Because the NFL playoffs strategy, quite a lot of gifted gamers nonetheless have an opportunity to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Right here is theScore’s rating of the highest 20 gamers who will take part on this yr’s postseason.

20. Stephon Gilmore, CB – Patriots

After battling accidents and inconsistencies earlier in his profession, Gilmore was the very definition of a shutdown nook in 2018. Although he solely intercepted two passes, the Patriots defensive again was sticky in protection, compelled two fumbles, and broke up a league-leading 18 passes, per Professional Soccer Focus. Elite athleticism and scheme versatility make Gilmore a troublesome cornerback to focus on, and his upcoming opponents can be clever to look the opposite means.

19. Zack Martin, OG – Cowboys

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There might not be one other inside offensive lineman who instantly impacts his crew’s success the way in which this Cowboy does. The premier guard within the NFL, Martin excels as a go protector, however in his function as a run blocker, he actually makes Dallas’ offense click on. Proficient inside defenders stay as prevalent as ever, and the previous first-round decide neutralizes them on a weekly foundation.

18. Alvin Kamara, RB – Saints

The poster boy of the brand new NFL, Kamara is as dynamic a participant as this postseason has to supply. His manufacturing’s tailed off a bit not too long ago, however you possibly can wager that head coach Sean Payton’s been saving just a few set performs for Kamara in January. When the working again’s rolling, the Saints cannot be stopped. Averaging 4.6 yards per carry, hauling in 81 receptions, and totaling 18 touchdowns, he is a home-run menace on each contact.

17. Fletcher Cox, DT – Eagles

Philadelphia boasts one of many league’s prime defensive strains, and Cox is the cream of the crop. The 2012 first-rounder notched a career-high 10.5 sacks this yr and constantly made opposing linemen seem like highschool soccer gamers. He amassed the second-most quarterback pressures amongst defensive tackles, per PFF. The Eagles want their greatest participant to proceed his domination in the event that they wish to repeat as champions.

16. Tyreek Hill, WR – Chiefs

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Pundits throw the phrase “harmful” round quite a bit, however no offensive weapon can change a recreation extra shortly than Hill. Arguably the league’s quickest participant, the Chiefs receiver caught 27 passes for 20-plus yards and eight for 40-plus yards – each of which lead the NFL. Maybe most significantly, opponents must account for Hill always. If defenders’ focus even subtly lapses, he’ll be dancing in the long run zone by the point they give the impression of being again.

15. Travis Kelce, TE – Chiefs

Whereas Rob Gronkowski and Zach Ertz could object, Kelce is the highest tight finish within the playoffs. He completed with 103 catches, 1,336 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns in 2018, reliably making performs when his crew wanted him most. Whereas some may attribute his manufacturing to the Chiefs’ dynamic offense and his stud quarterback, that’d be a lazy mistake; he is higher at getting open than anybody else at his place. Solely 4 gamers had extra catches on third down that moved the chains.

14. Todd Gurley, RB – Rams

Mr. Manufacturing himself, Gurley is a real menace to attain on any play. His 21 whole touchdowns in 14 video games led all skill-position gamers – and put him forward of 11 beginning quarterbacks. The versatile fourth-year again finds his working lanes like few others and is equally harmful within the passing recreation.

13. Ezekiel Elliott, RB – Cowboys

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Elliott is probably essentially the most beneficial working again within the NFL, and the Cowboys’ offense lives and dies with him. In his third season, he led the league in dashing whereas setting profession highs in catches (77) and receiving yards (567). Dallas is 6-1 when Elliott rushes for at the very least 100 yards in 2018, creating a perfect components for achievement within the postseason.

12. Michael Thomas, WR – Saints

You do not have to observe Thomas for very lengthy to be satisfied he is bought essentially the most correct Twitter deal with within the league (@cantguardmike). The previous Ohio State Buckeye led the NFL with 125 receptions, hauling in a whopping 85.6 % of his targets. Thomas combines sturdy arms with elite route-running abilities to steer a dynamic Saints passing assault. Versatility, nevertheless, is his best asset. Thomas is harmful out extensive and within the slot, and he is utilized as a deep menace, a chain-mover, and a play-maker after the catch.

11. Philip Rivers, QB – Chargers

Although Rivers could not win MVP honors, he was nearly as good as he is ever been. The veteran was extremely environment friendly whereas constantly pushing the ball downfield. Rivers excels earlier than the snap – opposing defenses hardly ever idiot him with protection disguises. His pinpoint accuracy places his receivers in the most effective place to make a play. The Chargers fell wanting the AFC West crown, however this could possibly be the yr their quarterback leads them to a Tremendous Bowl.

