As 2013 gets under way, a number of NFL teams are limping into the offseason.
Topping the list are the New York Giants, the 2012 Super Bowl champions. A 9-7 record was not enough to prevent a second place finish in the National Football Conference East.
Eli Manning’s Giants were in control of their postseason destiny for most of the season after a 6-2 start. New York would miss the playoffs after bad losses to the Cincinnati Bengals, division rival Washington Redskins, the NFC-leading Atlanta Falcons and American Football Conference North winners the Baltimore Ravens.
New York’s arch rival, the Dallas Cowboys, also will be disappointed with how 2012 played out. An 8-8 finish placed them third in the NFC East after the Cowboys failed to win an elimination contest in the regular season’s final game for the second straight year. Tony Romo put up good numbers (4,903 passing yards and 28 touchdowns) but Dallas ended the year on a two-game losing streak. Romo’s long-term future, as well as that of head coach Jason Garrett and team owner Jerry Jones, remains in doubt.
The Chicago Bears did not wait long to make personnel changes, firing head coach Lovie Smith after a 10-6 season failed to culminate in a postseason berth. Like the Giants, the Bears started well at 7-1 before a three-game losing skid late doomed their season. Chicago were hampered all season by an ineffective offence as Jay Cutler had mediocre numbers (including 14 interceptions) and was stifled by injury again.
The AFC saw its share of failed seasons from the 8-8 Pittsburgh Steelers, 7-9 San Diego Chargers and 6-10 New York Jets. All had legitimate playoff ambitions heading into their campaigns.
Ben Roethlisberger would have an uncharacteristic late-season collapse for Pittsburgh, Philip Rivers had a mediocre season for San Diego and the Jets struggled with ineffective quarterback play from Mark Sanchez. As a result, the Chargers fired coach Norv Turner and New York axed general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
All can only watch as the playoffs begin this weekend. On Saturday, 5 January, the Bengals face the Houston Texans at 4.30pm with the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers in action at 8pm on NBC.
On Sunday, 6 January, the Indianapolis Colts and the Ravens square off at 1pm on CBS with the Seattle Seahawks and the Redskins in action at 4.30pm on Fox.
New York would miss the playoffs after bad losses to the Cincinnati Bengals, division rival Washington Redskins, the NFC-leading Atlanta Falcons and American Football Conference North winners the Baltimore Ravens.