The NFL’s final two weeks of the regular season will be held in January, but December is when the league’s playoff picture will start to be pieced together.
Entering Week 14, no team has sealed its place in the postseason. That all can change this weekend, however, as three teams – the Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – could have the opportunity to join the field. And with only the Houston Texans officially eliminated from playoff contention, there’s plenty of hope remaining for almost every team. Of course, some players will have to shoulder a heavier burden than others to push their teams over the top.
NEVER MISS A SNAP: Follow our NFL newsletter for exclusive content
With that in mind, we asked USA TODAY Sports’ NFL reporters, columnists and editors:
Which players have the most to prove in their teams’ playoff push?
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis.
Matthew Stafford — and the other marquee additions for the LA Rams, Von Miller and Odell Beckham, Jr. Remember, the Rams went for broke to make another serious run at the crown and the jury is still out. Let’s start here with Miller. He’s positioned with the other studs on the Rams D to really have an impact as an edge rusher. If LA (8-4), currently claiming the fifth seed in the NFC playoff map, is going to get past Tampa Bay, Green Bay, Arizona and maybe even Dallas in the playoffs, they will need as much of a rush as possible on the array of star quarterbacks they’ll face. And Miller, if he’s healthy, needs to be the one to bring the heat to complement Aaron Donald’s havoc on the inside. Beckham, meanwhile, has elevated from luxury to necessity as LA tries filling the void left with Robert Woods’ season-ending knee injury. The past couple of weeks, OBJ has shown strides suggesting that he is still an elite receiver as he works…