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Joe Flacco and 4 NFL Players Imploding Down the Home Stretch

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2012

Joe Flacco and 4 NFL Players Imploding Down the Home Stretch

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    Joe Flacco has gotten worse as the Baltimore Ravens near the playoffs, and he's not the only superstar who's been tanking down the stretch.

    Players make their mark as elite players by playing their best when the going gets tough, but these players have struggled during the past month. Some still have time to put their best foot forward, but at least one plays for a team that has already fallen out of contention. 

    So, which players on contending teams have played their worst as the season nears an end? 

Andrew Luck

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    Before you head straight to the comments section to blast me, take a moment to hear me out. 

    We all know that Andrew Luck has a horribly inept offensive line that doesn't give him much room to breath in the pocket, but that doesn't excuse his his decision-making of late.

    Luck has simply made poor decisions with the football at times, and though he's made some remarkable comebacks, they're ones that shouldn't have been necessary.

    In the last five games, Luck has thrown 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He's brought his team back to win four of the last six thanks to some brilliant fourth quarter play, but there's no reason for him to be so careless with the ball. 

    Luck needs to make better decisions and learn how to minimize his mistakes. As good as he's been late in games, he won't have such good fortune in the playoffs against the Houston Texans and New England Patriots of the world. 

Doug Martin

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have tanked as a team down the home stretch, but rookie running back Doug Martin has really fallen flat as of late. 

    Besides the big game he had at home against the Philadelphia Eagles, Martin has really looked bad since running wild in Carolina against the Panthers in Week 11. 

    Even when you include his 128 yards in Week 14, Martin has averaged just 62.5 yards per contest. More disturbing than this is the fact that Martin was only able to rush for 16 yards on nine carries in Week 15 against the New Orleans Saints—the same team that has allowed over 152 yards per game in 2012. 

    Martin's drop off in production is a huge reason the Buccaneers have taken a step backwards at the end of the season—Josh Freeman's four interceptions against the Saints notwithstanding.

Jay Cutler

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    Jay Cutler hasn't been the same since the Houston Texans knocked him out of the game back in Week 11. 

    In Cutler's last five games—four of which the Bears lost—he's only had one good performance, which happened to be in a game they lost. During this stretch, Cutler has thrown five touchdowns and six interceptions, and he's completed less than 60 percent of his passes. 

    Cutler and the Bears have fallen out of playoff contention with their latest loss, and as well as many of the top teams in the NFC are playing lately, he may not get another chance to make it back in. 

Eli Manning

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    Where has the clutch gone?

    Eli Manning has been surprisingly human since Week 7, and though he's had a few big games here and there, any rational person would have to say his 2012 campaign has been a huge disappointment. 

    Since Week 7, Manning has thrown eight touchdowns and eight interceptions and the New York Giants have lost four out of seven games. 

    The Giants are officially out of the playoffs should the season end today, and with two weeks left, it's do or die time for the real Eli Manning to step up. 

Joe Flacco

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    Can we please stop with anything resembling, "Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback."

    He's not, and the gap between Flacco and the truly elite NFL quarterbacks is a mile wide. 

    He doesn't have the gaudy interception totals of Eli Manning or Jay Cutler, but his inaccuracy on the road and inability to make big plays when his team needs him the most continues to plague the Baltimore Ravens—a team that has lost its last three games. 

    That's not the kind of run you're looking for as the playoffs approach, and Flacco has thrown three crucial interceptions during this stretch—one per game. 

    Flacco is a solid quarterback who has phenomenal games at times, but he's trending the wrong way at the wrong time for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

     

    Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 and check out my weekly NFL picks at Pickfactor.com

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