When the calendar tuns to December the level of pressure around the NFL seems to get turned up an extra notch for both players and fans. Teams are fighting for their playoff lives while fans are trying to win their fantasy football playoff games. Let’s take a look at some players that helped their team’s playoff chances or had an impact on some fantasy football playoff matchups with this week’s edition of Dave & Adam’s “Leaders of the Pack”
The NFC South has been the punchline of the NFL this season. A division that is almost guaranteed to have a champion with a record of 8-8 or worse and features some quarterbacks that have had their fair share of struggles this season. One of those QBs, however, managed to break out of the doldrums and exploded to have huge game to win our “Leader of the Pack” award for Week 14.
Cam Newton secured the LOTP title as he passed for three touchdowns and rushed for another in the Carolina Panthers’ 41-10 beatdown of the New Orleans Saints. Newton and the Panthers jumped out to 17-0 lead in the first quarter and never took their foot off the gas for the rest of the game. The win keeps Carolina in the hunt for the NFC South title even with a 4-8-1 record. Newton frustrated the Saints so much that a brawl started after Newton’s 2-yard touchdown run in the opening quarter.
The former Auburn Tiger remains popular with collectors despite some less than stellar performances in recent years. Be sure to check out Dave & Adam’s selection of Cam Newton cards and memorabilia.
One of the divisions benefiting from the poor play of the NFC South is the AFC North. Teams in the AFC North have feasted upon the NFC South and it’s part of the reason why all four teams in the division are in the thick of the AFC playoff picture. This week’s “Leader of the Pack” at running back came out of a battle between AFC North combatants trying to get an upper hand in the push for the postseason.
Le’Veon Bell played a major role in a fourth quarter explosion by the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense to win the “Leader of the Pack” title at running back for Week 14. Bell’s two rushing touchdowns was part of a 25-point fourth quarter by Pittsburgh that allowed them to surge past Cincinnati Bengals for a 42-21 win. The victory moved the Steelers within a half game of the Bengals for first place in the AFC North.
Bell’s first touchdown of the final quarter helped Pittsburgh take a 28-21 lead. He then provided the final nail in the Bengals’ coffin on 22-yard touchdown run to seal the win. Bell also caught a touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger earlier in the game. The second-year standout became just the second running back in NFL history to accumulate 200 or more yards from scrimmage in three-straight games. Bell’s 711 yards from scrimmage in the last three games is the most since Walter Payton had 746 yards during a three-game span in 1977.
The “Leader of the Pack” at wide receiver comes from the losing side of the Steelers-Bengals matchup as A.J. Green was in familiar form despite the loss. Green caught 11 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown for his best game of the season. His 81-yard touchdown catch at the end of the third quarter gave the Bengals a 21-17 lead before the Steelers went on their aforementioned fourth quarter run. .
Green is just 90 yards shy of his fourth-straight 1,000 yard season despite missing some games due to a turf toe injury. Scooping up some A.J. Green rookie cards from 2011 might be a good investment, especially if he can help lead the Bengals back to the Super Bowl someday.