Brandon Marshall: Why He Is the Most Important Player on Any NFL Team in 2010
Even after a tough loss to the New York Jets, Brandon Marshall has emerged as the most important player on the Miami Dolphins.
Some teams in the NFL can still pull out a win without some key players, but for many, the outcome of the game depends on a single member of the team.
From quarterbacks to wide receivers, there are some players that are the ultimate deciding factor when it comes to their teams' records.
Here are the top ten most important players in the NFL this season.
10. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Why He's Needed: Chris Johnson (until the Titans lost to the Steelers in Week 2) rushed for more than 100 yards in 17 straight games. The Titans are near the bottom of the league in passing offense, so Johnson is crucial in picking up the slack when it comes to putting points on the board.
Number of Wins He'll Add for the Team: Five. The rest of the AFC South has some talent in rush defense with the exception of the Indianapolis Colts. I'll give the Titans at least one win against the Colts with Johnson earning Tennessee some serious yardage in both games.
How Far He'll Carry the Team: Since the AFC South is looking pretty good with the Colts and the Texans, I expect the Titans to finish the season with a 9-7 record.
9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Why He's Needed: The Falcons are another team to fall to the Pittsburgh Steelers early in the season, but the Dirty Birds demonstrated that they can hold their own in the NFC South with an impressive overtime win over the New Orleans Saints. Matt Ryan threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns during Sunday's game against the Saints, and even though the game came down to field goals, Ryan's command of the Falcons' offense was what enabled Atlanta to hang with New Orleans.
Number of Wins He'll Add for the Team: Ten. As the quarterback, Matt Ryan has to take responsibility for how his entire team performs. That being said, I expect the Falcons to dominate this season with Ryan at the helm.
How Far He'll Carry the Team: The Falcons are definite playoff contenders, and with last night's win over the Saints, I put them at the top of the NFC South. The Falcons finish the regular season 12-4.
8. Austin Collie, Indianapolis Colts
Why He's Needed: Sure, Peyton Manning is one of the best (if not the best) quarterbacks in the NFL, but he needs a supporting cast in order to win football games. During yesterday's game against the Broncos, Austin Collie proved himself the star of that cast with 171 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Number of Wins He'll Add for the Team: Four. Now, the Colts will definitely win more than four more games this season, but they will have to go up against some of the best passing defenses in the league when they play the San Diego Chargers, the Tennessee Titans, and even the Oakland Raiders.
How Far He'll Carry the Team: Even with a Week 1 loss to the Houston Texans, I expect the Colts to stay atop their division and finish the season 11-5.
7. Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers
Why He's Needed: Even with the absence of Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, the Pittsburgh Steelers remain undefeated so far this season. Even though the Pittsburgh defense proved to be the deciding factor in the first two games of the season, Rashard Mendenhall really stepped it up on Sunday to move the chains for the Steelers' offense. Against the Bucs, Mendenhall 143 yards and a touchdown.
Number of Wins He'll Add for the Team: Six. Pittsburgh has perfected the rush defense, so the Steelers running backs practice with the best. Many of the teams on the Steelers' schedule are relatively weak when it comes to defending the rush, so I expect Mendenhall to capitalize on the lack of pressure.
How Far He'll Carry the Team: I'll go ahead and say it: The Steelers are the best team in the NFL. They can win without a superstar quarterback, and they'll dominate the AFC North this season. They'll head to the playoffs with a 13-3 record.
6. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
Why He's Needed: The poor 49ers are looking terrible this season with their 0-3 record, but we have seen glimmers of hope from running back Frank Gore. The Chiefs were able to keep Gore to under 50 yards, but last Monday's 112 yards against the New Orleans Saints showed that Gore can step up and be the workhorse of the San Francisco offense.
Number of Wins He'll Add for the Team: Eight. The 49ers have quite a bit of work to do if they are going to contend in the already weak NFC West. Gore will really have to step it up in the coming weeks, or the 49ers' season will be doomed.
How Far He'll Carry the Team: Unless the 49ers can make a drastic turnaround, the best they can hope for this season is 8-8.
5. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
Why He's Needed: Drama aside, Michael Vick has proved himself to be the right choice at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. During yesterday's game against the Jags, Vick was almost perfect when throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for another.
Number of Wins He'll Add for the Team: Eight. Vick has faced some pretty weak opponents in the Lions and the Jaguars, and we will see his true talent as the season progresses.
How Far He'll Carry the Team: The Eagles are looking like the best team in the NFC East, and I think they can stay that way. They'll end the regular season 10-6.
4. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Why He's Needed: Frankly, because he is the only thing the Vikings offense has going for it.
Number of Wins He'll Add for the Team: Eight. Peterson will carry the Vikings offense all season, and until another player steps up to take some of the weight off of his shoulders, he will continue to be the main contributor in every Vikings win.
How Far He'll Carry the Team: Depending upon how well the Chicago Bears perform this season (starting with their game against Green Bay tonight), the Vikings will be competing for the No. 2 slot in the NFC North. They'll finish the season 8-8.
3. Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns
Why He's Needed: Even though the Browns are 0-3 this season, we have seen some outstanding performances from running back Peyton Hillis. Not only did he rush for 144 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, but he did so against a very talented Baltimore Ravens defense.
Number of Wins He'll Add for the Team: Four. Even though the Browns avoided a blowout with the Baltimore Ravens, they will yet again find themselves at the bottom of the AFC North. We will see glimmers of hope when the Browns beat the Bills and the Jaguars, but Cleveland will have yet another losing record this season.
How Far He'll Carry the Team: As much as I want the Browns to do well this season, I have to be realistic. They will finish 4-12.
2. Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Ravens
Why He's Needed: Joe Flacco is starting to look more comfortable at quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, and he has Anquan Boldin to thank for his success at the helm of the Ravens' offense. Against the Cleveland Browns, Flacco completed to Boldin for all three of Baltimore's touchdowns.
Number of Wins He'll Add for the Team: Eight. Even though the Ravens will rely upon their defense to keep them ahead in many games, Anquan Boldin has emerged as the favorite target of Joe Flacco. Boldin has the athleticism to make the big plays for the Ravens.
How Far He'll Carry the Team: This season, the battle for the top of the AFC North will be between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens, and I expect the Ravens to end the season 11-5.
1. Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins
Why He's Needed: The Dolphins suffered their first loss of the season yesterday when they faced the New York Jets, but Brandon Marshall has been building momentum all season. With 166 receiving yards and a touchdown, he is definitely the most valuable offensive player on the Dolphins.
Number of Wins He'll Add for the Team: Eight. The next few games will be quite the challenge for Miami, but the Dolphins have proved that they can perform on the road.
How Far He'll Carry the Team: The AFC East (minus the Bills) is one of the strongest divisions in the NFL, and the Dolphins will work hard for a 10-6 record.