NFL Playoff Predictions: Underrated Players Who Will Shine in Divisional Round

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 01: Morgan Burnett #42 and Charlie Peprah #26 of the Green Bay Packers celebrate a win over the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on January 1, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 45-41. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Superstars may get all of the attention, but no matter which one of them you asked, they'd all point to the often-overlooked members of a team's roster as the keys to their team's success.

None of these players are going to be challenging any NFL records, nor are they heading to enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Where they are headed, however, is into the forefront of the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs, as their individual performances will play a big role in their respective teams moving one step closer to playing in Super Bowl XLVII.


Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Atlanta Falcons

The diminutive running back emerged as a legitimate pass-catching threat out of Atlanta's backfield this season, and that ability is going to be a big reason why Atlanta ends the Cinderella story that has been the Seattle Seahawks season on Sunday afternoon.

With Seattle's secondary having its hands full trying to contain Roddy White and Julio Jones and its linebackers having to deal with the legendary Tony Gonzalez, Rodgers will find himself with space to make a play as he emerges from the backfield.

Matt Ryan can deliver the football to a target as quickly as anyone in the game, and that quick-strike ability—coupled with Rodgers speed and agility—will lead to Rodgers being able to make a move and take off down the field.

He'll only have a handful of receptions on the day, but those receptions will go for big gains.


Jacob Tamme, TE, Denver Broncos

Picking up where they left off in Indianapolis back in 2010, Jacob Tamme has re-emerged as one of Peyton Manning's go-to guys in the Denver passing game.

His speed and ability to stretch out for the ball makes him a difficult matchup for opposing defenders, and Manning is one of the best at exploiting mismatches in the passing game.

While Baltimore was able to keep Indianapolis out of the end zone in its Wild Card game, the Colts had success throwing to their tight ends, completing seven passes for 76 yards.

Tamme, Denver's third-leading receiver, will eclipse those numbers when the Ravens and Broncos meet on Saturday afternoon.


Morgan Burnett, S, Green Bay Packers

Green Bay's leading tackler during the regular season, Morgan Burnett, had only three tackles in the Packer's 24-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Wild Card Weekend.

He'll be asked to do far more against the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night, more along the lines of his seven-tackle performance against the 49ers in the opening week of the regular season.

With Charles Woodson back in the middle of the field alongside him—and a formidable quarterback in Colin Kaepernick opposing the Packers—Burnett will be one of the keys on the defensive side of the ball as Green Bay advances to the NFC Championship Game.

Double-digit tackles and an interception aren't crazy numbers to expect from this talented safety.