Championship Sunday is more than just the quarterbacks.
Sure, Brady-Manning 17 dominated headlines for the AFC title game and Cam-Carson is a battle of former No. 1 overall picks in the NFC. But several other offensive stars are playing in both games.
Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Ronnie Hillman, Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, David Johnson, Jonathan Stewart and Greg Olsen are among the skill players who had productive seasons.
Some of the league’s best blockers will be on display, including Evan Mathis, Louis Vazquez, Mike Iupati, Ryan Kalil and Trai Turner.
A total of 11 offensive players were picked for the Pro Bowl this season, though all of them would prefer to skip it and go to the Super Bowl instead. Four are first-team All-Pros.
Here are the four offensive players to watch Sunday not named Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer or Cam Newton:
PATRIOTS: Tight end Rob Gronkowski. He’s a four-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro. Gronkowski is a beast, Brady’s go-to target and doesn’t go down easy. Gronk is 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, so he can run through arm tackles and run over defensive backs. He has five touchdown catches in his last four playoff games.
BRONCOS: Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. He’s a three-time Pro Bowl pick who has a knack for big plays. Thomas has averaged 100 receptions, 1,447 yards and 10 TDs per season since Manning joined the Broncos in 2012. His streak of TD catches in the playoffs was snapped at five games last week against Pittsburgh.
CARDINALS: Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. An eight-time Pro Bowl pick, Fitzgerald moved to the slot and caught a career-high 109 passes at 32 years old. He always turns it up a notch in the playoffs. Just ask the Packers. Fitzgerald has 912 yards receiving and 10 TDs in eight postseason games.
PANTHERS: Running back Jonathan Stewart. He had 989 yards rushing in 13 regular-season games and ran for 106 yards and two TDs last week vs. Seattle. Stewart takes pressure off Newton and keeps defenses off-balance.