20 Players To Watch During NFL Wild Card Weekend

1 of 21

20 Players To Watch During NFL Wild Card Weekend

Wild Card
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 NFL Playoffs are set to begin with several exciting matchups slated for Wild Card weekend. There will be so many talented players scattered throughout the field in all four contests that professional football fans will just have to sit back and watch the epic showdowns commence. Even though there are easily 100 players that have the capabilities to have a major impact in the outcome for the four games, I thought it would be easier to narrow it down to the top 20 players to watch.

There are several big storylines ready to take control of the weekend. One of the biggest ones is the weather in Green Bay. The temperature will be so cold that it has a realistic chance of rivaling the legendary Ice Bowl, which is the coldest game on record.

Along with the weather, the other major storylines are whether various players will be able to take their teams to the next level. Along with that, if they are ready to take their individual performance to a level in which fans and football experts can start throwing around the word elite. Several big-named players will make the most of their opportunity to shine while others will simply falter. Those that do well have the chance to be remembered forever.

Make sure to click through the slideshow to see 20 players to watch during NFL Wild Card Weekend. Also, don’t forget to comment below on which players you are expected to see make an impact in the opening weekend of the playoffs.

2 of 21

Aaron Rodgers

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

After he led the Green Bay Packers to a come-from-behind win against the Chicago Bears, there’s no question Aaron Rodgers is one of the top players fans should keep their eye on during Wild Card weekend. It will be interesting to see if Rodgers has another trick up his sleeve when the Packers take on the San Francisco 49ers.

3 of 21

LeSean McCoy

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

LeSean McCoy is one of the most electrifying players in football. He led the league in rushing yards, but he can also hurt defenses through the air. The Philadelphia Eagles high-flying offense will feature McCoy often in their Saturday night matchup.

4 of 21

Vontaze Burfict

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL’s leading tackler is sure to leave his imprint on the San Diego Chargers in the first round of the playoffs. The Cincinnati Bengals will need Vontaze Burfict to come up big more times than not if they want to be victorious on Sunday.

5 of 21

Drew Brees

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles and New Orleans Saints could very well be the highest scoring game of the weekend. For that reason, Drew Brees will have to be on the money in order for the Saints to match the Eagles touchdown for touchdown. Obviously, this shouldn’t be a problem for one of the best scorers in the game. Expect Brees to torch Philadelphia through the air.

6 of 21

Randall Cobb

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Randall Cobb’s return after a 10-week absence gave the Packers an edge like no other. His two touchdowns against the Bears was the difference maker in the NFC North title game. If Green Bay wants to go deep in the playoffs, they will need Cobb to continue playing well.

7 of 21

Nick Foles

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 playoffs could very well be Nick Foles’ coming out party. The quarterback already had an incredibly impressive season, but what he accomplishes in the playoffs will separate him from the other signal callers in the league. Philly fans expect and winner. Foles will have to deliver against the Saints in order to make that a reality.

8 of 21

A.J. Green

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

A.J. Green was selected to the second-team All-Pro, rightfully so. However, he will have to have a performance like none other in order to help the Bengals finally win a playoff game for the first time since 1990.

9 of 21

Alex Smith

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

I personally believe that the Chiefs-Indianapolis Colts game will come down to the play of Alex Smith. Of course, there will be plenty of other factors in the contest. With that being said, Smith will have to take his efficient quarterback skills to the next level in order for Kansas City to make some noise in the postseason.

10 of 21

Frank Gore

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If the 49ers win on Sunday against the Packers, it will most likely be because Frank Gore ran all over the dismal defense. With the temperature expected to be below-zero at Lambeau Field, the running game will definitely be a factor, although not as much as people may think.

11 of 21

Robert Mathis

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

My pick for the Defensive Player of the Year will have to take what he did in the regular season and make it seem like a walk in the park. Robert Mathis will have to get after Smith frequently if the Colts want to beat the Chiefs. Remember, there’s a reason why he recorded 19.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles in 2013.

12 of 21

Eddie Lacy

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Like Gore, Eddie Lacy is expected to be a huge factor in the Packers-49ers matchup. If Lacy can have any success whatsoever against San Francisco, Rodgers and the wide receivers will have a field day. That will be incredibly bad news for the 49ers.

13 of 21

Colin Kaepernick

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Colin Kaepernick tore apart the Packers on the ground in the playoffs last season and torched them through the air in Week 1 of this season. Simply put, Green Bay will have to expect everything from Kaepernick, who could put on a show on the Frozen Tundra.

14 of 21

Eric Berry

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Berry put together a fantastic season in 2013. In fact, he is a big reason why the Chiefs have had a very intimidating defense throughout the year. It will be up to Berry to stop Andrew Luck’s passing game and give his team a chance to win.

15 of 21

Andrew Luck

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of Luck, the signal caller is expected to go off on Saturday after his team was eliminated in the first round last year. There’s no question all eyes will be on him as all hope rests on his arm. Don’t be surprised if Luck has a monster performance.

16 of 21

Andy Dalton

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest questions heading into the playoffs is if the good or bad Andy Dalton will show up. If the good Dalton shows up, the Bengals will be in great shape. In fact, they could even make a decent run. Unfortunately, if the bad Dalton shows up the team will be in big trouble.

17 of 21

NaVorro Bowman

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

NaVorro Bowman has been a big factor on San Francisco’s defense this season. The All-Pro has made plays all over the field, which will have to remain consistent if the 49ers want to beat the Packers.

18 of 21

Jimmy Graham

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Graham is the most electrifying tight end in the game. Not to mention, he’s Brees’ favorite target, which could mean the Eagles’ last-ranked pass defense could be in for a long night. Graham should be a factor throughout the contest Saturday night.

19 of 21

Jamaal Charles

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Jamaal Charles continues to impress as one of the best running backs in the league. He led the league in rushing touchdowns (12) and he was third in total rushing yards (1,287) in 2013. That must continue into the playoffs, as he will be the difference maker in Saturday’s contest.

20 of 21

Cameron Jordan

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that will be filled with offense, it will be a defensive playmaker that could steal the show. If the Saints want to be victorious, they might need the help of defensive end Cameron Jordan. The third-year player has 12.5 sacks and two forced fumbles this season.

21 of 21

Philip Rivers

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The only way the Chargers defeat the Bengals is if Philip Rivers has the game of his career. Like Dalton, it will all come down to which Rivers shows up. The quarterback needs to step up and prove San Diego deserves the postseason berth.

Around the Web