The 2011 NFL postseason started last weekend with the Wild Card Round. This weekend the Divisional Round is on tap to see which teams will make it to the final four and to their respective Conference Championship Games.
Every postseason we seem to see a receiver who is as productive as Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers was last postseason, when the sixth-seeded Packers won three straight games on the road and won Super Bowl XLV.
In those four games, Jennings had 21 receptions for 303 yards and two TDs. Jennings saved his best for last, as he scored those two touchdowns in Super Bowl XLV.
So, who will be this postseason's Greg Jennings? To me, the answer has to be a receiver whose team is expected to get to Super Bowl XLVI. Right now, I expect the Packers and New England Patriots to be the two teams that will face off on February 5th in Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLVI.
Therefore, I am going to list some candidates from both of those squads that have a chance to make as much noise catching the ball as Jennings did last postseason. This will include Jennings himself again.
Before the injury, Jennings had an excellent season in 2011 which saw him get selected to the Pro Bowl for the second time. Jennings had 67 receptions for 949 yards and nine TDs before he hurt his knee.
Having Jennings healthy for the postseason this year is a big plus for the Packers, as Jennings is as clutch as they come in the playoffs. Overall in the postseason in his career, Jennings has 36 receptions for 518 yards and has five TDs.
Jordy Nelson actually WAS just as productive last postseason as Jennings. Both had 21 receptions and scored two TDs. Jennings had 303 yards receiving, while Nelson had 286. Both had huge games in Super Bowl XLV as well.
In that game vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, Nelson had nine catches for 140 yards and one TD.
Nelson has carried over his production from last postseason to the 2011 regular season. Nelson had 68 receptions for 1,263 yards, an excellent 18.6 yards per catch average and also a whopping 15 TDs. Nelson was named as an alternate for the Pro Bowl after putting up those numbers.
Jermichael Finley didn't play last postseason due to a knee injury which put him on IR. But in the 2009 postseason, Finley had a monster game against the Arizona Cardinals. In that game, Finley had six receptions for 159 yards and an unbelievable 26.5 yards per catch average.
In the 2011 regular season, there are some that feel that Finley has underachieved and dropped too many passes. They are probably correct. Still, Finley has stayed healthy and he did put up decent numbers.
For the 2011 season, Finley had 55 receptions for 767 yards and eight TDs.
Wes Welker had a fabulous season in 2011, and I expect that to continue in the postseason. For the 2011 season, Welker had 122 catches for 1,569 yards and nine TDs. That type of production put Welker in the Pro Bowl for the fourth time.
In the past five seasons with the Patriots, Welker has an unreal total of 554 receptions for 6,105 yards and 31 TDs.
The Patriots have not won a postseason game since the 2007 postseason, when they were 18-0 and going for an undefeated season. The Pats lost to the New York Giants 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII, but Welker had another nice game, as he had 11 catches for 103 yards.
Rob Gronkowski had a monster season in 2011 and is the biggest red zone threat that the Patriots possess, no doubt.
For the season, Gronkowski had 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and a fantasy football player's delight of having scored 18 TDs (17 receiving and one rushing). That led to a Pro Bowl selection.
Gronkowski had 10 TD receptions in 2010 as well, so QB Tom Brady loves going to his big TE when scoring opportunities arise.
Both the Packers and the Patriots have a wide variety of weapons that can be used in any given game from a receiving standpoint. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady use all their weaponry, which includes wide receivers, tight ends and the running backs.
Besides Jennings, Nelson and Finley, the QB Rodgers also can utilize receivers like James Jones and Donald Driver.
The 2010 postseason was a good example. Jennings and Nelson each had 21 receptions and two TDs. Jones had 11 catches and two TDs, while Driver had 14 receptions.
Both have been clutch down the stretch in the 2011 regular season. Overall, Jones had 38 receptions for 635 yards and seven TDs. In the last two games of the regular season, Jones had 10 catches for two TDs.
Driver didn't put up the numbers that he used to put up throughout his illustrious career, but he still had 37 receptions for 445 yards and six TDs. In the last five games of the regular season though, Driver had 14 catches for 197 yards and four TDs.
Brady also has a couple of other receivers he can look to as well. One is TE Aaron Hernandez, who had 79 catches for 910 yards and had seven TDs. Another weapon is Deion Branch, who had 51 receptions for 702 yards and five TDs. Branch is also a former Super Bowl MVP, when he had a stellar performance in Super Bowl XXXIX, as he had 11 catches for 133 yards.
Bottom line, I expect both the Packers and Patriots to take full advantage of being the No. 1 seeds in both of their respective conferences and to advance to Super Bowl XLVI.
Rodgers and Brady have both been past Super Bowl MVPs—Brady was MVP twice actually. Both quarterbacks have an assortment of talented receivers to carve up opposing defenses with.
The Patriots were second in the NFL in 2011 in total passing offense. The Packers were third. In pass defense, the Patriots were ranked 31st, while the Packers were ranked 32nd.
Ironically however, the Packers led the NFL with 31 interceptions, while the Patriots were tied for second with 23.
If indeed the Packers and Patriots meet in Super Bowl XLVI, it looks to be one hell of a game, with a number of very talented players participating in it. It's one game I can't wait to see, that's for sure.