It’s coming down to the Playoffs. Here are the NFL superstars who might make that one big play that makes all the difference. Some are heralded. Some are heralded but forgotten. And some are almost unknown. Watch out for them.
DT Panthers. He’s no household name, but Short broke out this year with 6 sacks and 32 tackles. His big-time play has meant everything to this middle-of-the-pack defense on an undefeated team.
Running Back, Eagles. Quietly, Darren Sproles is on his way to the Pro Bowl again. Eagles’ Coach Jim Kelly has become known for giving up offensive talent, not for having it. But Sproles is still a potent weapon, especially as a punt returner. He’s taken two back To The House and could surprise somebody as the Eagles vie for the NFC East crown.
S, Steelers. Everybody knows about the killer offense. The defense, this year, is largely a liability. But Mike Mitchell has the hard-hitting, big-player character to make that One Big Play late in a game. Maybe even in Foxboro.
QB, Cardinals. Arizona believes it’s a Super Bowl caliber team that’s been interrupted by injury. Now their QB is healthy, and having a good-enough year that sportswriters are just starting to talk about him as an MVP candidate. Palmer doesn’t get the press, but on a given day he can torch your favorite team in the Playoffs.
HC, Patriots. The Patriots’ greatest secret weapon doesn’t suit up in pads and helmet. He’s Coach. He’s smarter than your coach. He may have sold his soul to the Devil. Some say the Super Bowl runs through Foxboro. We say it runs through Bill Belichek.
RB, Vikings. As far as the football press is concerned, the whole Vikings team might as well be in stealth mode. So might the killer year AP is having. But he remains a future first-round Hall of Famer who is – quietly – leading the NFL in rushing. Not all-time. Not-all 21st Century. THIS year.
QB Redskins. Kirk Cousins was supposed to be a liability. Instead, he’s becoming a secret weapon, ranked 7th in NFL in yards per completion and coming off 22-of-28 passes for 319 yards and 5TD against a Bills team that was supposed to be tough on defense. Add to that he’s going into free agency after this season.
QB, Seahawks. Football analysts don’t know what to make of him. He was just supposed to be a game manager. Now he’s hanging in the pocket and throwing 5 TD games. It wasn’t supposed to be! But it is. If you think your QB can win a QB war against the Seahawks, you might wanna think again.
Houston Texans. Nobody’s been talking about JJ Watt this year. That’s a bad sign. Remember who this guy IS. He might just have been playing possum, if another routine Pro Bowl year can be playing possum.
TE, Patriots. Gronk is no secret. But he’s gimpy, so no one talks about him much lately. But with the Patriots getting a bye week after the season, watch out if 87 really does get his wheels back under him.