The best 2012 first round picks not named Andrew Luck or RG3

The season may be winding down, but the hyperbole is just getting started. The much-lauded 2012 rookie class has featured the likes of such playmakers as Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, and Doug Martin, all of whom have been fixtures in league headlines for the last 16 weeks. But what about the rest of the gang?

I’m not talking about the likes of Alfred Morris or Josh Gordon, going from draft day afterthoughts to key players in their teams’ seasons. I’m talking about the other big guns, the best of the rest who stood in the spotlight on the Radio City Music Hall stage with the commish, but have somehow ended up in the shadows during the 2012 season. Well, their relative obscurity ends today. Here are five of the best rookies from the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft you may have forgotten about:

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The Rewind: Megatron, Island of Misfit Players and other Holiday goodness

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NFL.com Illustration

We’re still in holiday mode, even though Santa didn’t bring our favorite team a playoff spot. However, jolly old St. Nick has been generous with a few other teams.  The NFC playoff spots are still up for grabs.  But even if you’ve been naughty or nice, we’re going to present you with out generous gift of content for this past week.

Sunday:

  • RG3 Zone – RG3 makes a comeback against the Eagles.  It’s like he’s never left.
  • Madden Curse Watch - Megatron transforms Jerry Rice’s all-time record.
  • Adrian Peterson – All Day Zone – All the highlights from every game Adrian Peterson’s played in as he inches closer to breaking Eric Dickerson’s all-time season rushing record.

Monday:

Week 16: Dancing with the Starters

Hope Santa delivered everything that was on your wish list this year.

We don’t have dancing elves, but we’ve got some movers and shakers on Week 16’s version of Dancing with the Starters.

Enjoy!

Unexpected (and expected) for week 16: Everyone loves kickers

Welcome to week 16, where we saw several records be broken… by kickers! There was also a 50-burger dropped in Green Bay, a real record broken in Detroit, and a heart-warming moment as the cherry on top of a wild Sunday.

Let’s get to the unexpected (and expected) for week 16.

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Greg McElroy, tackler extraordanaire

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After “winning” the starting job from turnover machine Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy showed Rex Ryan what he learned while watching Sanchez from the bench.

And it certainly wasn’t how to tackle.

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Madden curse watch week 16: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions

Historically, players who are featured on the cover of the “Madden NFL” franchise experience significant drops in their offensive production. NFL.com is tracking the performance of Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions over the course of the 2012 season because we believe Johnson will debunk the Madden curse.

It’s week 16 and with the Lions officially eliminated from the playoffs, all eyes turn to Calvin Johnson and his pursuit of Jerry Rice’s all-time receiving record.

Let’s take a look at Megatron’s quest for greatness.

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FIRST QUARTER

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The Lions receive the opening kickoff, and Matthew Stafford finds Calvin Johnson on the first play for a gain of three yards. Unfortunately, the Lions weren’t able to move the ball much more after that, and punted the ball to the Falcons after a three-and-out.

After Michael Turner rumbled for a first down for Atlanta on a short pass from Matt Ryan, the Lions defense stiffened up and forced a punt.

Taking over from their own 10-yard line, facing a third and short, Stafford again finds Johnson who streaked down the sideline for a gain of 49 yards.

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On the road with the New York Jets QBs: The Backup Trip

NFL.com Photo Illustration

NFL.com Photo Illustration

Few things can be as precious as a road trip with your mom. As the film The Guilt Trip bows in theaters Friday, I started thinking about what a road trip with my mom would have felt like. Mainly, it would have been her sleeping and pointing out things on hills. But then I thought of a better road trip. A much better one – with three people instead of two. And how would that conversation between them go?

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Tim Tebow, others stranded on the NFL Island of Misfit Players

Blog

The “Island of Misfit Toys” was an island where all of the unwanted toys were sent during the TV special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” (You really should hear Dave Dameshek’s take on Rudolph in the latest Dave Dameshek Football Program).

To be honest, I was kind of fond of the “Island of Misfit Toys.” I mean, a cowboys riding an ostrich and a bird that swims? Awesome toys. Some people have no imagination.

