NOTE: Only players currently on an active NFL roster and who played in the NFL playoffs in the past week are listed.
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills (UW)
Allen and the No. 3-seeded Bills didn’t just beat the New England Patriots in the AFC Wild Card playoff round — they stomped on them. Buffalo’s 47-17 rout of one of its AFC East rivals was the biggest playoff loss of Pats coach Bill Belichick’s career, with Allen putting in one of his finest performances as Bill with 308 yards and five passing touchdowns to go with 66 yards. floor. In fact, the former Cowboy incredibly had more passes than misses (four), while Buffalo as a team became the first in NFL history to go an entire game without punt, field kick or turnover.
Only one other player – Drew Brees in Week 12 of the 2009 season – had ever thrown five touchdowns and no interceptions in a single game against a team coached by Belichick. Brees’ New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl that year. Whether Allen can repeat the feat depends on whether Buffalo can beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round at 4:30 p.m. Sunday in Kansas City. The Bills beat the Chiefs 38–20 in Week 5 at Arrowhead Stadium, but KC has gone 11–2 since then en route to the AFC’s No. 2 seed.
Logan Wilson, LB, Cincinnati Bengals (UW/Natrona County HS)
Wilson was brilliant in his playoff debut in the AFC Wild Card Round against the Las Vegas Raiders, finishing with a record 12 tackles as the centerpiece of the Cincinnati defense. He was immense in keeping the Raiders’ offense on basket after basket, giving the Bengals’ emerging star quarterback Joe Burrow plenty of opportunities to build on a Cincinnati lead in the second half. He and the Bengals defense held firm in Vegas’ final drive, which ended with a Germaine Pratt interception of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr on fourth down to seal a 26-19 victory.
The win was Cincinnati’s first in the playoffs since the 1990-91 season, ending a 31-year drought that was the longest in American professional sports. It doesn’t get any easier for Wilson and the No. 4-seeded Bengals as they must beat the top-seeded Tennessee Titans in the Divisional Round at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Nashville to stay alive in playoffs, with the Titans likely getting All-Pro running back Derrick Henry with a broken foot that sidelined him the past nine games. Cincinnati allowed 1,742 rushing yards in the regular season, good for fifth-best in the NFL.
Marcus Epps, S, Philadelphia Eagles (UW)
Not much went right for Epps and the Eagles in the NFC Wild Card round against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady sliced and diced Philly’s secondary for 271 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 31-15 victory for the defending Super Bowl champions. Epps finished with four total tackles in the loss.
The former Poke ends his third year in the league with a new season high for total tackles (62) while adding his third career interception against the New York Jets in Week 13.
Mark Nzeocha, LB, San Francisco 49ers (UW)
Nzeocha only featured in the Niners special teams unit (where he played 76% of the snaps) against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card Round, doing his part by assisting the No. 6 seed San Francisco to shock the third-seeded Cowboys 23–17 to advance to next week’s divisional round. As the lowest-ranked team to emerge from the Wild Card, the 49ers get the top-seeded Green Bay Packers at 6:15 p.m. Saturday in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
James Johnson, F, Brooklyn Nets (Cheyenne East HS)
The former T-Bird was limited to just over 13 minutes combined against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday, but missed games against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday due to a non-COVID-related illness.
Brooklyn is 27-16 and looks well-positioned to make the Eastern Conference playoffs — barring a substantial late-season slump — as the Nets hover around the top four in the conference and don’t only need to finish eighth or higher to make the playoffs. Johnson, meanwhile, is averaging 4.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
Larry Nance, Jr., F, Portland Trail Blazers (UW)
Nance has been inactive for the Blazers since Jan. 5, first for a stint in league health and safety protocols for COVID-19 and then for a bout with knee inflammation. The team announced that an MRI revealed no serious damage and that he will be continuously reassessed.
The former Cowboy started 11 straight games for Portland before being sidelined and is currently averaging 6.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.