As we get closer to November and the stretch run in the NFL, this is when we start to see separation. Not only between the teams that are ready to contend for a championship and those waiting until May for the NFL draft, but between players as well. If you're a player who hasn't lived up to expectations, this is the time when it really counts, and when all mistakes are magnified.
We always talk about teams getting better down the stretch, but this applies to players as well. At this point in the season, teams have a book on you. They know what routes you like to run, what passes you like to throw and how to beat you one-on-one. For all teams, there are certain pivotal players who make a team go. And without them, the team will struggle in big moments.
Here is a list of five players -- and two honorable mentions -- who I think are underperforming right now, and why they need to turn it around for their respective teams to have success.
The first position you always look at when a team is underperforming is QB, and Flacco simply hasn't lived up to the expectations that come from the money the Ravens paid him this offseason. But it's not all on him. He's a QB who needs a strong supporting cast to survive. To me, the biggest problem for Baltimore's offense happened before the season, when they traded Anquan Boldin, and then Dennis Pitta got hurt. Those were the safety valves for Flacco.