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Players to Watch This Weekend

Though Green Bay Packers fans are reduced to watching other teams throughout the playoffs, they’ll at least get to see some talented performers. Of the eight teams playing on Saturday and Sunday, the New Orleans Saints, with six Pro Bowlers, are blessed with talent. Next in line are the Los Angeles Rams, with five.

Rounding out the group, the Jacksonville Jaguars have four honorees; the Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, and Buffalo Bills have three each; the Falcons have two; Carolina has but one – perennial Pro Bowler Luke Kuechly.

The team with the most Pro Bowlers is the Pittsburgh Steelers of the AFC, who have eight. The top NFC teams are the Eagles and the Saints, with six each. The Steelers and Eagles are both in the playoffs, but have byes this weekend and won’t be playing until next weekend.

Titans at Chiefs (Saturday early game)

Titans: T Taylor Lewan; OL Jurrell Casey; P Brett Kern

Chiefs: TE Travis Kelce; RB Kareem Hunt; Returner Tyreek Hill

Falcons at Rams (Saturday late game)

Falcons: WR Julio Jones; C Alex Mack

Rams: RB Todd Gurley; DL Aaron Donald; P Johnny Hekker; K Greg Zuerlein; Returner Pharoh Cooper

Bills at Jaguars (Sunday early game)

Bills: G Richie Incognito; RB LeSean McCoy; SS Micah Hyde

Jaguars: DT Calais Campbell; DL Malik Jackson; CB A.J Bouye; CB Jalen Ramsey

Panthers at Saints (Sunday late game)

Panthers: ILB Luke Kuechly

Saints: WR Michael Thomas; QB Drew Brees; RB Alvin Kamara; RB Mark Ingram; DE Cameron Jordan; CB Marshon Lattimore

Comments

Of the 12 teams in the playoffs, in 2017 the Packers played the Vikings twice, as well as the Falcons, Saints, and Panthers of the NFC and the Steelers of the AFC. The Packers failed to win any of those six games.

Packers fans should be interested in watching Buffalo’s strong safety Micah Hyde, who is only a year removed from playing for Green Bay. Hyde beat out a five-time Pro Bowler, the Chiefs’ Eric Berry, for the honor. For some reason, two free safeties, but only one strong safety, are selected for the Pro Bowl from each conference. Hyde is also a second-team All-Pro.

In addition to having the league’s most prolific passer over the last several years, the Saints managed to have two running backs selected: veteran Mark Ingram racked up 1,124 yards, while rookie Alvin Kamara picked up 728 – Kamara’ average gain, however was 6.1 yards, while Ingram’s was 4.9. It’s no wonder New Orleans ranked second, to New England, in yards gained for the year.

The rookie Pro Bowlers are: CB Lattimore, RB Kamara, RB Hunt, and Arizona’s special teams defender Budda Baker. Lattimore was picked 11th overall; Baker went early in the second round, 36th overall; Kamara was the third pick of the third round, 67th overall; Kareem Hunt was also a third round steal, chosen 86th overall.

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Rob Born

Someone else said it first but I popularized it: “Athleticism is important in athletic pursuits.” It took three years, but the Packers finally listened. My new mantra: “Trading down is fine, but never trade up.”

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