It seems to happen every year. A team comes storming out of the box, only to then fade like the summer sun. They start with an impressive record, are taking care of teams right and left, but then, by the times it’s all said and done, the team is sitting at home watching their fellow teams in the playoffs.
This year in the NFL is no different. There are a few teams that started the year hot, but now are either already out of the playoff picture, or are simply fighting for their playoff lives as we enter the final weekend of the regular season. Here are a couple of teams that right now are on the verge of the “choke job” of the year in the NFL.
1. Denver Broncos – They have been a model of inconsistency all season long. Yet if you think back to the start of the season when they got the call in week two vs San Diego, they were a team that really looked like an AFC power. They scored 114 points in the first three weeks in going 3-0, then the bottom started to fall out in week four vs the Chiefs in a 33-19 loss at Arrowhead. They were 8-5 after 13 games, and needed just one more win to clinch the AFC West. But, after two tough losses to the Panthers and Bills, they are 8-7 and within one more choke job of losing the division to the Chargers. Sunday’s loss to San Diego likely will finish them off. They have also been kicked by the injury bug, as they are starting their 6th starting RB on Sunday.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Were 9-3 after an impressive 23-20 win in the rain over the Saints on November 23rd. From there, it’s been a nightmare for the Bucs, as they have forgotten how to stop the run, and have lost three straight to the Panthers, Falcons and Chargers. Sunday’s setback was a big time stinger, as they lost at home for the first time in 08, and also led 24-20 with 5:05 left in the third quarter, only to allow 21 unanswered points, and go on to lose 41-24. They need to beat the Raiders at home Sunday, and have the Cowboys lose to the Eagles for a playoff birth. If they don’t reach the postseason, they will lament blowing and division after a hot start that made them a team mentioned in the same breath as the Giants at points of the season.
3. New York Jets – Remember when they scored 56 points in week four? How about that ultra-impressive win vs the Titans on November 23rd 34-13? Well, now for the Jets, they have been grounded, and Sunday’s setback to the not-so-good Seahawks in Seattle may have very well sealed their fate. They are now 9-6, this after being 8-3 after a five-game win streak that saw them win road games back-to-back against the Pats and Titans. They also have on their resume though losses to the Raiders and Seahawks, showing how very bad they can be on some days. They have one more chance on Sunday to make an impact by beating the Dolphins, but at the same time need help elsewhere. They also may have an interesting offseason with the possibility of losing Brett Farve to retirement, and possible coaching changes as well.