Rob Gronkowski and the 4 Biggest Game-Changers in the NFL Today
This list has had quite a few changes since the start of the season. But such is the nature of the NFL. A guy is hot one season and the next he's Chris Johnson. Even if he was healthy, Mike Vick probably wouldn't be on here, considering the sample size of performance we have seen so far.
But more fun than focusing on the disappointments is sizing up the new forces of nature descending on the league, while contrasting them with the ones who have been the picture of consistency.
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A rushing touchdown? When I saw that Rob Gronkowski, a tight end, had notched one today, I first thought my vision was going bad. Then I remembered Bill Belichick is his coach and no play is off the books.
But more importantly, it rounded out a ridiculous stat line (two more touchdowns through the air) for one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this year. Gronkowski has been, for lack of a better word, unstoppable.
How he isn't blanketed around the endzone is a little baffling. Until he is, he'll continue being the league's biggest touchdown threat.
Peyton Manning's Neck
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I don't think anyone thought the Colts would be this bad. It's hard to overstate how poor this team looks now without their signal-caller and, effectively, offensive coordinator.
This injury started as a weird grumbling, something Manning would have to deal with eventually but wouldn't be that big a deal, and has grown into one of the most devastating injuries in any franchise's history.
Big players go down for teams all the time, but not in recent memory has the effects of an injury been so stark.
Coming into today the Colts are averaging 13.6 points per game. Last year with roughly the same team? 27.2.
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Special teams are getting used to this view of Hester.
At this point there is a very simple mathematical equation that goes with punting to him. If you do, you = moron.
It's that simple.
No matter what coverage a team throws on him, he's still a threat to take it for six. With him back there, punters effectively must practice how to punt out of bounds.
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Until defenses make Newton pass the ball, he's going to keep slicing the field with his legs. Why Newton isn't being spied on every play is a little shocking. Who is he going to throw it to besides Steve Smith? Brandon LaFell?
Simply put, I don't think he'll keep this up. The NFL has proved, repeatedly, that simply being a great athlete doesn't make you a great quarterback—but until it does, Newton will continue to be a ridiculous force of nature.
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Do Packers fans even remember Brett Favre anymore?
They went from dating a decently cute girl that had a bad habit of ruining a good party with reckless behavior, to a supermodel that not only manages to be the most fun person at any party, but somehow stays sober enough to drive everyone home safely.
Maybe he doesn't perfectly fit the "game-changer" title like these other guys, but you can't have a list like this and not include the best player in football.