In recent years, the Super Bowl winner has been the team that has gotten hot at the right time. The slate of games in Week 16 will feature several superstars trying to provide a spark with another standout performance.
Last season, the New York Giants went on a four-game losing streak that lasted into December before Eli Manning started an incredible stretch of clutch performances.
In the previous year, Aaron Rodgers emerged as the NFL’s best quarterback late in the season and led the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl.
Here are the players who will continue playing extremely well in Week 16 as they give their teams momentum heading into the playoffs.
J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Watt was a nightmare for the Indianapolis Colts this past weekend, and he will cause similar problems for the Minnesota Vikings.
He tormented Andrew Luck and the Colts with six tackles for a loss and three sacks. This week, he will be tasked with stopping another red-hot star.
Adrian Peterson has shocked the NFL with his remarkably impressive season coming off a horrific knee injury at the end of last year. Houston’s defensive game plan will be entirely focused on No. 28, and the Texans have the talent to hold Peterson to a relatively modest performance.
Watt will lead the charge against Peterson, and this will allow Houston to build a comfortable lead. Once Minnesota is forced to throw to catch up, the Defensive Player of the Year candidate will enjoy teeing off on Christian Ponder.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
There are plenty of similarities between Green Bay’s 2010 season and its 2012 campaign. The team has battled through key injuries, it is getting healthy at the right time and it is carrying a significant amount of momentum into the postseason.
One big difference between this year and the Super Bowl run is that Aaron Rodgers is even better than he was two seasons ago.
He tossed three touchdown passes against the Chicago Bears this past week in order to lead a victory and clinch the NFC North.
Against the Tennessee Titans this week, do not expect Rodgers to take his foot off the gas pedal. He will want his offense to be sharp and focused for its first playoff game in order to avoid postseason disappointment for a second consecutive year.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons still have plenty of doubters due to their inability to win in the postseason in the last two years, but many of them were silenced this past weekend after a 34-0 rout over the New York Giants.
Matt Ryan turned in a remarkable performance, completing 23 of 28 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns.
This week, Ryan will take on a struggling Detroit Lions team that is coming off a blowout loss to the lowly Arizona Cardinals.
Ryan will be looking to prove this January that he is an elite quarterback who can win in the playoffs. If he fails to make this point, it will not be because of a lack of momentum and he will torch the Lions secondary in this Week 16 matchup.