Aaron Rodgers and 4 NFL Players Catching Fire Heading into the Playoffs
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Aaron Rodgers provided football fans with a vintage performance in the Green Bay Packers’ Week 16 throttling of the Tennessee Titans. The veteran passer completed 27-of-38 balls for 342 yards and three touchdowns while taking just one sack.
Rodgers’ passer rating in Week 16 was an impressive 125.1—but he didn’t stop there. He added four carries for 11 yards and a touchdown. Mr. Discount Double-Check has thrown for 633 yards, run for 25 more and accounted for seven total touchdowns without turning the ball over in his last two games.
He’s one of several offensive players that are revving up their yardage-churning engines at just the right time: the end of the regular season. Guys like Marshawn Lynch and Dez Bryant may be propelling their respective teams into the playoffs, and if they continue their current production, their squads will be a tough out in January.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
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Dez Bryant deserves at least a little credit for Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo’s numbers in the last couple of games. Romo has thrown for 758 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions in his last two games in part because of Bryant’s phenomenal play.
Early in the season, Bryant was culpable for some turnovers that were attributed to Romo. That hasn’t quite been the case lately: Bryant has scored at least one touchdown in seven consecutive games. In that time, he has gone for 808 receiving yards and 10 scores.
In Week 16’s overtime loss against the New Orleans Saints, he pulled down nine passes for a whopping 224 yards and two TDs.
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
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It took seven road games to do it, but Joe Flacco finally threw multiple touchdowns away from home in Week 14 against the Washington Redskins. The Baltimore Ravens lost that game, as well as their Week 15 home matchup with the Denver Broncos—when Flacco posted an abysmal 0.4 total QBR.
Facing a New York Giants team fighting for a playoff spot in the NFC, he turned that QBR around to a 94.4 in Week 16. Flacco threw for 309 yards and accounted for three total touchdowns in the Ravens’ rout of New York.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks
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Marshawn Lynch has been Beast Mode for a while, but the moniker’s popularity for the Seattle Seahawks’ tough runner was truly born in the playoffs.
This year, Lynch busted out his alter ego often in the regular season. He has accounted for seven touchdowns—including his first receiving score of the season—in the last four weeks as Seattle has absolutely blasted its opponents.
Against the Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills in Week 14 and Week 15, respectively, Lynch totaled just 21 carries because Seattle won by a combined margin of 91 points. With those carries, Beast Mode put 241 rushing yards and four scores on the board.
He added two more touchdowns in Week 16 against the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers at home.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
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Matt Ryan experienced a midseason slump from Week 11 to Week 13 against the Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints. Those three squads don’t necessarily boast top-notch defenses, but Ryan committed seven turnovers while accounting for just two touchdowns in that span.
The Atlanta Falcons went 3-0 anyway.
In Week 15 and Week 16 against the New York Giants and Detroit Lions, respectively, Ryan has again been making plays for his offense rather than the opposition’s defense. He threw for 549 yards and seven touchdowns in the two games, also running for 25 yards on two carries in Week 16, and did not turn the football over.