QB Philip Rivers
Rivers led the Chargers to a win over a tough Steelers team on Sunday Night Football. Without his star running back Melvin Gordon, Rivers led his team all the way back from a 23-7 halftime deficit throwing for 299 yards and two touchdowns.
The Chargers have won eight of their last nine games on the back of Rivers, and it seems like they are a legit contender to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. However, they will need Philip Rivers to continue playing at this level if they will have any chance to beat powerhouses like the Chiefs and Patriots in the postseason.
RB Christian McCaffrey
Despite a rough loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, McCaffrey had an impressive day offensively. With nine receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown to go along with 10 rushes for 106 yards, he stood out in an offense that struggled. This was mostly due to a rough day from Cam Newton, who threw four interceptions.
Sitting at 6-6, the Panthers are still very much in the playoff race. McCaffrey must continue to produce as a runner and receiver when called on to propel the Panthers into the playoffs.
WR Antonio Brown
Despite the loss to the Chargers, Brown did as much as he could for a Steelers offense that scored 30 points. With 10 receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown, Brown had a great day, but cannot be continually relied on in this way if the Steelers want to beat solid teams in the AFC such as the Chargers.
According to “NFL Next Gen Stats”, Brown leads the NFL in targets with 135 and Roethlisberger seems to be forcing the ball his way often this season. Many of his interceptions have been thrown in the direction of Brown, including an ugly interception in Denver that lost them that game. Using Brown’s production effectively and getting the ball to Juju Smith Schuster will be key for the Steelers moving forward.
TE Travis Kelce
Kelce continues to have a great season for the Chiefs as he took advantage of the lowly Oakland Raiders defense on Sunday. An outrageous stat line of 12 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns was enough to help his team to victory. Kelce’s consistency has been a key reason for the Chiefs success this year and their young quarterback will need him to continue to produce as we head into the postseason.
QB Drew Brees
Drew Brees has had a fantastic season to this point, he is widely considered to be one of the leading candidates for the MVP and has led the Saints to a 10-2 record. However, his performance on Thursday night was not one to remember.
Throwing for just 127 yards with one touchdown and an interception, the Saints were upset by the far inferior Dallas Cowboys. It is clear that without Brees playing at an elite level, the Saints are not the same team and they will need him to get back to the MVP type season he was having before this game.
RB Tevin Coleman
Coleman, who has taken over as the lead back in Atlanta after the Devonta Freeman injury, has had a stretch of a couple of bad weeks. This week against the Ravens was his least productive all season. Coleman had just six rushes for eight yards and one reception for three yards. The Falcons offense struggled as a result and scored only 16 points in a 26-16 loss. It seems as though their season is a lost cause, but Coleman will need to be better next season if they plan on making any run at the playoffs.
WR Mike Evans
While the Buccaneers were able to defeat the Panthers on Sunday, Evans had just four receptions for 48 yards in what was a disappointing performance. The ever-changing role of starting quarterback in Tampa Bay has to be hard on their receivers and it seems as though it has gotten to Mike Evans on multiple occasions this season. Sunday was no different. Look for Evans to get back to normal productivity and big numbers as the season comes to a close in the coming weeks.
TE Rob Gronkowski
In another injury-riddled season, Gronk has failed to impress. On Sunday, his performance was no different with just three receptions for 26 yards and no touchdowns. Most memorably Gronk was not able to fight for the first down on a route that came up just a yard short of the marker.
Even when Gronk has played this season, he just hasn’t seemed to be the same guy and it begs the question of whether Bill Belichick was right in trying to trade him this offseason. However, if Gronk is able to get back to even a little bit of what he was, this would be a huge boost for Tom Brady and the Patriots offense in chasing their sixth Super Bowl title since 2001.