This late in the NFL season, the games are huge for those still in the playoff hunt, but some teams are trying to get a peek at what they have for 2013.
In Week 16, there are two situations that will create late-season heroes, and hot names heading into 2013. Here is a look at two players primed to shine in Week 16, and ready to plant seeds for next season.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
The Bears are on the road at the Arizona Cardinals in a must-win situation. One of the team's biggest issues this season has been finding a capable secondary passing target.
Brandon Marshall has 107 receptions, the rest of the receivers/tight ends have a combined 97. Someone has to step up for the Bears.
Jeffery is ready to do that.
We saw the beginnings of this in the second half of Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers. Jay Cutler starting going at the Packers' secondary, who were single-covering Jeffery. The rookie elicited a big defensive pass-interference call that should have led to a touchdown.
However, he also committed two costly offensive pass interference infractions, and was the victim of a brutal no-call late in the fourth quarter. Even with the miscues and the blown call by the officials, Jeffery was putting pressure on the Packers' defense.
If he doesn't get flagged for one of those penalties, or gets the call late in the game, the Bears could have easily beaten the Packers.
Against the Cardinals, the Bears should continue to look to use Jeffery as a home-run threat down the field. He could be a great complement to Marshall, and the duo could be lethal moving forward.
Jeffery will have his biggest game of the season on Sunday. He'll help to keep the Bears in the playoff hunt, and he and Marshall will go into 2013 as one of the better receiving tandems in the NFL.
Greg McElroy, New York Jets
The Jets' playoff hopes are done, but McElroy can at least give fans something to look forward to in 2013. Per ESPN, he is slated to start in the team's Week 16 home game against the San Diego Chargers.
Fortunately for McElroy, the Chargers haven't exactly been a stellar pass defense. This game is set up nicely for him to have success.
If McElroy shines, should the Jets draft a QB in the first round?
He isn't going to wow anyone with amazing physical gifts, but he makes good decisions, and his time at Alabama has taught him how to keep his team in games.
He doesn't turn the ball over often—he threw only 10 interceptions in 33 games in college. Obviously, this isn't Tuscaloosa, but there is no reason to believe McElroy has turned into an interception-throwing machine AKA Mark Sanchez.
In his brief time under center this season, he completed five-of-seven passes for a touchdown. The Jets won that game 7-6 over the Cardinals. It wasn't pretty, but it was a win nonetheless.
Look for McElroy to complete over 65 percent of his attempts, toss a touchdown pass, take care of the ball, and lead the Jets to victory.
Maybe the team still chases a veteran QB, and drafts a guy for the future, but McElroy will prove he isn't a bad failsafe.
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