Throughout the NFL season, teams find out fairly quick who their dynamic and consistent players will be for the year. Every team has their star, but there are always players behind the scenes who can come up big in crucial times. This is especially true in the playoffs as unnoticed players tend to make plays throughout the game that can often decide the contest. Let’s look at three players to watch in this Saturday’s matchup between the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots. None of these players are unknown, but they are definitely not the stars of their team.
Brian Orakpo has been a solid addition at linebacker for the Titans since he arrived in 2015. On the year, Orakpo had thirty tackles and seven sacks for the defense. The former Texas Longhorn standout was a Pro Bowler for the Titans last year and needs to play like one this Saturday for Tennessee.
Awful, awful play by Cam Robinson. Blake Bortles fumbles on sack by Brian Orakpo. pic.twitter.com/9cCasqaLxC
— Big Cat Country (@BigCatCountry) September 17, 2017
Tennessee’s defense must put pressure on Tom Brady if they want to be in this game for four quarters. Orakpo is no Von Miller, but he needs to look to disrupt the Patriots legend like Miller did a few years back on the Broncos’ Super Bowl run. If he can rush Brady’s throws or sack him a few times, it would greatly help Tennessee’s chances of winning.
Odd enough as it is, the long-time Steeler James Harrison is currently on the New England Patriots after signing with them in late December. In his fifteenth season, Harrison knows the playoffs and knows them well as he was in competing for championships nearly every year with Pittsburgh. Though he is old, he can still play with the younger guys and bully them around with his strength as he did to Jets Wide Receiver Robby Anderson late in the season.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 31, 2017
Harrison had somewhat of a falling out with the Steelers before he was released and most definitely would like to play them again. Letting Harrison’s fuel take over this game to get to the Steelers next round would not bode well for the Titans. Taylor Lewan and company will need to keep an eye on Harrison to ensure he does not make any key plays that could hurt the Titans chances of winning.
Perhaps the most interesting player in this game is former Patriot cornerback Logan Ryan. Ryan was acquired by the Titans this offseason and has been a great help for the Titans secondary. He is more than likely the Titans best corner and could prove key to eliminating some of Brady’s targets Saturday.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 19, 2017
Ryan made some fantastic open field plays on the speedy Tyreek Hill last week against Kansas City. Perhaps he can do the same when matched up with the electric Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks. There is no denying Ryan would love to have a stellar performance against his old teammates.
While these three players are not the stars of the game, look for each of them to try and leave their mark on the contest somehow, especially in crunch time.