NFL

galleryTitle description galleryUrl thumbnail
Top 10 Super Bowl Plays of All-time Top 10 Super Bowl Plays of All-time /nfl/lists/Top-10-Super-Bowl-Best-Plays http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/02/06/raiders_20110206194820831_136_102.JPG
Top 10 Surprise Super Bowl Stars Top 10 Surprise Super Bowl Stars /nfl/lists/Top-10-Surprise-Super-Bowl-Stars http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/01/26/012611-NFL-Giants-David-Tyree-PI_20110126165618240_136_102.JPG
Schrager: Top 10 players searching for Super Bowl rings /nfl/lists/Top-10-players-searching-for-Super-Bowl-rings http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2010/05/05/050510-Gimme-A-Ring-SW-PI_20100505112551_136_102.JPG
Top 10 worst Super Bowl games Top 10 worst Super Bowl games /nfl/lists/Top_10_worst_Super_Bowl_games http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/01/24/012411-NFL-bills-AM-G1_20110124231547604_136_102.JPG
categoryName categoryId galleryId galleryTitle mediaId imageTitle imageURL league description shortDescription attribution large thumbnail
NFL 5 2020 NFL playoff players under pressure 31509836 Playoff players under pressure Playoff+players+under+pressure NFL

The stress increases this week for every NFL playoff team.

However, some members of those 12 squads will be feeling the heat more than others.

Here’s a look at one representative from each club with either something to prove or added pressure to help carry the load. — Alex Marvez
 

David Butler II - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-PATRIOTS-TOM-BRADY-SS-GI_20130101190848125_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-PATRIOTS-TOM-BRADY-SS-GI_20130101190848125_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 NFL playoff players under pressure 31513085 Washington: Quarterback Robert Griffin III Washington%3A+Quarterback+Robert+Griffin+III NFL

With a brace protecting the sprained right knee he suffered in Week 14, Griffin was still fast but didn’t look as swift as usual in the season-ending win over Dallas. The Redskins protected Griffin by leaning on rookie running back Alfred Morris to carry almost the entire rushing load against the Cowboys. How much recovery Griffin makes before Sunday’s kickoff will determine to what extent Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan can open his playbook.

Wild-Card Weekend: Schedule | More NFL coverage

Geoff BurkE - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-REDSKINS-ROBER-GRIFFIN-III-SS-GI_20130101191539160_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-REDSKINS-ROBER-GRIFFIN-III-SS-GI_20130101191539160_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 NFL playoff players under pressure 31509848 Seattle: The linebackers Seattle%3A+The+linebackers NFL

Leroy Hill, K.J. Wright and rookie Bobby Wagner have a tough task ahead. The Redskins averaged an NFL-best 169.3 rushing yards a game with the dual rookie threat of running back Alfred Morris and quarterback Robert Griffin III, who can execute the read-option to a T. Seahawks coaches also have installed the read-option for rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. Their knowledge of the scheme should help when it comes to ensure the scout team provides good looks for the defense in practice. But there is no way to truly emulate a multidimensional threat like Griffin with a reserve player.

Wild-Card Weekend: Schedule | More NFL coverage

Ron Chenoy - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-SEAHAWKS-BOBBY-WAGNER-SS-GI_20130101191443149_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-SEAHAWKS-BOBBY-WAGNER-SS-GI_20130101191443149_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 NFL playoff players under pressure 31509844 Indianapolis: Quarterback Andrew Luck Indianapolis%3A+Quarterback+Andrew+Luck NFL

Luck has spent his entire football life in the spotlight, so he may not get awed by appearing in his first NFL playoff game as a rookie. But as reflected by his 18 interceptions, Luck has displayed the tendency to press at times and try to force passes. He made this mistake in a Week 11 loss at New England. Luck can’t afford to do the same on the road against a veteran Ravens squad.

