NFL Week 6: 5 Players Who Must Carry Their Teams to Wins
It's time to put up or shut up in the NFL. Week 6 is rolling around, which means the good teams have begun to separate from the bad. We know who the contenders are, we know who's on the outside looking in. All that is left to decide is which team wants it the most.
This is the part of the year where the competition is fiercest and the intensity is highest. In order to win, the stars must come out to play and they must play well.
The five players listed here are as critical to their team's success as any player in the league. If they want to sniff the playoffs in 2012, a superb performance is required in Week 6.
In short, these players must carry their teams or risk falling out of the spotlight for the rest of the year.
Robert Griffin III
The Washington Redskins enter Week 6 with a deceptive 2-3 record. This team could be 4-1 if it had simply made the right plays down the stretch.
Things are a little more complicated now that Robert Griffin III has suffered his first major NFL injury. RGIII is expected back on the field against a very good Minnesota defense, and he will have to be at his very best to lead the Redskins to victory.
The Vikings are 4-1 and have proven the to the doubters that they are for real. They are a very good team and will be favored against Washington.
It's up to RGIII to carry the Skins. He'll be chased around and he will face a lot of adversity, but if he can't find a way to pull through, the Redskins won't win.
If the Redskins fall to 2-4, their only realistic hope of making the playoffs is to go 8-2 for the rest of the year. Washington must win this game, and RGIII will have to be the man of the hour.
Are the Seattle Seahawks for real? That's the question on everyone's lips as the New England Patriots rumble into CenturyLink Field for a great matchup with the boys in blue.
The Seahawks' defense is definitely for real, and it's given opponents fits all season. The real question is the offense, led by rookie QB Russell Wilson. Wilson has been below average so far in 2012, and he certainly can't win a game by himself at this stage of his career.
Therefore, the onus falls on RB Marshawn Lynch to carry the team. Lynch is one of the best running backs in football, employing a punishing running style and breaking more tackles than should be humanly possible. The guy is a freak of nature. We all remember the playoff game against New Orleans in 2010 when he literally carried the Seahawks to the second round.
Against a vaunted Patriots offense, the Seahawks' only hope may be keeping Tom Brady and company off the field for as long as possible. This means that Lynch must run for first downs and limit negative plays. He must keep the defense honest so that Wilson can find a lane for the play-action pass.
If Lynch fails to do that, the Seahawks will lose. It's all about his performance this week.
In my opinion, LeSean McCoy is the best running back in football from a talent perspective. No one can match his combination of speed and hole recognition, as well as his ability to catch the ball. The young back is a superb player.
He also might be the league's biggest waste of a good thing. The Eagles, for some odd reason, are centered around the passing game. Michael Vick is a capable quarterback, but he turns the ball over too much and isn't consistent. With a weapon like McCoy, why don't the Eagles run the ball more?
It's beyond me. But if the Eagles want to win on Sunday, they'll have to turn to their guy in the backfield. Nearly 31 other teams would kill to have the opportunity to employ Shady McCoy, and the Eagles are the lucky ones. It's time they finally put their star in a position to carry the team.
Philly's biggest issue is turnovers, specifically from Michael Vick. What's the easiest way to change that? Hand the ball off, of course. McCoy can eat up the clock and rip off big chunks of yardage.
It's your call Philadelphia. Because your only hope of winning this week is if you let LeSean McCoy carry the offense.
The Rams won two games last season. Two. They were terrible.
But so far in 2012, they seem to be much improved. And no secondary in the league has improved as much as St. Louis' has.
This is due in large part because of the play of Cortland Finnegan, who may be the best player on the team. Finnegan is near the team lead in tackles and leads in interceptions, and he has a knack for getting under the opposing wide receiver's skin and taking him out of the game.
The Rams face the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Finnegan will be matched up against Brian Hartline, one of the leading receivers in the NFL. If the Rams want to have any hope of beating an improved Dolphins team, Finnegan must win the matchup. The game might depend on it. If rookie QB Ryan Tannehill has no one to throw to, how could the Rams lose?
It's up to Finnegan to carry the team to a win on Sunday and keep them in the hunt, in what has become arguably the best division in football.
If it's not asking too much, it looks like Andrew Luck will have to carry the Colts on Sunday—for the second week in a row.
Luck's performance against the Green Bay Packers was the stuff of legend, something that Luck will remember as his first great moment in pro football. He led his team on a huge comeback, beating the Packers following a week of hardship when head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia.
It doesn't get easier for the Colts. This week pits them against the struggling-but-talented New York Jets and a secondary that is still decent despite the loss of Darrelle Revis. The Colts have very little talent, so it's very important for Luck to play well.
The Colts could be a surprise playoff contender this year. If they are, it would be nothing short of extraordinary. There are only a few players on this team that require any sort of game planning, and it would be remarkable if Luck could push through and get them in the postseason.
Of course, it all comes down to the rookie under center. More than anybody, Luck has to carry his team, no matter how hard it gets.
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