perform like a first-ballot Hall of Famer some weeks, he then will have an absolutely dreadful passing day, seemingly out of nowhere. Just to show Ryan’s incredible differential in performances, he racked up 8 of his 14 interceptions on the season during the course of just two games.
The obvious decline of Falcons RB Michael Turner is also a great cause for concern. Everybody knows that in the playoffs, teams need that ground and pound type guy in order to eat and clock and seal victories. Unfortunately, Turner just is not the same runner that he used to be.
The Falcons are on anything but a roll entering the playoffs, and their two-week layoff before game action is a negative thing for a team that needs to get on the field quickly in order to iron out the wrinkles.
While the Falcons may be able to win their first playoff game, and possibly an NFC title, they just do not have what it takes to bring home a championship this year.
1. Minnesota Vikings
As much as I will love watching Vikings RB Adrian Peterson gash every defense he plays against this post-season, he just does not have the supporting cast to win the Super Bowl.
Vikings QB Christian Ponder was again very jittery and inconsistent during his second NFL season, and lacked the confidence necessary to be a franchise quarterback. While Ponder did have a few solid games and useful contributions this season, the overall effort on the year was more than lackluster.
Nobody expected the Vikings to even reach the playoffs when the year began, so they deserve tremendous credit for even reaching the post-season. Of course the majority of the praise should be directed towards Peterson, as the tailback carried the team on his shoulders all season long, en route to a historic season.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that the Vikings have a legitimate shot at giving the Green Bay Packers a run for their money in the wildcard round. If QB Aaron Rodgers and the Pack aren’t ready to stack points up on the board to match Peterson’s efforts, they could be in for an upset.
With a soon-to-be healthy WR Percy Harvin, an improving Ponder, and a future Hall of Famer in Peterson, this Vikings squad will certainly be a threat in the NFL for years to come.
But with a playoff field absolutely stacked with veteran talent in 2012, the Vikings have no chance at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at season’s end.
Please follow Joe on Twitter @Joe_RantNFL for all Eagles/NFL insight.
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