With division titles and playoff spots on the line in Week 17, there are a ton of important games around the NFL this upcoming weekend.
Here are five quarterbacks who must step up in Week 17 in order to either get their team into the playoffs or show that their struggles aren’t going to extend into January.
5. Matthew Stafford, Quarterback, Detroit Lions
While Detroit did win last week against the Chicago Bears, Stafford didn’t do too much to impress with just 243 passing yards and zero touchdowns. Playing nothing like he did when he faced the Bears three weeks earlier, Stafford slipped into his old habits, throwing two interceptions for the first time since Week 7.
Stafford and the Lions will need to bring their “A” game when they play at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers. This ever-so-critical game will decide whether the Lions or the Packers win the divisional title.
To make matter more interesting, Detroit has lost 23 consecutive games in the state of Wisconsin against the Packers. For his part, Stafford is 0-3 in his career at Lambeau field, but he has thrown seven touchdowns compared to three interceptions in those outings.
4. Joe Flacco, Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens
With Flacco presenting his worst performance of the season last week, causing the Ravens to lose to the Texans, he and the team are in a must-win situation in Week 17. Not only do Flacco and the Ravens need to beat Cleveland, they’ll be hoping Kansas City beats San Diego. Flacco, who was just miserable last week with 195 yards and three interceptions, has to step up in Week 17. With Cleveland only allowing 802 passing yards and four touchdowns over the last four games, Flacco has an uphill battle ahead in Week 17.
3. Andy Dalton, Quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals
While victorious over the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football, Dalton didn’t exactly play stellar football in Week 16. An opening drive pick-six only lent credence to the idea that Dalton doesn’t play clutch football. Dalton passed for only 146 yards last week, which was his third-lowest of all season.
Dalton will need to improve a great deal in Week 17, especially considering Cincinnati is taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers for the division title. More than that, he needs to prove that he can win in January.
2. Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
Luck was a disaster last week, offering up the worst performance of his career against the Dallas Cowboys. Making Dallas’ job of stopping the offense look easy, Luck didn’t provide any help to a struggling Colts. He put up just 109 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions before being benched in the third quarter.
While the Colts did not need to win this game against Dallas, Luck’s performance was really quite frightening. With six interceptions and two lost fumbles in his last four games, Luck has to step things up. He must at least present some type of decent performance this week against the Tennessee Titans prior to the Colts playing in January.
1. Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Denver Broncos
Who was the impostor in Peyton Manning’s body this past week? Manning has been incredibly disappointing over the past four weeks. Losing to the Cincinnati Bengals was almost entirely due to Manning and the four interceptions he threw on Monday night. Over his last four games, Manning has managed less than 900 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions.
With Cincinnati slated to play Sunday night, the Broncos will have to play Manning against the Oakland Raiders. This is a team that hasn’t even locked up a first-round bye heading into Week 17. And in reality, Manning must show that his struggles aren’t about to spill over into January.
Photos: USA Today