Originally posted on Cippin on Sports  |  Last updated 8/9/12

No team is without its flaw. Join us as we take a look at the fatal flaw that might cost 5 contenders a shot at Super Bowl glory.

New York Giants: Questionable Running Game

The Giants ranked 32nd (last in the league) in run production last season. Part of that was due to Pro Bowler Amhad Bradshaw’s foot injury, which caused him to miss four games. Their passing game actually improved despite the trouble that they had running the ball, as quarterback Eli Manning had the best year of his career. Manning and the passing game will likely be strong again, and the addition of rookie running back David Wilson should help improve their running game. However, until the young rookie proves himself, and Bradshaw can stay healthy, the running game is the biggest question mark in the Giant’s Super Bowl defense.

New England Patriots: Question Marks on Defense

The Patriots offense is only a step below the Packers offense particularly in consistent explosiveness from several threats. However, similar to the Packers, the Patriots lack consistent defensive play. Their offense can outscore almost any team in the league, however when the Patriot’s offense is slowed down even a little (as they were in the Super Bowl) their defense shows its weaknesses. Head Coach Bill Belichick used his first six picks in the draft to help bolster the young defense. The Patriots are absolutely a force to be reckoned with, but their defense posses a lot of questions and the answers to those questions could mean another Super Bowl victory, or another disappointing end to the season.

Green Bay Packers: Inconsistent Defense, especially in the Secondary

The Packers offense dominated last season, losing only one game and scoring at will consistently. The problem was that once a team like the Giants was able to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the offense, the defense was exposed as being weaker than expected. Their defense has the playmakers in Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson, A.J. Hawk (among others) however last season they ranked last in the league in yards allowed. Their running game has not been consistent in a few years, however with all the talented receivers and Rodgers they do not seem to really need one. This team still might be the most talented team in the NFL and if their defense can even start to figure things out again, they will be tough to beat.

Baltimore Ravens: Inconsistent Passing Game

One thing has been synonymous with the Baltimore Ravens for the last twelve seasons, defense. Their defenses have been in the top ten or top five basically since they won the Super bowl in 2001 with Marvin Lewis (not Rex Ryan) as their defensive coordinator. Unfortunately the Ravens have never been able to make it back to the Super bowl despite their solid defenses. Ray Rice is as consistent of a running back as there is in the NFL. As the focal point of their offense he is very solid, however the NFL is a passing league. Joe Flacco has been steadily getting better but if this team wants another Super Bowl, Flacco needs to be the one to bring them to that level, not Rice. Another smaller weakness is not catching game winning touchdowns when the ball is put in the receiver’s hands. I’m looking at you, Lee Evans.

San Francisco 49ers: Can Alex Smith Build off Last Year?

Am I the only one not completely sold on Alex Smith being a quarterback who can lead a team to a championship? Alex Smith finally played not terrible last season after being drafted twenty-three spots in front of Aaron Rodgers. The 49ers were a special team’s fumble away from the Super Bowl last season and have added running back Brandon Jacobs and drafted Oregon’s LaMichael James to complement Pro Bowler Frank Gore. The team has also added wide receivers in Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham and newly unretired Randy Moss to go along with Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. The 49ers have helped their one glaring weakness by getting more weapons for Smith to throw to. However, their team is still dependent on Smith to make plays consistently and last year he did that, the six years before that he simply did not. Jim Harbaugh’s heavy pursuit of Peyton Manning probably does not help his confidence either. The 49ers will be strong, but how strong will depend on how consistent and reliable Alex Smith can be.

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