By Steve Silverman
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The NFL season has reached the house stretch, and the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, and Philadelphia Eagles have handed almost all their exams up so far.
These groups are all more likely to safe their place within the postseason shortly and can virtually definitely be among the many favorites to make runs on the Tremendous Bowl.
There are different contenders, together with the Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons, who can decide their very own destinies. Celebrity gamers are going to have to return via for them to get to the postseason, however different key gamers additionally should ship.
Listed here are 5 of these gamers who need to carry out in very important late-season video games.
Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina
Olsen has been out a lot of the yr with a foot damage, and when he got here again final week towards the Jets, he reinjured the foot and was despatched again to the sidelines. Additional analysis indicated that Olsen didn’t do any main injury and can have the ability to proceed his comeback.
He’s very important to the Panthers as a result of he’s their most expert cross catcher. Quarterback Cam Newton lacks consistency and doesn’t all the time give his receivers a simple ball to deal with. That’s the place Olsen is available in. He’s often capable of catch something he can get his palms on, and he makes Newton a a lot better quarterback.
If Olsen can keep within the lineup and produce, the Panthers’ probabilities of turning into an impression staff within the postseason will improve dramatically.
Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Oakland
The Raiders have been a dominant group right now final yr. This season, at 5-6, they’ve been a serious disappointment and solely have an opportunity to make the playoffs as a result of the Chiefs have misplaced their grip after a 5-zero begin.
Oakland is only a recreation behind Kansas Metropolis, and if it’s going to catch and move the Chiefs, its protection must carry out fairly a bit higher.
The Raiders rank twenty fourth in yards allowed and often get pushed round. Mack, who has fifty two tackles, 6½ sacks, and two passes defensed, is by far their greatest defensive participant, on paper. Mack doesn’t have a pressured or recovered fumble, and he has not been the beast the…