NFL Playoffs: 5 Players Who Will Disappoint in Divisional Round
We witnessed some fantastic performances in the first round of the postseason.
Several players were able to step up and carry their teams to victory, while others disappointed. Even the most elite players can have bad games during the most important times of the season.
With the Divisional Round starting tomorrow, we will have another chance to see which players are able to take their games to the next level. Whether it is a quarterback or a defensive player, this is the kind of performance you look for from your clutch players.
However, there are those who will disappoint.
For whatever reason, there will be players that can't live up to expectations. It may be due to the pressure of the postseason or simply because they ran in to a bad matchup. Nevertheless, it isn't what their team is looking for out of them.
Here are five players who will disappoint in the Divisional Round.
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Joe Flacco has tried very hard to separate himself from the label of a game manager.
Flacco has a strong arm and isn't afraid to throw the ball down field. He has put up some solid numbers in his short career, but this was the first season where his statistics didn't improve.
The Ravens still put together a great season, capturing the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs and they are now set to take on the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round.
This game will be a rematch of their Week 6 showdown in which the Ravens won 29-14. Still, Flacco's performance in the game was underwhelming. He went 20-for-33 with 305 yards and one interception.
He did sneak one in to the end zone on the ground, even though he had negatives rushing yards.
Houston brings the third-ranked passing defense into this rematch, and you can be sure Flacco will be facing similar pressures.
I believe the Ravens may still win this one, but it won't be due to a great Joe Flacco performance.
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Ahmad Bradshaw is one half of the New York Giants' dangerous two-man rushing attack.
The other half is Brandon Jacobs. Bradshaw was the leading rusher for the Giants this year, as well as leading in carries and touchdowns.
He will head into the Giants' Divisional Round game against the Green Bay Packers battling a foot injury he has been dealing with since November, as well as a back injury. Bradshaw missed practice on Thursday, but this hasn't been uncommon for him since he hurt his foot earlier in the year.
Still, Bradshaw struggled the last time he faced the Packers, as he only put up 38 yards rushing on 11 carries. Jacobs put together a much better game, rushing for 59 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries.
With the Giants having to matchup with the Packers high-scoring offense and Bradshaw's lingering injuries, I see him having a rough game this weekend. He'll play and get his share of the touches, but I believe that Jacobs will end up being the back that has a much bigger impact on the game.
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Now, don't misunderstand me on this one. I don't believe that anyone is expecting Alex Smith to put up Brees-esque numbers against the New Orleans Saints this weekend.
It isn't who he is as a quarterback, and it isn't his role on that team. With that being said, I believe that playing an elite offense like the Saints will expose the flaws in San Francisco's offense.
The San Francisco 49ers have been one of my favorite stories all year long. Jim Harbaugh comes in, taking over as the head coach and turns the team in to one of the best squads in the NFC. He saves Alex Smith's career and makes that young defense elite.
San Francisco's run defense was the top-ranked unit in the league this year. However, their passing defense was in the middle of the pack in terms of yardage. While that doesn't determine everything about a defense, but it matters when you are playing Drew Brees.
I see the Saints moving the ball through the air like they do against most of their opponents and building a lead early.
I don't believe Smith will disappoint because of a bad game, but simply because he will be forced out of his game manager role and asked to do more than he can.
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Greg Jennings missed the final three games of the season with a tear in his MCL.
He is currently on track to return this weekend for a rematch with the New York Giants. Jennings was the second best receiver on the Packers this year, taking a backseat to Jordy Nelson, who had a breakout year.
Jennings is still a crucial part of the Packers' passing attack.
However, coming off of a knee injury as a receiver is going to be an impact. Jennings is going to be thrown in to a high-intensity game after not seeing full-speed action for several weeks. While he is certainly used to this kind of environment from years past, I don't believe he will have the impact many expect him to this weekend.
Jennings will certainly play and receive targets from Aaron Rodgers. I'm sure the Giants will treat him with the respect of a top-level receiver, but I don't believe his statistics will match that label.
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As amazing of a story as Tim Tebow's 2011 season is, I see that magic coming to a swift end this weekend.
Tebow and his Denver Broncos will travel to New England to take on Tom Brady and his Patriots. These two teams met already this year Week 15, and the New England Patriots stomped the Broncos 41-23.
The Broncos are arguably coming into this second meeting with more momentum after pulling off the dramatic upset against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the playoffs. As exciting as that was, it doesn't change the fact that the Patriots are a terrible matchup for the Broncos.
I see this game going down similarly to how the first meeting did.
Denver will look sharp as long as they are able to run the ball on the Patriots defense and limit Brady on offense. However, I don't believe that the Broncos defense is good enough to contain that offense all game long. As soon as New England begins to score and Tebow is forced to throw, the lead will widen.
I like Tebow. I think he is an exciting player and a great guy to have in the NFL.
However, he just isn't polished as a passer yet. He has plenty of room for growth, but asking him to keep up with Tom Brady is setting him up to disappoint.