We're past the midway point of the NFL season, and there's a lot of moving and shaking as the playoff picture in both conferences starts to take form. Lets jump in and see what kind of impact our former ACC stars are having on the league.
Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech) went berserk - which, I suppose, he does with some frequency - in the first half of the Detroit Lions 37-27 loss to Pittsburgh - six catches, 179 receiving yards and two touchdowns. But what happened in the second half?
It was a rough afternoon for Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller (Clemson) in the Bills' 37-17 win over the New York Jets, but the fourth-year speedster isn't letting that negatively impact his confidence going forward.
Buffalo's rookie quarterback EJ Manuel (Florida State) returned to the lineup from injury two weeks ago, which has push Thad Lewis (Duke) back to the bench. Can Manuel, who has looked very sharp since getting back under center, keep up his strong play after the Bills come off of their bye this week?
Green Bay defensive tackle B.J. Raji (Boston College) is an unrestricted free agent when the 2013 season concludes. The Packers have offered him a long-term contract, which would pay him $8 million per year. Raji, however, has yet to decide on whether or not he'll sign.
A lot of people wrote off linebacker Jon Beason (Miami) after he struggled earlier this season in Carolina. However, the former Panther has found a new home in New York, where he's once again become a force in the middle of the Giants defense. This resurgence, by the way, pleases him.
Veteran San Francisco wideout Anquan Boldin (Florida State) hauled in his first TD reception since Sept. 26 during the 49ers' loss to New Orleans.
Torrey Smith (Maryland) has had a solid season - 46 receptions, 785 yards, but the Baltimore Ravens - now without Boldin - are clearly missing a big, physical presence at the other wideout spot.
The Arizona Cardinals have been waiting for two years for WR Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) to break out. Well, this past Sunday, they got what they've desired; Floyd finished with 193 receiving yards, including a 91-yard touchdown snag.
It hasn't been an easy path to professional success, but Cincinnati rookie running back Giovani Bernard (North Carolina) has - in impressive fashion - become a special football player.
Wideout T.J. Graham (N.C. State) had the finest game of his young career for the Bills this Sunday - four receptions, 74 yards and a touchdown.
Despite playing through a hamstring injury Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy (Pittsburgh) - the league's leading rusher - carved up Washington's flimsy defense on the ground and through the air. Also, Shady was NOT pleased with this fan's flag before the game!
In an epic Monday Night Football showdown, the Carolina Panthers defeated the New England Patriots. In the game, Pats defensive end Chandler Jones (Syracuse) took down Cam Newton for the 9.5 sack of his sophomore campaign.
It's been the most buzzworthy play of the NFL this week: San Francisco's Ahmad Brooks (Virginia) drilled Saints QB Drew Brees late in Sunday's matchup, which would have effectively ended the game in a win for the 49ers. However, Brooks was flagged for hitting Brees in the head/neck area, which prolonged the drive and aided in the Saints pulling out a win at home. A great deal of scuttlebutt has followed.
The Cincinnati Bengals are on a bye this week, but when they pick things back up in two weeks at San Diego, expect Brandon Ghee (Wake Forest) to see some snaps at the team's nickelback position.
Injuries to several of their skill position players have left Washington thin on the perimeter, which means they'll have to rely more heavily upon wide receiver Josh Morgan (Virginia Tech).