Adrian Peterson and 5 Players Ready to Explode in Week 16
We've hit Week 16 of the 2012 NFL regular season, which means that some teams are making playoff plans while others are just playing out the string.
There are also a number of individual matters left to be resolved, including the race for Most Valuable Player and the assault on a number of individual records, including one that's stood for nearly three decades.
So, whether it's to keep their team in the playoff hunt, to make a play at football immortality or a little of both, here's a look at the handful of players who are set to tear up the gridiron this week.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
It may be a bit strange to say that Adrian Peterson is "ready to explode." If the second half of the season is any indication, the sixth-year pro has already exploded.
Peterson, who gashed the St. Louis Rams for 212 yards on the ground last week, has now topped 100 rushing yards in eight straight games and stands 294 yards away from breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105 rushing yards.
Standing between him and that record is the Houston Texans and their fifth-ranked run defense.
Get the feeling that they don't stand a chance?
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
Given Tony Romo's history in the month of December, it wouldn't be wrong to presume that when I say Romo is set to explode this week, it means in a down in flames fashion.
However, as strange as it may seem, I mean it in a good way.
The 10th-year veteran played well in a huge win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15, and with the Cowboys in must-win mode, Romo and the Dallas offense should come out firing in a matchup with the New Orleans Saints' 31st-ranked pass defense.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
The first time that the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers met this season, things did not go very well for Bengals wideout A.J. Green.
The second-year pro did catch an eight-yard touchdown pass against the Steelers back in Week 7, but that was Green's only reception of the night in a Steelers victory.
However, the absence of top cornerback Ike Taylor has been sorely missed by a Pittsburgh secondary that has been exposed the past two weeks, and if Taylor is sidelined again on Sunday, Green should have a field day in a game that could dash the Steelers' fading playoff chances.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions
The 2012 season has devolved into something of a nightmare for the Detroit Lions, but there has been at least one bright spot amongst the darkness of the Lions' six-game losing streak.
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson became the first player in NFL history to record back-to-back 1,600 yard seasons a week ago, and the 27-year-old now sits fewer than 200 yards back of Jerry Rice's single-season record for receiving yardage.
Given that "Megatron" has topped 100 yards in each of the last seven games, that record seems well within reach, and Johnson's assault on the record books will continue Saturday night against an Atlanta secondary that ranks in the middle of the pack against the pass.
Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots
Week 15 was a game best forgotten for New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley, as an early fumble in the loss to the San Francisco 49ers landed the second-year pro in head coach Bill Belichick's doghouse and rendered him a complete non-factor for the rest of the game.
That loss leaves the Patriots in scramble mode this week, as the team must win out and hope for a Denver Broncos loss if New England is going to lock up a first-round bye for the postseason.
Luckily for the Pats, they draw a horrendous Jacksonville Jaguars team this week, and New England should pound away on the ground against a league-worst Jacksonville run defense that allows nearly 150 yards a game.