But the NFL has its own version with these following players:

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Tim Tebow

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Speaking of a bird that can’t fly, that reminds me an awful lot of a pass thrown by Tebow. And now his girlfriend has dumped him too?

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12 Days of Pigskin

Happy Holidays!

We here at NFL.com and NFL Network shepherded our merry crew of carolers along with some special guests to serenade you with our rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

We call ours “12 Days of Pigskin.”

You’ll see appearances by LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson and more. Enjoy!

7 signs of the Mayan apocalypse from the 2012 NFL season

NFL.com Photo Illustration

NFL.com Photo Illustration

If the Mayans are correct, the world will end tomorrow.  That, or they just got tired of scribbling in their calendars so far in advance. Nevertheless, while it’s up to you to believe or not believe, one cannot deny that the writing has been on the wall throughout this crazy NFL season. That’s right, if you’ve been paying attention there have been several signs in the NFL that the world could in fact be ending on Friday, December 21, 2012. Seven of them, in fact, by our unofficial and highly speculative calculations. If you’ve found more, feel free to leave them in the comments below, before it’s too late.

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7) The superhuman recoveries of Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning

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Sure, Peyton Manning’s recovery may have not been as marvelous as Adrian Peterson’s return from an ACL and MCL tear, but the fact that two prominent players returned from such serious injuries only to put up career numbers could easily be interpreted as a sign that the end is nigh.

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It’s Wonderful NFL Life: Reasons for hope for your team

JAMES STEWART DONNA REED THOMAS MITCHELL

Associated Press

Every year many of us gather around the TV to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a lovely Christmas tale where George Bailey is given a second chance on life after a visit from a guardian angel. And many of you are likely a little morose after your team has failed to reach the playoffs in 2012.

Well, consider me your Clarence as I show you why there is reason for hope with your favorite team.

And without further ado …

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Kansas City Chiefs

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Marty Schottenheimer says he has a great love for the Chiefs and the Hunt family. Marty was run out of town because of his playoff failures, but Chiefs fans would just like a return to the playoffs.

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The Rewind – The Hobbit, Christmas Vacations and The Immaculate Reception

hobbet back

NFL.com Illustration

One more week to get those holiday gifts.  Week 15 featured a merry band of big games, an Adrian Peterson rushing explosion and another Jets collapse. Need we mention an awesome Russell Wilson/Hobbit trailer.  It’s all covered for you in this week’s Rewind.

Sunday:

Monday:

Tuesday:
  • Tebow Zone - Tebow plays. Finally.
  • Alternative Ranking - The Jets are back. They love USC quarterbacks. Fans for Barkley.
  • The Season – The Pouncey twins.  Far apart, but closer than ever.
  • Christmas Vacations  – Inspired by Clark Griswald we give your our players and coaches who need a much needed respite.
  • The Cardboard Bio – Franco Harris – 40 years after the Immaculate Reception, we tell Franco Harris’s bio through football cards.
Wednesday:
  • Christmas Miracles – Best commercial. Best SNL appearance. A new way to vote for your favorite players.
  • Footballogy - Improv Quarterbacks. Will Ferrell. Groundlings.  Laughs. Watch!
  • Santa Letters –  NFL players like Larry Fitzgerald and coaches like Rex Ryan  write letters to Santa

Top 5 NFL teams in desperate need of a Christmas miracle

The holidays are a magical time of the year. Families come together, communities help the needy, and almost anything is possible. Including miracles. Several NFL teams are in need of such a miracle, whether for a playoff run or long-term future of their franchise. Here’s a run-down of which NFL teams are in need of a little magic this holiday season:

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Minnesota Vikings – Miracle of a playoff berth

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Adrian Peterson has had a remarkable season. The way he’s running, it doesn’t appear that anything will stop him from at the very least threatening Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record. Nevertheless, Peterson’s effort will be somewhat disappointing if the Minnesota Vikings fail to make the post-season. Right now, the Vikings are the sixth seed, but no team has a harder road to the playoffs than them – they have to travel to Houston to play the Texans, and then head back home to face the Green Bay Packers. On top of that, they need the New York Giants to lose at least once, or they’d still miss out of the playoffs even if they win out. If Peterson can pave the way for the Vikings to reach the playoffs, it would be nothing short of miraculous.

