Heading into the Divisional Round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs, the remaining teams will look to have their stars give them the chance to advance to the Conference Championship. But when those stars falter, they’ll be in big trouble.
Throughout the season, many players have risen to the occasion to get their respective this far in the postseason. Although their track records may suggest success as the playoffs continue, that may not always be the case.
So which stars will shine on Saturday and Sunday and which will cost their team a chance to play next weekend? Let’s a take a look at who’s bound to be a bust come this weekend.
Ray Rice, Running Back, Baltimore Ravens
Matchup: Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos
Date: Saturday, January 12, 4:30 p.m. ET
TV Information: CBS
Why He’s a Bust: The Denver Broncos have the third-best run defense in the NFL and Ray Rice is going to have a tough time finding holes to run through (via ESPN). Despite another 1,000-yard year for the Ravens speedster, he struggled against the Broncos earlier this season. Rice was only able to gain 38 yards on 12 carries in Baltimore’s Week 15 loss against Denver at home.
If Rice doesn’t run for big yards this time around, the game will fall into the hands of Joe Flacco—which is exactly what the Broncos want. Odds are the Flacco also struggles against the Denver secondary. Baltimore needs Rice to carry them to the AFC Conference Championship, but that won’t end up happening.
Matt Schaub, Quarterback, Houston Texans
Matchup: Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
Date: Sunday, January 13. 4:30 p.m. ET
TV Information: CBS
Why He’s a Bust: Going up against the New England Patriots defense, one would think that the Houston Texans would be able to have a field day. New England allowed the fourth-most passing yards in the NFL this season (via ESPN), but when Houston traveled to New England, Matt Schaub wasn’t very effective. Schaub completed 19-of-32 passes for 232 yards and threw one interception—a QBR of 19.1.
The Texans may give the ball to Arian Foster more often this time around, looking for a different result, but Schaub is still going to have to make plays. Whether it’s play-action passes or just regular throws under center, the run game of Houston won’t be effective without a couple of pass plays. Schaub crumbled down the stretch and it wouldn’t be shocking to see it happen once more.
Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers
Matchup: Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers
Date: Saturday, January 12, 8:00 p.m. ET
TV Information: FOX
Why He’s a Bust: The Green Bay Packers have a relatively average defense statistics-wise, but even Colin Kaepernick knows that they are extremely dangerous. Green Bay may have fallen to San Francisco in Week 1, but that was won by Alex Smith and not Kaepernick. Kaepernick has yet to see the Packers defense in action this season.
The problem Kaepernick will have is that he’s not nearly as accurate as Smith. Smith had a high completion percentage during the year by eight points on the same number of attempts. Stray passes will end up in the hands of the Green Bay secondary. Kaepernick also likes to take off running, which will be a big mistake against Clay Matthews and the other Packers linebackers.
Julio Jones, Wide Receiver, Atlanta Falcons
Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons
Date: Sunday, January 13, 1:00 p.m. ET
TV Information: FOX
Why He’s a Bust: The Seattle Seahawks secondary is one of the toughest to crack through the air. Seattle had the sixth-best pass defense in the NFL this season (via ESPN), led by impact cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. They are a nightmare for both quarterbacks and wide receivers. Matt Ryan will surely have trouble getting the ball to two of his favorite targets: Julio Jones and Roddy White.
White will be under extreme supervision at all times and even double-covered on occasion so Ryan will have to look to Jones. Jones, however, hasn’t surpassed 100 yards the past five weeks despite scoring four times. He will be going up against either Sherman or Browner, which will not be an easy task. He somehow has to find a way to break coverage and get open so that Ryan can find him.