NFL

10 Players Heating Up for a Super Bowl Run

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IDecember 31, 2013

10 Players Heating Up for a Super Bowl Run

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    With the NFL playoff picture finalized, it's time to look ahead and see which teams are poised to potentially make a Super Bowl run.

    You can find early Super Bowl odds here. But in the NFL, a single player can get hot and carry a team in the pursuit of reaching a Super Bowl.

    These ten players have been heating up at the end of the season and are hitting their strides at just the right the time.

    Here are 10 players heating up for a Super Bowl run.

LeSean McCoy

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Season Stats: 1,607 rush yards, 52 receptions, 539 receiving yards, 11 total TDs

    McCoy finished the season as the league leader in rushing yards, all-purpose yards, and yards from scrimmage.

    He also helped the Eagles push into the playoffs with big wins over Dallas and Chicago in the final two weeks of the season. He had 131 rushing yards against the Cowboys, and 133 rushing yards and two scores against the Bears.

    McCoy is one of the best players in the NFL right now, and will be the focal point of Chip Kelly's high-powered offense in the playoffs which opponents will not want to play against.

Colin Kaepernick

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Season Stats: 3,197 yards, 21 TDs, 8 INTs, 524 rush yards, 4 rush TDs

    Kaepernick cooled off a bit in the middle of this season, but re-emerged down the final stretch as a legitimate weapon and leader of San Francisco's offense.

    The 49ers won their last six games of the season, and Kaepernick threw 10 touchdowns with just one interception during that stretch. If continues taking care of the ball in the playoffs like that, the 49ers will be a tough team to beat.

A.J. Green

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Season Stats: 98 receptions, 1,426 yards, 11 TDs

    Green helped lead the Bengals to the division title this year, and cemented himself as one of the premier wideouts in the league.

    Cincinnati's best player needs to dominate in order for them to make a run in the playoffs, and with 11 catches and three touchdowns in the team's final two games, Green is going in with a lot of momentum.

Peyton Manning

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Season Stats: 5,477 yards, 55 TDs, 10 INTs

    Manning had arguably the best season for a quarterback in NFL history, but he needs to continue on his torrid pace for the Broncos to advance in the playoffs.

    Even with the playoffs locked up, Manning still dominated at the end of the season. He threw for 666 yards and eight touchdowns with no interceptions in the last two games of the year. When he's commanding the offense like that, the Broncos are very difficult to slow down.

     

Luke Kuechly

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Season Stats: 164 tackles, 1 sack, 3 FRs, 2 INTs, 11 STFs,

    In his second year in the league, Kuechly cemented himself as one of the best defensive players in the league and really got better as the season went on.

    The middle linebacker helped the Panthers win their division for the first time since 2008 by winning 11 of their final 12 games.

    In the last game of the year, Kuechly had a solid 10-tackle performance. But in the week prior, he registered an interception along with an unbelievable 24 tackles, tied for the most in a game since 1994. When Kuechly dominates like that, the Panthers are a very dangerous team and could make a Super Bowl push.

Jamaal Charles

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Season Stats: 1,287 rush yards, 70 receptions, 693 receiving yards, 19 total TDs

    The Chiefs rested all of their starters for their final game of the season against the Chargers because they had nothing to gain or lose from the outcome.

    But Charles had been playing extremely well in the month prior to that game, scoring six touchdowns in the five contests before Week 17. He also had 359 total yards in Weeks 15 and 16 combined.

    The Chiefs don't have any high-powered scheme or passing attack, but Charles is talented enough to carry them when he's running well. If he keeps on his end-of-season pace, opponents should be worried. 

Demaryius Thomas

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    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Season Stats: 92 receptions, 1,430 yards, 14 TDs

    Thomas is the primary weapon in the league's most potent aerial attack, and has done his fair share in carrying the Broncos alongside Peyton Manning.

    He's extremely fast and athletic, and at 6'3", Thomas also has the size to make an impact on every drive. In the past two games of the season, Thomas had 14 catches, 236 yards and three touchdowns to head into the playoffs on a high note.

    As they showed down the stretch, Manning and Thomas are nearly unstoppable when they are clicking. That's a scary sight for their future playoff opponents.

Mychal Kendricks

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Season Stats: 106 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 FFs, 4 FRs, 3 INTs, 6 STFs

    This may be a bit of an out-of-nowhere pick, but Kendricks quietly had a breakout season for the Eagles in leading them to a division title. The second-year linebacker wreaked havoc on offenses all year, forcing turnovers and stopping offensive players in their tracks. 

    In Philadelphia's final three games, Kendricks had 25 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and three stuffs. He's been nothing short of spectacular down the stretch, and is ready to lead the Eagles on a playoff run.

Jordy Nelson

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Season Stats: 85 receptions, 1,314 yards, 8 TDs

    Nelson had a bit of an up-and-down year, and the loss of Randall Cobb and Aaron Rodgers certainly hurt his production in the second half of the season.

    But in a win-or-go-home matchup with Chicago, Nelson took advantage of the return of both Cobb and Rodgers. He tortured the Bears' secondary all day, finishing with 10 catches for 164 yards.

    The criminally underrated receiver showed what he can do with his offense at full strength, and will be the Packers' X-factor in making a Super Bowl run.

     

Richard Sherman

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Season Stats: 49 tackles, 8 INTs, 16 PDs, 1 TD

    As the best player on one of the best defenses in the league, Sherman has a lot of hype and responsibility to live up to. He's a big reason Seattle is looked at as a favorite to win the Super Bowl.

    The third-year cornerback is outspoken and agitating on the field, but consistently backs up his big mouth with outstanding play.

    Sherman had two interceptions in both Week 15 and 16. Quarterbacks dread facing a talented corner who is locked in, and Sherman certainly seems as if he's heating up in preparation for a Super Bowl run.

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