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The Cardboard Bio – Franco Harris

A “Football Life: Immaculate Reception” will debut on Wednesday night, and I’ll be honest, it should be one of the most anticipated episodes of the series. I personally can’t wait for it. And with that in mind, let’s take a look back at the career of Franco Harris through his football cards.  This will kick-off a new series we call The Cardboard Bio.

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1973 Topps #89 – Rookie Card

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francoharris1973rookie

1973 Stats: 698 yards rushing, 3 touchdowns

Realize when you see Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers running around in similar beanies, they are going for hipster cool. Franco just made this look cool.

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1974 Topps #220

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1974topps

1974 Stats: 1006 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns

You know, if Franco would have combined the beanie with his hair choice right here, we could have our NFL version of the famed Bake McBride and Oscar Gamble baseball cards of the 1980s.

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1975 Wonder Bread Card #17

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1975 Stats: 1246 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns

Forget Twinkies, these are Hostess’s all-time legacy.

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1979 Stop N’Go #13

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StopNGo1979

1979 Stats: 1186 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns

The coolest things about the 3-D cards was that they were indestructible. And believe me, I tried to rip up this card after the Steelers upset my Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV. But then again, I was five at the time. Who would have thought an impetuous sports fan as a child would grow up to be an impetuous sports fan as an adult?

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1980 Topps Super #1

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1980toppsuper

1980 Stats: 789 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns

One of the strangest phenomena of football cards during the 1980s was the lack of NFL marks on the helmets. That’s right, this isn’t merely the blank side of the Steelers helmet, this is an airbrushed Steelers helmet to remove the logo. Yes, they could have just saved a lot of time if they shot this on the other side.

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1984 Topps #165

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1984toppslastcard

1984 Stats: 170 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns

Hey look, they finally got an agreement to use NFL logos. Still should have shot the picture from the other side, just for nostalgia. Harris ended up playing the 1984 season with the Seattle Seahawks.  Where’s that card?

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1991 Pinnacle Card

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December 23, 1972

Back in 1991, Pinnacle released a card to commemorate the “Immaculate Reception.” And even they couldn’t find a conclusive angle to prove or disprove the “Immaculate Reception.” Pfft.

How much would you pay for this card with John Madden’s signature on it?

Football cards courtesy of the Beverly Hills Baseball Card Shop

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Make sure you check out “A Football Life: Immaculate Reception” and find out how the play got its name. Watch the full premiere episode on tonight at 8pm ET on NFL Network. 

During tonight’s premiere of A Football Life: Immaculate Reception play along with A Football Life Xtra. Visit nfl.com/xtra on your iPhone or iPad to download the NFL ’12 app.

7 NFL players and coaches in need of a Christmas vacation

Much like Clark Griswald in the holiday classic, Christmas Vacation, many NFL players and coaches are in need of a few relaxing days with the family (and that Christmas bonus!). Whether from a disappointing season or single-handedly carrying their team through the first 15 weeks, these players and coaches could use a little respite. And probably a large glass of egg nog.

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Luke Kuechly

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(Bob Leverone/Associated Press)

(Bob Leverone/Associated Press)

Isn’t there supposed to be some kind of a “rookie wall?” If so, no one told Luke Kuechly, who in his rookie season is second in the league with 138 total tackles. Given the Carolina Panthers propensity for letting opposing offenses run into the endzone willy-nilly, it’s as if the only person making tackles this season is Kuechly. He’s served notice to the NFC South this season that he’ll be a force for years to come, and his reward should be some rest. And an ice bath.

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The Unexpected (and expected) for week 15: No-show Sunday

It was “Statement Sunday,” which meant a slate full of fantastic games between playoff contenders. Or so we thought. Three of the six games turned out to be duds. Instead, it was just another week in the NFL where another unsuspecting man got hit in the face with a football.

Let’s get to the unexpected (and expected) for week 15.

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Spiked!

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How unlucky was this guy? Receiving the business end of a spiked football to the face was probably not on his agenda for the game.

Even worse than Danny Amendola celebrating a fourth quarter touchdown while down by 19 was his attempt to make amends… with the wrong person.

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