Tim Tebow and the Most Intriguing Players of the the 2012 NFL Playoffs
After momentarily electrifying the NFL, the Tim Tebow train has come to a screeching halt in recent weeks. Three straight losses going into the playoffs has most analysts forecasting a one-and-done appearance for the Denver Broncos.
Still, Tebow has the attention of every fan, analyst and even player. When he plays, people watch. That makes him the most intriguing player in the 2012 NFL playoffs.
Every team, though, has its own intriguing stories and players as they head into the playoffs. Here is each playoff team's most intriguing player.
Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green
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Green was mostly quiet in the Bengals' Week 14 loss against Houston, and for the Bengals to win Round 2, Green will need to be a big part of the offense.
Green has been exciting to watch all year, and he should continue to be entertaining in the playoffs. His performance will play a huge role in whether the Bengals can avenge their Week 14 loss.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger
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After injuring his ankle against the Browns Week 14, Roethlisberger just didn't look the same. He was unable to improvise outside the pocket—like usual—and the offense suffered as a result.
If Roethlisberger's injury limits his mobility, the Steelers will have trouble scoring, and they could struggle to advance in the playoffs.
Denver Broncos: Tim Tebow
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As Tim Tebow goes, the Broncos will go.
As good as the Broncos' defense has been, they will still need to score points. With Tebow at quarterback, points have been hard to come by for the Denver offense.
Still, Tebow has proven capable of taking over games in the fourth quarter, and if he can pull out some of that magic in the playoffs, the Broncos could shock the Steelers.
Houston Texans: Arian Foster
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For the Houston Texans' first playoff game in franchise history, they will be starting a third string, rookie quarterback. It's a safe assumption that the Texans will be running the ball often against the Bengals.
This shouldn't be a problem, though, as the Texans have perhaps the best running game in the entire NFL. The combo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate has been absolutely deadly, and Foster is capable of willing the Texans to victory.
If Foster can carry the offense, the Texans should find success against the Bengals, but if the Bengals are able to slow him down, the Texans will struggle.
Baltimore Ravens: Terrell Suggs
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Suggs has gained prominence recently for his comments on Tim Tebow, but Suggs' play has always spoken louder than his words.
Suggs is a leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, and when he is on his game, the Ravens' defense is thrilling to watch. He gives the defense a swarming personality that feasts on offensive lines.
Whoever the Ravens play in the divisional round of the playoffs, Suggs will be a key part of their defensive effort. He should stick out both through his play and through his eccentric personality.
New England Patriots: Tom Brady
Brady is quite possibly the best quarterback in the NFL, and if he can guide the Patriots to another championship, he will be mentioned as perhaps the greatest quarterback to ever play.
After a long drought of playoff success, Brady needs a good performance in the 2012 playoffs to cement his place in history.
Detroit Lions: Calvin Johnson
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Calvin Johnson is the kind of talent that is capable of taking over an entire game on his own. The Lions will be facing the Saints' high-octane offense, so a shootout is inevitable.
For the Lions to keep up with the Saints' scoring, the Stafford-Johnson connection will need to be strong. Expect Johnson to make at least one highlight reel catch.
Atlanta Falcons: Tony Gonzalez
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He is, by most accounts, the best tight end in NFL history, but Tony Gonzalez has never won a playoff game.
This may be his last chance. The Falcons have a great offense and a solid defense, and they have a great chance to move on in the playoffs.
Tony Gonzalez is a great player and a class act, but he's in the twilight of his career. He deserves a taste of playoff success.
New York Giants: Victor Cruz
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Is Victor Cruz a supernova or a genuine star? His success in the playoffs should go a long way in answering this question.
Cruz has been absolutely stellar this year for the Giants, and when he makes big plays, the Giants always have a chance. Still, Cruz is unproven on the biggest of stages, and it remains to be seen whether he will rise to the occasional or falter.
If he continues to dominate, the Giants' offense should find great success against the Falcons. A big play from Cruz could be the deciding factor in what should be a close game.
New Orleans Saints: Jonathan Vilma
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As the emotional leader of the Saints' defense, Vilma has been a Godsend for both the Saints and the city of New Orleans.
The Saints' defense has played at a very high level in recent weeks, and they will have their hands full against the Lions' passing attack. Vilma will have the Saints' defense playing with fire and passion, but will that be enough against an elite offense?
Vilma is a great player and a great leader, and his contributions to the Saints' defense could be the difference between a win and a loss.
San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Rogers
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Regardless of how the Wild Card round plays out, the 49ers will be playing an elite passing offense. Whether they end up playing the Giants, the Falcons or the Saints, the 49ers will certainly be facing one of the best receivers in the NFL.
Rogers will be tasked with taking on that receiver. Victor Cruz, Roddy White and Marques Colston have all had great seasons this year, but so has Carlos Rogers. The rules favor offense, but Rogers might just be talented enough to handle these receivers.
If the 49ers' defense can't contain the opposing offense, then they can forget about winning in the playoffs. If Rogers can shutdown the opposing receiver, though, the 49ers' offense should be able to score just enough points to move on in the playoffs.
Green Bay Packers: Jermichael Finley
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His unique blend of size and speed makes Finley a unique weapon for the Packers, but what makes him truly intriguing is his contract situation.
Finley might not be a Packer next year, and even if he is, he's still auditioning for a long term contract. That means that Finley is playing for a contract. He will be extra motivated to play his best football, and that should result in a big game from Finley.
Money is a powerful motivator, and after missing out on the Packers' playoff success last year, Finley will have a rare opportunity. Look for him to make big plays for the Packers throughout the playoffs.