10. Andrew Luck, QB – Colts

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We will not say sufficient about how unimaginable Luck was this yr. The previous No. 1 decide confirmed no rust after lacking the 2017 marketing campaign with a shoulder harm, finishing quite a lot of jaw-dropping passes. He led the Colts, who went 4-12 final season, to their first playoff berth since 2014. A shoo-in for Comeback Participant of the 12 months, Luck reclaimed his elite standing underneath new head coach Frank Reich. He may even be higher than ever.

9. Bobby Wagner, LB – Seahawks

Perennially underrated, Wagner’s one of many NFL’s greatest defenders. The Seahawks merely would not be within the playoffs with out their stud linebacker. The veteran is dominant towards the run – he missed only one sort out all yr – however it’s his go protection that actually units him aside. If it wasn’t for Aaron Donald, Wagner can be within the dialog for Defensive Participant of the 12 months.

8. Russell Wilson, QB – Seahawks

From Seattle’s most vital defender to its most vital offensive participant: Wilson threw a career-high 35 landing passes this season whereas tying a profession low with simply seven interceptions. No quarterback makes essentially the most of his environment fairly just like the one-time Tremendous Bowl champion. One of many league’s most-sacked quarterbacks, Wilson’s mobility and play-making aggression are his greatest traits – and make him a ton of enjoyable to observe.

7. J.J. Watt, DE – Texans

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In 2018, Watt reminded followers that he is among the many NFL’s best defenders. Rebounding from two straight injury-riddled campaigns, the three-time Defensive Participant of the 12 months registered 16 sacks and 7 compelled fumbles. It is virtually like there is a cause why the Texans’ scoring protection ranked inside the highest 10 throughout Watt’s final two full seasons (2015 and 2018) and out of doors the highest 10 when he missed prolonged time (together with a league-worst displaying in 2017).

6. DeAndre Hopkins, WR – Texans

Do not be afraid to say it, people: Hopkins is the league’s prime receiver. In his sixth season, he ranked third in receptions, second in yards, and fifth in touchdowns, making large play after large play. Nuk combines shifty route-running with sturdy arms and a catch radius in contrast to something we have ever seen. Maybe most impressively, he did not drop a single go on 159 targets.

5. Tom Brady, QB – Patriots

An off yr for Brady seems to be fairly darn good for anybody else. Whereas coping with suspensions, accidents, and inconsistencies at receiver and tight finish, the veteran led the NFL’s fifth-ranked offense and eighth-ranked passing assault. Brady could not have been at his greatest throughout the common season, however no participant in league historical past is a extra completed playoff performer. The 41-year-old has each probability to steer the Patriots to a different Tremendous Bowl.

4. Drew Brees, QB – Saints

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What a season for the long run Corridor of Famer. Brees was on the prime of his recreation because the Saints earned the NFC’s prime seed. He set a profession excessive by finishing 74.Four % of his passes (breaking the single-season NFL report that he set final yr) and a profession low with simply 5 interceptions. Surgically correct, Brees is getting higher with age.

3. Khalil Mack, LB – Bears

If the Bears knew what sort of influence Mack would have on their crew, possibly they might have despatched the Oakland Raiders a third first-round decide. The skin linebacker modified Chicago’s protection as quickly as he arrived, constantly abusing opposing blockers whereas making everybody round him higher. A terror in run protection, the sting rusher additionally amassed 12.5 sacks in 14 video games – his highest whole since 2015. Mack is solely unblockable at instances and he could possibly be this postseason’s greatest X-factor.

2. Patrick Mahomes, QB – Chiefs

Twelve wins, 5,097 yards, and 50 touchdowns as a first-year starter: That ought to appear absurd, however Mahomes displayed such immense expertise that his uncooked numbers aren’t so surprising. The front-runner for league MVP, he was unstoppable for lengthy stretches of the season, combining elite improvisation with unimaginable arm expertise. Any crew that desires to knock off Kansas Metropolis must outscore this gunslinger – not a straightforward process.

1. Aaron Donald, DT – Rams

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The NFL’s most dominant participant deserves the No. 1 spot. Donald led the league with 20.5 sacks – two shy of the all-time single-season report. Alongside along with his direct influence on seemingly each snap, that is unprecedented for a defensive sort out. The All-Professional lineman is a wrecking ball that merely can’t be left in one-on-one conditions, and he is a near-lock for his second straight Defensive Participant of the 12 months award.

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