NFL Playoffs 2013: Impact Players Who Need Great Championship Performance

Jeremy FuchsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 16, 2013

Tony Gonzalez
Tony GonzalezMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In order to advance to the Super Bowl, each of the final four teams remaining in the NFL Playoffs will need to have a lot of players step up and have great championship performances. Which players will step up?

While every player needs to be at their best, there are a few players in particular that really need to advance their game to a whole new level.

Read below to find out which players will do just that. 



Tony Gonzalez 

Tony Gonzalez is having another typically great season, but he'll need a really great championship game performance if the Falcons want to advance to the Super Bowl.

Gonzalez was solid against the Seattle Seahawks, catching six passes for 51 yards and one touchdown. He was pivotal in the final drive that led to a game-winning field goal.

For the Falcons to advance, they will need a big game from Gonzalez. The 49ers only give up 200.2 yards per game in the air and they have really good cornerbacks. Gonzalez will need to be effective working against Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. The Falcons don't have the best run game, so getting Gonzalez to open up the middle of the field would be really beneficial for Matt Ryan.

Gonzalez is looking to reach his first Super Bowl, so he'll have extra motivation. The Falcons will need it if they want to win. 



Michael Crabtree

Michael Crabtree has really emerged in recent weeks. Against the Green Bay Packers, he had nine catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns.

He seems to have a real connection with Colin Kaepernick. Since Kaepernick took over as starter, Crabtree is averaging almost 90 receiving yards a game.

That will need to continue against the Falcons. Asante Samuel is a top cover corner and since the Falcons will be focused on stopping the running ability of Colin Kaepernick, getting Crabtree involved will ease the pressure off of Kaepernick's legs.

Crabtree is an elite talent who is finally finding his own in the league and is poised for a huge championship game. 



Aaron Hernandez

Rob Gronkowski is out with an injury, so it is up to Aaron Hernandez to pick up the slack. 

Hernandez has battled injuries and is still a bit banged up now. But, he's starting to show his old form. Last week against Houston, he caught six passes for 85 yards.

If Hernandez can at least make up for the production and impact that Gronkowski has, then the Patriots stand a good chance at winning. But if not, then it might be a struggle. 



Cary Williams

Cary Williams will be Baltimore's answer to defending Wes Welker. They'll need Williams to play his best game ever.

Welker is playing some of the best football of his career. He caught eight passes for 131 yards against the Houston Texans in their playoff game and was a force throughout the game. On the season, he finished second in the league in receptions, and eighth in receiving yards.

It might be a tall task for Williams, seeing as he gave up 121 yards on 10 receptions when he faced the Patriots in September.

But they need Williams to stop, or at least slow down, Welker. If the Ravens can do that, they'll have a good chance at winning.