The Five Most Underrated Players In This Year's NFL Playoffs
5) Joe Flacco
Flacco has long been underestimated, most notably in the regular season. While the quarterback often does not play up to standards then, he has been nothing but astonishing in the playoffs. Flacco threw 11 touchdowns to zero picks back in the Ravens' Super Bowl run, despite facing some solid teams. This year, Flacco has gotten off to a good start, throwing two touchdowns while recording no turnovers in a 30-17 win over the Steelers. The Ravens were the underdogs then, and still are. While more people have changed sides due to their excellent play last week, many are still opting against Flacco in this Divisional Round match-up.
4) Byron Maxwell
Kind of the unsung hero of the Legion of Boom, Maxwell deserves a lot more attention. It is somewhat expected, though, that the fourth-year corner has not gotten much recognition. Drafted in the sixth-round back in 2011 and having not started a game until late-2013, he has never been a front-page player. However, Maxwell recorded four picks in those last five games of 2013 and built off of that strong finish to record two picks and 12 pass deflections this year. It is tough playing on the opposite side of Richard Sherman, with many balls bound to go his way, but Maxwell has stepped up to the plate. The Panthers do not have a threat at wide receiver outside of Kelvin Benjamin, so Maxwell matches up favorably this week.
3) Sam Shields
Playing alongside a well-known veteran, Tramon Williams, and a standout nickel corner, Casey Hayward, Sam Shields' success has been overshadowed. He got paid this offseason, big time, but outside of Packer Nation many people probably do not know who he is. The Packers' run defense has struggled often this year, but their pass defense has not, thanks to Shields' level of play. Going up against a very dangerous receiving corps, Shields will have to play his best this week.
2) Dan Herron
"Boom" Herron has gotten some recognition after stepping in for the injured Ahmad Bradshaw, but his impact is often underplayed. From Week 12 to Week 15, Herron averaged 6.13 yards per carry and had another excellent game running the ball in the playoffs. The second-year back does have his faults, with four fumbles between those five games, but that should not dismiss that fact that his presence alone does not allow the defense to focus pass all the time as they have if someone like Trent Richardson were in at running back. It was expected that the Colts' offense would turn one-dimensional after losing Bradshaw, but Herron has not just filled in well, he has given the Colts' offense a lift.
1) Terrance Williams
Williams played extremely well in the beginning of the year, following his strong rookie season, but the second-year receiver seemed to lose his footing in the second half of the year. Williams' early-season numbers projected him to record 814 yards and 12 touchdowns, both of which would have been more than his rookie-year totals. He did pick up the pace towards the end, though, recording 120 yards and two touchdowns in his final two games, and showed off his playmaking ability to help the Cowboys top the Lions in the Wild Card round, catching three passes for 92 yards and two scores. Dez Bryant is one of the best receivers in all of football, but Williams is most definitely one great #2 wideout.