5 Players Who Will Surprise In The NFL Playoffs | Cowboys Running Back Tony Pollard Is A Sleeper

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 19: Running back Tony Pollard (20) of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after a first quarter touchdown in the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The NFL playoffs are slated to begin with Super Wild Card Weekend. Football fans will be locked in on games being played on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. There are players who step up in every postseason and introduce themselves to the world in dramatic fashion. The performances are often unexpected.

Here are five players who could bust out with huge contributions. 

Tony Pollard — Dallas Cowboys (RB)

The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of star power on both sides of the football. Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliott, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz lead the Cowboys’ No.1-ranked scoring offense during the regular season. 

With all that weaponry it’s easy to overlook the talented scatback from Memphis, Tony Pollard. He brings a change of pace to the run and passing game and allows Zeke to rest and protect that bulky knee.

Pollard has elite lateral quickness and stop-and-go ability. He could be a key piece in the team’s opening-round matchup against the physical Niners. During the regular season Pollard averaged 5.5 YPC. And although he didn’t touch pay dirt often (two touchdowns), he’s certainly capable of making a game-changing play. 

 

Hunter Renfrow — Las Vegas Raiders (WR)

The unassuming former Clemson Tiger, who caught the game-winning touchdown in the 2016 CFP title game, has been a pleasant surprise for the “Rayduhs.” 

His route-running and craftiness make up for his lack of vertical speed. He always seems to be open. QB Derek Carr often targets Renfrow on third downs. A guy with 103 receptions for 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns probably shouldn’t surprise teams anymore, but defenses still seem to overlook him weekly, and he makes them pay.

 

Byron Pringle — Kansas City Chiefs (WR)

The K.C. Chiefs have been searching for a second wideout to complement all-world speedster Tyreek Hill. Reek and tight end Travis Kelce did the heavy lifting until others began to get more comfortable in that role. But Byron Pringle seems to have solidified himself as the No. 2 wideout. His numbers aren’t eye-popping, but it’s obvious that a chemistry is developing between the young receiver and Patrick Mahomes.

Pringle reached career highs in receptions with 63 en route to five touchdowns. His 13.5 YPC average ranks third behind Reek and Kelce on the team. He’s vital for the Chiefs’ offense in the playoffs. With Hill hobbled and Kelce facing constant double-teams, Pringle will need to win his matchup.

 

Elijah Mitchell — San Francisco Niners (RB)

The Niners lost starting tailback Raheem Mostert to a knee injury after Week 1 of the season. That put rookie Elijah Mitchell right in the thick of things in the backfield. The talented rook has been up to the task in Kyle Shanahan’s dynamic zone running scheme. Mitchell broke the franchise rookie rushing record held by Vic Washington (811 yards) since 1971. Mitchell finished just 37 yards shy of 1,000 yards for the season, with some of his carries going to wideout Deebo Samuel in Shanny’s diverse attack. 

Mitchell has given the Niners an every-down back with receiving capabilities. His downhill running style is going to be vital against a Cowboys defensive front built to rush the passer. He and Deebo will go a long way in determining whether the Niners advance.

Josh Sweat — Philadelphia Eagles (Edge)

The Philadelphia Eagles travel to Tampa to face the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. The Eagles need to keep a consistent rush on 44-year-old Tom Brady in order to have any chance to upset the Bucs. 

Edge rusher Josh Sweat is capable of affecting games with his pass rush ability, and he’s also been solid against the run this season. His sack numbers (8.0) don’t tell the story of the former No. 1 overall recruit and FSU Seminole.

Sweat is a model of perseverance, having overcome so many injuries to be here today. Prior to his injuries, his “get off” from the edge was elite, and although still very good, it’s nowhere near where it was. He excels at using his hands and shedding blockers to affect the QB. Eagles will need that and more against the Bucs, but it starts with Sweat.


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