Trevor Lawrence, Jalen Hurts and one player from each NFL playoff contender who needs to step up

The NFL postseason is a matter of weeks away. For most teams, the current roster is what they will carry to the end and players will need to step up if their teams are to continue moving forward. 

With that in mind, here is one player who needs to step up for every team currently in a playoff position:

AFC

Miami Dolphins: EDGE Andrew Van Ginkel

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Miami’s defense has shown improvement throughout the course of the season. With Jaelan Phillips on injured reserve, they need the rest of their pass rushers to support Bradley Chubb, who leads the league with six forced fumbles. Andrew Van Ginkel has risen to the occasion but that will need to continue. Emmanuel Ogbah has also provided solid depth. 

Baltimore Ravens: EDGE Odafe Oweh

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Baltimore has a good, collective pass rush but Oweh has juice that others cannot squeeze. He has the ability to dig deep and deliver in critical moments. The Ravens are going to need that as they look to close out games in the postseason. Baltimore needs reliable play from its pass catchers as well.

Kansas City Chiefs: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling

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Rookie Rashee Rice has been Patrick Mahomes’ most reliable target when also considering health and availability. There should be no concern regarding Travis Kelce and his expected performance in the playoffs. However, they need another outlet, like Skyy Moore or Valdes-Scantling, to serve as a security blanket for Kansas City. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence

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Jacksonville needs their superstar quarterback to play like a superstar. Lawrence ranks No. 17 in passer rating this season. With multiple starters injured, the quarterback will need to do a better job of making sound decisions and getting the ball out quickly. He needs to take what the defense gives him rather than trying to do too much. 

Cleveland Browns: OTs Geron Christian and James Hudson

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Cleveland is down their top three offensive tackles for the rest of the season. Christian and Hudson are getting good experience but the offensive strategy has been stressed as a team built on running the football has struggled to do so through the injuries. Veteran quarterback Joe Flacco has been better than advertised but his protection will need to stand tall. 

Cincinnati Bengals: DT Zach Carter

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D.J. Reader was recently added to the injured reserve. Cincinnati could have already afforded more depth at that position. With the injury, Carter has been elevated into a larger role. Carter has played almost 400 snaps this season but the third-round pick out of Florida is now in the spotlight.

Indianapolis Colts: WR Alec Pierce

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Michael Pittman Jr. took a big hit over the weekend against Pittsburgh. If he is unavailable for any period of time, that will put the crosshairs on Josh Downs and Pierce. Can one or both make up for the production that would be lost through a Pittman injury? 

In the Hunt

Houston Texans: WR Noah Brown
Buffalo Bills:
EDGE Von Miller
Pittsburgh Steelers:
S Minkah Fitzpatrick
Denver Broncos:
QB Russell Wilson

NFC

San Francisco 49ers: WR Brandon Aiyuk

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San Francisco has deficiencies on its roster but the reality is that it will have a chance to win the Super Bowl if the skill talent is firing on all cylinders. Christian McCaffrey makes the engine go but Aiyuk is one of the best pass catchers in the NFL. He has three games of 50 receiving yards or less over the past four games. He had one such game over the first nine games of the season.

Dallas Cowboys: QB Dak Prescott

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Prescott is a tractor. He is supposed to pull his teammates along with him. The performance against Buffalo was simply not good enough and the Cowboys’ postseason will end sooner than it hopes if Prescott is not more of the MVP-caliber quarterback that has been seen for most of the season. 

Detroit Lions: DTs Benito Jones and John Cominsky

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Alim McNeill was a substantial loss for Detroit’s secondary so it will be interesting to see how they plan to overcome. Benito Jones and John Cominsky have played more snaps and Josh Paschal has slid inside in certain situations. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LB Devin White

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There is a situation brewing in Tampa Bay where it appears White and head coach Todd Bowles were on different pages regarding his availability for last week’s game against the Packers. White has not had his usual solid season but remains one of the most talented players on the Buccaneers defense. They need more from him over the remainder of the season. 

Philadelphia Eagles: QB Jalen Hurts

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The entire Philadelphia operation needs to step up right now. The decision for Matt Patricia to take over play calling was unexpected this late in the season. The Eagles need veterans to step up on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Jalen Hurts and cornerback Darius Slay. 

Minnesota Vikings: QB Nick Mullens

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Minnesota’s defense has steadily improved and now Justin Jefferson is back for the offense. The Vikings need to cobble together something that resembles competent quarterback play. They have utilized both Nick Mullens and Josh Dobbs to this point. Riding the hot hand may be the strategy with each game carrying significant importance the rest of the way.

Los Angeles Rams: OTs Alaric Jackson and Rob Havenstein

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Los Angeles is a relatively young team and certainly a healthy one. Matthew Stafford has been one of the most impressive quarterbacks in the NFL this season. The Rams have no business being in the position that they are now but the offense can take them deep in the NFC playoffs if protection holds up. 

In the Hunt

Seattle Seahawks: QB Drew Lock
New Orleans Saints: QB Derek Carr
Atlanta Falcons: QB Taylor Heinecke
Green Bay Packers: EDGE Preston Smith



The NFL postseason is approaching and each team in a playoff position needs players to step up in order to continue moving forward. Here is a summary of the players who need to step up for each team:

AFC:
– Miami Dolphins: EDGE Andrew Van Ginkel
– Baltimore Ravens: EDGE Odafe Oweh
– Kansas City Chiefs: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
– Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence
– Cleveland Browns: OTs Geron Christian and James Hudson
– Cincinnati Bengals: DT Zach Carter
– Indianapolis Colts: WR Alec Pierce

In the Hunt:
– Houston Texans: WR Noah Brown
– Buffalo Bills: EDGE Von Miller
– Pittsburgh Steelers: S Minkah Fitzpatrick
– Denver Broncos: QB Russell Wilson

NFC:
– San Francisco 49ers: WR Brandon Aiyuk
– Dallas Cowboys: QB Dak Prescott
– Detroit Lions: DTs Benito Jones and John Cominsky
– Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LB Devin White
– Philadelphia Eagles: QB Jalen Hurts
– Minnesota Vikings: QB Nick Mullens
– Los Angeles Rams: OTs Alaric Jackson and Rob Havenstein

In the Hunt:
– Seattle Seahawks: QB Drew Lock
– New Orleans Saints: QB Derek Carr
– Atlanta Falcons: QB Taylor Heinecke
– Green Bay Packers: EDGE Preston Smith

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