Well, since some of y'all seem to have a side obsession with the NFL's Power Rankings, here is a list of the top dozen teams who have the highest pressure index according to NFP via Yahoo Sports. Of course it's as subjective as the power rankings, but it is worth noting that we can deduce the NFC South to be a pressure cooker as three teams are on the list. Something is gonna blow, and I hope it ain't us.
Pressure is felt is just about every walk of life. That’s not to say it’s always present, but at some point pressure will find you and it will weigh on you. Jobs, families, sweating out the final two minutes of Thursday night’s Kings-Sharks thriller—pressure is completely and utterly inescapable over the long haul.
The members of the NFL family know this fact all too well. Front office personnel, coaches, players, hell even the fans feel the pressure that accompanies the win-at-all-costs mentality of professional football.
But depending upon the situation, some in the NFL will feel the pressure more than others. As we continue our approach towards the 2013 season, here are the 12 teams we believe will be feeling the most heat in the coming months.
7. Carolina Panthers: The country was predicting big things for the Panthers after rookie quarterback Cam Newton set the league on fire in 2011, but Carolina followed up a commendable 6-10 season with just seven wins in 2012. Granted, the team showed some guts by winning five of their final six contests, but a 1-6 start proved far too much to overcome. Now entering their third seasons, head coach Ron Rivera and Newton need to show the league that the Panthers are a legitimate playoff contender. Anything short of 8-8 will be considered a failure.
What must be accomplished: A winning record with at least three divisional victories.
I think that it's pretty much spot on, although some of you believe that the postseason is the litmus test. With the tough division, and teams in a tough situation, I feel it's important to keep reasonable expectations.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: You can’t spend the kind of money Tampa Bay has doled out over the last two years and not expect to attract a significant amount of attention. Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, Eric Wright, Dashon Goldson, Darrelle Revis…the list goes on and on. And while last year’s 7-9 record under rookie head coach Greg Schiano wasn’t a complete disappointment, the fact that the Buccaneers collapsed down the stretch for the second season in a row has raised some red flags. Tampa Bay plays in a brutal division, but the holes in the secondary have been plugged and the offense has more than enough firepower to light up the scoreboard. It’s time for the opposition to worry about a matchup with the Bucs, not laugh.
What must be accomplished: .500 or better over the months of November and December with a defense that ranks in the top-10 against the pass.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Had Matt Bryant not drilled that 49-yarder with eight seconds remaining in the NFC divisional round against the Seahawks, Atlanta would be No. 1 on this list. But Bryant connected, the Falcons had their first playoff win of the Matt Ryan-Mike Smith era and the franchise bought itself a sliver of breathing room. Now it’s time to take another step forward. Otherwise, this team is going to become the 2001-2003 Philadelphia Eagles.
What must be accomplished: A return to the NFC Championship game at a minimum. A spot in the Super Bowl preferably.
One thing is for sure, there are going to be some unhappy campers in the NFC South because of outlandish expectations, and the fact that some fans have bought into the national lack of appreciation for how tough this division really is (apparently thinking there are some gimme games on the schedule). I believe we can do great things, but to underestimate our opponents is the first step on the road to failure (within the context of being a fan).
For what it's worth, Coach Fox and the Denver Broncos are at the top of the list.