Wild-Card Weekend: Schedule | More NFL coverage

Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-COLTS-ANDREW-LUCK-SS-PI_20130101191419147_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-COLTS-ANDREW-LUCK-SS-PI_20130101191419147_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 NFL playoff players under pressure 31513088 Baltimore: Free safety Ed Reed Baltimore%3A+Free+safety+Ed+Reed NFL

He is one of the top defensive play-makers of his generation. Reed, though, had only one interception in the second half of the regular season as Baltimore’s pass defense struggled amid a slew of injuries. The Ravens need Reed to provide a security blanket against a trio of Colts receivers (Ty Hilton, LaVon Brazill and Donnie Avery) who have combined for 10 pass plays of 40-plus yards. Reed also may be able to capitalize on the inexperience of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who has committed 23 turnovers (18 interceptions and five fumbles) in his rookie campaign. This may be Reed’s final home game after 11 years with the Ravens as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

Wild-Card Weekend: Schedule | More NFL coverage

Mitch Stringer - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-RAVENS-ED-REED-SS-GI_20130101193459165_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-RAVENS-ED-REED-SS-GI_20130101193459165_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 NFL playoff players under pressure 31510576 Minnesota: Running back Adrian Peterson Minnesota%3A+Running+back+Adrian+Peterson NFL

Of the 2,007 yards Peterson rushed for during the regular season, 409 of them came in two games against Green Bay. Peterson will be relied upon to carry Minnesota’s offensive load once again even though everyone knows he will be toting the football. The more effective Peterson is, the better the opportunities for second-year quarterback Christian Ponder to make plays in the passing game.

Wild-Card Weekend: Schedule | More NFL coverage

Brace Hemmelgarn - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/02/ap1_20130102173641361_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/02/ap1_20130102173641361_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 NFL playoff players under pressure 31513089 Green Bay: Right tackle Don Barclay Green+Bay%3A+Right+tackle+Don+Barclay NFL

The loss of Bryan Bulaga to a season-ending hip injury in Week 9 has given Barclay the chance to start as a rookie. But after a promising debut, the undrafted college free agent struggled badly in a Week 17 loss to Minnesota. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Barclay surrendered 2½ sacks along with committing two false-start penalties. Some of his struggles may be related to the deafening crowd noise in the Metrodome, which is something he won’t have to contend with Saturday at Lambeau Field. No matter the reason, Barclay must do a better job protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers from pass-rushers Brian Robison and Everson Griffen.

Wild-Card Weekend: Schedule | More NFL coverage

Jeff Hanisch - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-PACKERS-DON-BARCLAY-SS-GI_20130101193459166_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-PACKERS-DON-BARCLAY-SS-GI_20130101193459166_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 NFL playoff players under pressure 31509846 Cincinnati: Head coach Marvin Lewis Cincinnati%3A+Head+coach+Marvin+Lewis NFL

Lewis deserves credit for rebuilding the Bengals from NFL laughingstock in 2003 to reaching the playoffs in two straight seasons for the first time since 1981 and 1982. The next step must be a postseason win. Jim Mora, who spent 11 seasons with New Orleans, is the only head coach in NFL history who lasted as long with one team without a playoff victory as Lewis, according to STATS LLC. Although he is in no danger of being fired, there will be some question as to whether the Bengals have hit a plateau under Lewis if he doesn’t reach the second round this season.

Wild-Card Weekend: Schedule | More NFL coverage

Frank Victores - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-BENGALS-MARVIN-LEWIS-SS-PI_20130101191414144_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-BENGALS-MARVIN-LEWIS-SS-PI_20130101191414144_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 NFL playoff players under pressure 31509847 Houston: Quarterback Matt Schaub Houston%3A+Quarterback+Matt+Schaub NFL

It took nine seasons, but Schaub will be starting his first career playoff game Saturday against visiting Cincinnati. Schaub won’t be making a second one this season if his performance in three 2012 prime-time games is an indication of what’s to come. Schaub posted his three lowest quarterback ratings when facing Green Bay, Chicago and New England. Houston’s December dip corresponded with Schaub throwing only one touchdown pass and three interceptions in the final four games.

Wild-Card Weekend: Schedule | More NFL coverage

Brett Davis - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-TEXANS-MATT-SCHAUB-SS-PI_20130101191406142_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-TEXANS-MATT-SCHAUB-SS-PI_20130101191406142_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 NFL playoff players under pressure 31510577 San Francisco: Wide receiver Michael Crabtree San+Francisco%3A+Wide+receiver+Michael+Crabtree NFL

After last year’s loss in the NFC Championship game, the 49ers know all too well what can happen with a lack of firepower in the passing game. San Francisco lost two of its top wideouts (Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams) to season-ending knee injuries in the past six weeks. Fortunately for the 49ers, Crabtree has emerged to pick up some of the slack. He finished 2012 with career highs in catches (85), yardage (1,105 yards) and touchdowns (nine). Crabtree must keep the momentum going to help second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his first postseason go-around.

