NFC Playoffs – Most Important Non-QB
Welcome to the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs. After an exciting, hard-fought regular season, seven teams in each conference have moved on to play for the ultimate prize. In the NFC, the Green Bay Packers locked up the number one seed and get the opening-round bye. Meanwhile, the other six teams will battle it out to move on. Each squad will have an “X” factor on their side. This X-Factor is a non-quarterback and doesn’t necessarily have to be the team’s best player. They will however be needed to produce splash plays to get their squad to the next round. Without further ado, here is NFC Playoffs – Most Important Non-QB.
Green Bay Packers
Elgton Jenkins – OL
When looking at the most important non-quarterbacks on any team, the players protecting the signal-caller have to be among the offensive players. The Packers’ pass-protection took a huge blow with left tackle David Bakhtiari on IR. With Billy Turner likely the starting left tackle for the playoff run, left guard Elgton Jenkins will play an even more important role. Not only is Jenkins capable of handling most interior defensive linemen one-on-one, but he can also chip in and help out with an edge rusher on the same play. He is equally adept in the run game as he is a pass-protector. Jenkins is already one of the most versatile offensive linemen in the league. For this playoff run, he will need to be one of the best.
Jaire Alexander – CB
Jaire Alexander has been arguably the best cornerback in the NFL this season. Certainly among the elite tier. Week after week, Alexander shuts down his side of the field and is always a factor in run defense. He plays like a hard-hitting safety when taking an opponent. Alexander can play a variety of coverages, all with the same shutdown performance. With the NFC playoffs containing some of the best receivers in the league, it will take top tier coverage to keep up.
New Orleans Saints
Emmanuel Sanders – WR
With the status of star running back Alvin Kamara, as well wide receiver Michael Thomas, in question, the Saints will have to lean on Emmanuel Sanders. The speedy vet had a slow start to the season but has come on strong the last month. New Orleans will need Sanders to continue this on Sunday. Not only will Sanders be asked to make the big play but he will also be tasked with 3rd-down possession duties. The Bears have a beat-up secondary where Sanders can expose. Look for him to get 10 plus targets.
Trey Hendrickson – DE
For all the talent on the Saints defense, Trey Hendrickson lurks in the shadows. He might have the quietest 13.5 sacks in the league. Hendrickson gets pressure every single week and on Sunday that should be no different. Perhaps even tough is the task of slowing down running back David Montgomery. Hendrickson holds the edge well and can squeeze down running lanes. Look for the defensive end to make some noise.
D.K. Metcalf – WR
The Hawks will face division rival the Rams for the third time this season. The world knows about the legend of D.K. Metcalf, but he has cooled off some of late. Seattle will need him to make the plays he is capable of. Look for Metcalf to use his size and find the end zone. If DK gets involved early it might force the Rams to give him added attention. This should free up the other pass-catchers.
Carlos Dunlap – DE
Jamal Adams has been a monster in the box and getting after QBs but he hurt his shoulder and the Seahawks will need someone else to bring heat. Carlos Dunlap was brought in for this exact reason. He has done next to nothing against the Rams but look for the vet to spark this defensive front. Dunlap has not seen many playoff games in Cincinnati and is coming into this game with extra energy. With Jared Goff potentially out or limited, what better way to rattle a backup quarterback.
Washington Football Team
Logan Thomas – TE
Washington isn’t setting the world on fire on offense but they are getting by. They like to use many different guys to get the job done. However, the team has had a favorite Red Zone target this season. Logan Thomas might not be a household name but he has become a safety outlet. Thomas does have 72 receptions for 670 yards and 6 touchdowns on the year. Look for Washington to get the ball out quick and keep moving the sticks. Thomas will likely get close to 10 targets.
Montez Sweat – DE
Chase Young gets all the hype, and for good reason, but Montez Sweat isn’t a slouch by any means. Sweat leads the team in sacks and finds himself in the backfield often. He also has forced a pair of fumbles. This is a dynamic young duo and if Sweat can get to Tom Brady, this defense will be humming.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tristan Wirfs – RT
The Washington football team are really strong on the edge. Tom Brady is a statue in the pocket. Rookie Tristan Wirfs has future All-Pro talent but will need to keep Brady clean on the biggest stage of his young career. Look for Washington to throw all kinds of looks at Wirfs. If he rises to the occasion the Buccaneers offense should be able to move the ball.
Lavonte David – LB
If Devin White isn’t back from a positive Covid-19 test, Lavonte David‘s performance is that much more crucial. Tampa Bay needs to slow the run game down and force Washington to third-and-longs. If David is flying around with his hair on fire it will be a long day for WFT. Look for David to set the tone and be an emotional leader.
Los Angeles Rams
Cam Akers – RB
Jared Goff might miss the game. Even if he does play, he expected to have some limitations. In all likelihood, the Rams will want to lean on the run game and win the time of possession. Rookie Cam Akers should see a lot of action. The Seahawks have talented linebackers so Akers simply needs to get positive yardage and stay mistake-free. If he can create a few big plays the Rams will be in this game till the very end.
Jalen Ramsey – CB
Jalen Ramsey needs to take away whomever he is on. The Seahawks have two big weapons at wide receiver and Ramsey is the guy to lock one of them down. With Russell Wilson struggling of late, a forced turnover by Ramsey tilts the field. Ramsey isn’t shy of the trash talk and can also get in the head of his opponent. It will be a real chess match on the outside boundary in this one.
Darnell Mooney – WR
The Bears struck gold with rookie Darnell Mooney. David Montgomery will be the focal point for the Saints defense and Allen Robinson will likely draw Marshon Lattimore on most plays. As a consequence, Mooney could get a lot of looks. Even if it’s a short connection, Mooney can make a guy miss and create an explosive play. Perhaps the Bears could get an upset.
Akeem Hicks – DT
Khalil Mack will do Khalil Mack things but to really affect Drew Brees, teams need to push the pocket up the middle. Enter Akiem Hicks, who is a mountain of a man and demands double-teams. Hicks winning in the trenches helps the linebackers to stay clean and slow down the run game. If Hicks can push the pocket and get Brees to move, Mack and company will eat.
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