The playoffs edge closer. Fingernails become progressively shorter. You-know-what’s tightened up.
In the run for the finals and within the games themselves – fans, coaches and players alike look towards the sky and pray for someone special to provide a spark to get their team across the line.
Highlight reels don’t necessarily mean a production of consistency. Moments of amazing skill can turn the tide within a match and even a complete season.
At the top of the NFL divisional standings, it is tighter than the grip of a fat guy on a box of Krispy Kreme’s (otherwise known as yours truly). To make or break their season, each franchise has a player with the x-factor who can be that game changer.
For the outfits not quite at the top of the stack but well in contention for a playoff berth, here are my top five talismans in the NFL.
Odell Beckham Jr – New York Giants
We have all seen the man in action. We know what ridiculous feats he can achieve on the pitch and his influence is now bringing the Giants into good form.
The New York number 13 has moved up to fourth overall in total receiving yards in the NFL with 1173 at 85.3 average per game, scoring 10 touchdowns in the process.
His football has been more than solid, reaching at least 94 yards in four of his last six games with five touchdowns. When OBJ comes to play, the opposition better beware.
Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions
It was a common phrase ushered from all parts of the football world – “Matthew Stafford will be no good without Calvin Johnson to throw to”.
Cue the game show buzzer… BAAAAAAARRRRRRPPP! Wrong answer!
The former No. 1 draft pick has arguably been the best performed quarterback across the past two NFL seasons. He has particularly stood up following the retirement of his number one weapon “Megatron” Johnson.
What he has added to his rocket launcher of an arm is a calm presence in the pocket. The best QBs have that and it will be hugely important in the Lions’ quest for the post-season.
Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts
The Colts playoff aspirations would have been cut to ribbons had it not been for some brilliant work for their main man Andrew Luck.
The former No. 1 draft pick has rescued his side on multiple occasions this season and now has them sitting at 7-7, just a win in arrears of both the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans in the AFC South.
Luck’s biggest partner in crime has been the evasive T.Y. Hilton, however Col Beasly and Alfred Morris will also play critical roles in their final two games.
Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If Tampa Bay was as high a profile team as New York, Evans would be talked about in the same breath as OBJ.
The Texas A&M product has 1,159 yards for the season and 10 touchdowns to his name. His highlight reel is equally impressive with a great pair of “sticky” hands.
His past few games don’t make for great reading numbers wise, but if not shown the respect he deserves, Evans can light up a game as bright as a decent Christmas tree.
DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans
The Murray of old has returned. He looks more and more like the running back that gave the all-time season rushing record a shake with the Cowboys a couple of seasons ago.
DeMarco has been a driving force behind the Titans 8-6 record, alongside second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota and tight end Delanie Walker.
The 28-year old is second in league rushing yards with 1,224, some 300 yards behind rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliott. Devastating with ball in hand, the Titans are best served when Murray is in full flight.