Wild-Card Weekend: Schedule | More NFL coverage

Matt Kartozian - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/02/cb_20130102173818363_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/02/cb_20130102173818363_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 NFL playoff players under pressure 31509837 Atlanta: Head coach Mike Smith Atlanta%3A+Head+coach+Mike+Smith NFL

New England’s Bill Belichick is the only head coach with a better regular-season record over the past five years than Smith (56-24). The Falcons, though, lost their opening playoff game in three of those seasons and didn’t qualify in the fourth. Hoping to keep momentum going into January, Smith played his starters throughout a Week 17 loss to Tampa Bay despite the outcome having no bearing on the team’s No. 1 NFC playoff seeding. The move almost backfired as defensive end John Abraham (ankle) and cornerback Dunta Robinson (concussion) suffered injuries. Smith, though, said both players will be back for the team’s January 13 second-round contest.

Wild-Card Weekend: Schedule | More NFL coverage

Daniel Shirey - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-FALCONS-MIKE-SMITH-SS-GI_20130101190848128_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-FALCONS-MIKE-SMITH-SS-GI_20130101190848128_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 NFL playoff players under pressure 31509834 New England: The secondary New+England%3A+The+secondary NFL

There was a common theme in three of New England’s four losses — lousy pass defense caused by miscommunication and coverage busts. San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and Seattle’s Russell Wilson combined for 10 touchdown passes, eight of which spanned at least 20 yards. This may not bode well if the Patriots have to face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos once again in the AFC Championship game. New England, though, is capable of shutting down an aerial attack. The Patriots finished tied for fifth in interceptions with 20 led by safeties Devin McCourty (five) and rookie Tavon Wilson (four).

Wild-Card Weekend: Schedule | More NFL coverage

Stew Milne - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-PATRIOTS-DEVIN-MCCOURTY-SS-GI_20130101190848127_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-PATRIOTS-DEVIN-MCCOURTY-SS-GI_20130101190848127_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 NFL playoff players under pressure 31509835 Denver: Quarterback Peyton Manning Denver%3A+Quarterback+Peyton+Manning NFL

Manning has a legitimate shot at winning three prestigious awards (Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year) for his 2012 accomplishments in Denver. But those honors won’t mean as much to Manning if the Broncos don’t make a Super Bowl run. Indianapolis lost its opening playoff game in seven of the 11 years the Colts qualified with Manning under center. The postseason also has proven feast-or-famine for Manning. Of his nine playoff victories, only one (the 2006 AFC Championship game against New England) featured a fourth-quarter Manning comeback.

Wild-Card Weekend: Schedule | More NFL coverage

Ron Chenoy - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-BRONCOS-PEYTON-MANNING-SS-GI_20130101190848129_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/01/01/010113-NFL-BRONCOS-PEYTON-MANNING-SS-GI_20130101190848129_107_80.JPG
EndCap Fox Sports Video and Photo Gallery
thumbnail galleryTitle shortDescription longDescription blurb galUpdated pageNumber totalPages galleryUrl
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/02/06/raiders_20110206194820831_136_102.JPG Top 10 Super Bowl Plays of All-time Top 10 Super Bowl Plays of All-time Top 10 Super Bowl Plays of All-time Every Super Bowl has a defining moment. These are the coolest moments in time. Jan 24, 2014 3:04 PM ET 1 30 /nfl/lists/Top-10-Super-Bowl-Best-Plays
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/01/26/012611-NFL-Giants-David-Tyree-PI_20110126165618240_136_102.JPG Top 10 Surprise Super Bowl Stars Top 10 Surprise Super Bowl Stars Top 10 Surprise Super Bowl Stars Super Bowl Sunday is not just about the stars. Here are the best flashes in the pan. Jan 24, 2014 2:58 PM ET 1 30 /nfl/lists/Top-10-Surprise-Super-Bowl-Stars
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2010/05/05/050510-Gimme-A-Ring-SW-PI_20100505112551_136_102.JPG Schrager: Top 10 players searching for Super Bowl rings McNabb, other big-name vets know window's closing on elusive prize. Jan 2, 2014 3:43 PM ET 1 30 /nfl/lists/Top-10-players-searching-for-Super-Bowl-rings
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/01/24/012411-NFL-bills-AM-G1_20110124231547604_136_102.JPG Top 10 worst Super Bowl games Top 10 worst Super Bowl games Top 10 worst Super Bowl games Top 10 worst Super Bowl games Jan 2, 2014 3:43 PM ET 1 30 /nfl/lists/Top_10_worst_Super_Bowl_games