In the spirit of the Salute to Service campaign, former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks spotlights players who are poised to have hero-like performances for their respective teams in Week 13:
The NFL's third-leading rusher is coming off a remarkable 182-yard effort against the New Orleans Saints that suggests he is emerging as a premier back in the Ravens' system. Forsett is not only a patient runner with exceptional vision and awareness, but he displays the dynamic stop-start quickness to slip through cracks at the point of attack.
Against a Chargers defense that's allowed 100-plus rushing yards in five of the last six outings, Forsett could notch his fourth 100-yard game of the season and break off a few more runs of 20-plus yards, to extend his league lead in the category (13). If Forsett helps the Ravens rush for at least 120 yards (Baltimore is 7-0 when hitting that mark), the team should remain right in the thick of an extremely tight AFC North race.
Facing a beleaguered Saints defense that couldn't contain the Ravens' running game on Monday night, the Steelers could elect to pound Bell on a host of power runs between the tackles. With Ben Roethlisberger prone to target Bell on swings, screens and dump-offs, the second-year standout could single-handedly carry the Steelers to an important non-conference win.
It's hard to imagine the Giants' defense putting together an impressive performance, based on their recent struggles, but the opportunity to play against a turnover-prone rookie quarterback could help New York get back on track.
Blake Bortles leads the NFL with 15 interceptions and his questionable decisions from the pocket will give Giants defenders plenty of chances to nab a takeaway. Given the impact that pre-snap disguising and pocket pressure can have on a young passer, Bortles could struggle to put up numbers against New York's veteran secondary.
Manning could make this list every week, given his consistent track record of production, but he has been particularly dominant against the Chiefs throughout his career. The five-time MVP enjoys a 10-1 record against Kansas City, with a 23:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 100.9 passer rating.
With the Chiefs reeling from the loss of Eric Berry, Manning could come out in attack mode in this crucial AFC West battle. Manning will have plenty of chances to throw the ball down the field to Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders against one-on-one coverage, favorable matchups that the future Hall of Famer should capitalize on.
The Cowboys' surprising rise in 2014 has been fueled by the spectacular play of DeMarco Murray -- and, of course, the offensive line paving the way for the running back -- but the team still relies on the heroics of Romo in the clutch. The veteran has been sensational in the fourth quarter this season, completing 73.3 percent of his passes and compiling a 114.8 passer rating. Regardless of what some might believe, Romo shines when the game is on the line, as evidenced by his NFL-best 13 game-winning drives since 2012. With a 6-1 record on Thanksgiving Day and a 16-1 career record at home in November, Romo is primed to have an extraordinary performance against an Eagles secondary that's been susceptible to the deep ball.
There is no doubt that Lynch remains the Seahawks' most important offensive weapon, despite all the speculation that his time in Seattle is winding down. The eighth-year pro continues to set the tone for the offense with his hard-charging running style and steady production. Lynch is the NFL's fifth-leading rusher with 852 yards, and he has also piled up 290 receiving yards on 27 receptions.
Given Lynch's overall importance, the 49ers will enter the game intent on slowing down the Bay Area native. San Francisco's defense ranks as one of the NFL's stingiest against the run, allowing 92.9 yards per game (seventh in the league). Although the unit has allowed just nine 100-yard rushers since 2011, Lynch has topped the century mark four times against the 49ers. In a game with major playoff implications, Lynch will get plenty of opportunities to test the heart of the 49ers' defense as the focal point of a run-centric game plan.