P Brad Nortman, Carolina Panthers
By now, many of you are thinking that I must have numerous Brad Nortman memorabilia laying around my house and that I'm some sort of Nortman-groupie who doesn't miss a Carolina Panthers game because that would mean missing one of Nortman's punts.
Well that just isn't the case. I promise.
What is the case, however, is that Nortman (2008-11) is having his best season of his career (okay, yes I am aware that he is only in his second season in the NFL but with the season the rest of the Badgers are having in the NFL you have to grab a hold of anything that is a positive so we're going to go with it).
Six punts for 292 total yards (48.7 average), one touchback, and three punts that pinned the Atlanta Falcons (4-12) inside their own 20 helped Nortman wrap up the 2013 regular season in style. 70 punts, 3,344 yards (47.8 average), 25 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line, a mere five touchbacks, and a net punt average of 41.6 was Nortman's final stat line for the season. His total yards, punt average, season long (72), touchbacks, touchback percentage (7.1), and net average were all career-bests for Nortman. He finished the regular season fourth in the league in punt average and fifth in net average.
The Carolina Panthers (12-4) clinched the NFC South and can enjoy a bye-week as the NFC's No. 2 seed.
DE J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
2012 J.J. Watt did no favors in the expectations department for 2013 J.J. Watt. After being named defensive player of the year on the back of his 20.5 sacks a year ago, Watt (2009-10) - although not as bad as the 2-14 Houston Texans - had a relatively disappointing season.
80 tackles (one less than 2012), 65 solo tackles (four less than 2012), 22 tackles for loss (20 fewer than 2012), 10.5 sacks (10 fewer than 2012), seven pass deflections (nine fewer than 2012), and 15 stuffs (eight fewer than 2012) help to make up Watt's 2013 season statistics which were inflated due to a monster performance in the Texans' 16-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans (7-9).
Watt had nine tackles (all solo), five TFLs, two QB hits, one pass deflection, and one sack - which ended his career-long four game sack-less streak.
After the game, Watt expressed his frustration with the season but seemed grateful that it was finally over and done with.
"I'm sure a lot of guys, just like me, are ready to move on and get to work in the offseason and never let this happen again."
The Houston Texans will pick first overall in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft.
QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson had a perfect 14-0 home record as the Seattle Seahawks (13-3) starting quarterback until the Arizona Cardinals (10-6) came into CenturyLink Field in Week 16 and put an end to that. Wilson (2011) and the Seahawks got back to their winning ways in the team's 27-9 victory over the St. Louis Rams (7-9) on Sunday.
The second-year QB went 15-of-23 for 172 yards and threw for one touchdown in the win, which helped to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs for the NFC West champions.
Wilson's season statistics are not wildly impressive but they are respectable. Seattle's leading-man completed 63.1 percent of his passes (257/407) for 3,357 yards, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions, and eight fumbles with a QBR of 58.9. Wilson's yardage and interception total, however, were both career-bests (I know, I know...same case with Nortman and this being just his second year but it's still something to grab onto) and his touchdown aggregate tied a previous career high.
To Wilson's credit, he did attempt the 16th fewest passes per game (25.4) among starting quarterbacks this season and he had the third highest average per attempt (8.2) among starting quarterbacks who completed at least 200 passes.
The Seattle Seahawks have a bye-week before taking on the highest remaining seed in the NFC Divisional Round between the No. 4 Green Bay Packers, No. 5 San Francisco 49ers, and the No. 6 New Orleans Saints.
Other notes from Badgers in the NFL:
- 2013 second-round pick, running back Montee Ball (2009-12) had 10 carries for 72 yards and three receptions for 22 yards in the Denver Broncos' 34-14 win over the Oakland Raiders. The Broncos clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC and have a bye-week in the first round of the playoffs.
- 2011 second-round pick, tight end Lance Kendricks (2008-10) had a team-high five receptions on a team-high six targets for a team-high 72 yards in the St. Louis Rams' 27-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The Rams did not earn a playoff berth.
- 2009 third-round pick, DeAndre Levy (2005-08) had seven tackles and one pass deflection in the Detroit Lions' 14-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in what was the final game at the Metrodome. The Lions did not earn a playoff berth.
- Matt Shaughnessy (2005-08) had four tackles and one QB hit in the Arizona Cardinals' 23-20 overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The 10-win Cardinals did not earn a playoff berth.
- Capital One Bowl 2014 preview: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
- Nigel Hayes named Big Ten Freshman of the Week
- Wisconsin women's hockey: Former Badgers steal spotlight vs. Canada in St. Paul
- Remembering Wisconsin's 1993 Rose Bowl run: The season that launched a Badgers love affair
- Wisconsin vs. Prairie View A&M recap: Badgers finish non-conference schedule undefeated after 80-43 win