NFL playoffs: Each team's under-the-radar player to watch

Predictions for NFC and AFC Championships

The NFL Playoffs are in full swing, and the conference championships are getting ready to kick off on Sunday afternoon. Green Bay, Seattle, New England, and Indianapolis are all quality football teams, and both games should be very entertaining contests.

As is the case with every single NFL matchup, there are key players that have to step up in order for their teams to come away with wins. There are four players in particular that are under-the-radar key players for this weeks games, and their teams will desperately need them to come up with big performances. The Patriots and Seahawks are favored to win their games, but both the Colts and Packers are more than capable as well.

It is going to be a very fun week for any football fan, and both games are going to be competitive and hard-fought contests.

These four players have all shown flashes of being big playmakers, but they haven't been consistent. They aren't going to be the only keys for their team, but they are the type of key that could put their team over the top.

Who is the key under-the-radar player for each remaining team left in the NFL Playoffs?

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NFL playoffs: Each team's under-the-radar player to watch

Indianapolis Colts – Donte Moncrief

Donte Moncrief is without a doubt the player that the Indianapolis Colts need to step up and have a big game. The Patriots are going to put up offensive production, but their defense is what gave the Colts issues in their Week 11 matchup.

Andrew Luck will be going up against Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, which isn’t an easy task for any quarterback. In their first meeting with the Patriots this season, Luck threw for 303 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Those numbers aren’t bad at all, but they will need to be better in order to come away with a road win against the Patriots.

The Colts have a very impressive wide receiver in T.Y. Hilton, but that isn’t going to cut it against the Patriots. Luck is going to need Moncrief to step up with the defense focusing on shutting Hilton down. If he can come through with a monster performance, the Colts’ chances of defeating the Patriots would take a major leap.

During his rookie season, Moncrief ended up catching 32 passes for 444 yards and three touchdowns. He showed a lot of potential down the stretch of the season, including a monster three-catch, 134 yard, and two touchdown performance.

Indianapolis is going to need their aerial attack to step up, and Moncrief is going to be a big part of their game plan.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

New England Patriots – Chandler Jones

The New England Patriots’ defense hasn’t been bad at all this season, and they actually ended up exceeding expectations. They ended up finishing ninth in the NFL against the rush and 17th against the pass, and finished the season with 40 sacks.

Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts have the NFL’s best passing offense, and the Patriots are going to have to figure out ways to make him make mistakes. Obviously, the best way to do that is to put a lot of pressure on him with the pass rush. Chandler Jones was one of the best pass rushers on the roster this season, but finished with just 6.0 sacks.

Throughout the course of his career, Luck has had the weakness of having turnover issues. He threw 16 interceptions this season, and usually makes his mistakes when he is rushed in the pocket and panics to make a play.

Jones is going to be given one task, and that will be to find a way to get to Luck and put him on the ground. Indianapolis has had issues with their offensive line in the past this year, but they have managed to overcome those issues and make it to the AFC Championship game. The Patriots know that the main key is getting pressure on Luck, and that is something that they need Jones to do in a big way.

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Green Bay Packers – Davante Adams

The Green Bay Packers saw Davante Adams break out with a huge game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, and they are going to need another big outing from him this week.

Against the Cowboys, Adams ended up with seven receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. He made two of the biggest plays of the game in the second half, including a 46-yard touchdown catch that brought the Packers back into the game after Dallas had gone up by eight points. At 22 years of age, Adams is going to be playing in the biggest game of his life by far.

Seattle has one of the best defenses in the NFL, and ranked first against the pass. Aaron Rodgers is coming into the game with major concerns about his injured calf, and he needs his receivers to step up for him.

Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson are going to be the main priorities for the Seahawks’ defense, which makes Adams extremely valuable. He is very athletic and has proven that he can come up with huge performances in big games. Green Bay is going to have him firmly implemented into their game plan, and Rodgers gained a lot of trust in him after last week.

Expect to see Adams have a very large role for the Packers on Sunday afternoon. He has the ability to make big plays, and Green Bay is going to need that ability against Seattle.

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks – Jermaine Kearse

Jermaine Kearse isn’t a household name by any stretch of the imagination, but he is going to be asked to have a huge role on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. The Seattle Seahawks traded Percy Harvin away to the New York Jets earlier this season, and Kearse was their second-leading wide receiver in the regular season.

Green Bay’s defense has taken major strides throughout the season as far as their pass defense is concerned, and they ended up finishing the year with the 10th ranked aerial defense.

If the Seahawks want their offense to be as dangerous as it possibly can, they are going to need both Doug Baldwin and Kearse to come through with big games. Baldwin is going to be the primary concern for the Packers, which will give Kearse the opportunity to take advantage of not going up against the top cornerback. Russell Wilson has had yet another great season, and that will need to be the case once again this week.

Marshawn Lynch is going to get his numbers on the ground on Sunday afternoon, but the Seahawks need their receivers to come up with big plays throughout the game.

Kearse may not be a big name for Seattle, but they’ll need him to come through with a big game against a much improved Packers’ defense. It isn’t going to be an easy game, but Kearse has the talent to be a big factor for the Seahawks.

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Related links:
Is Andrew Luck ready to be the best QB in the AFC?
Ohio State tops way-too-early Top 25 for 2015
NFL conference championship: Who goes to the SB?

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