One Player from Each Team Their Division Rivals Would Like to See Gone
Each team in the NFL has a difference maker—that one player that, if he wasn't there, could change the fortunes of that franchise for the worse.
I'm sure if each team had its way it would trade away that player from its rival.
This article will take a look at each NFL division and the one player their rivals would like to see gone.
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Buffalo Bills: Lee Evans. It's really tough to pick out a Bill that is "the guy." The team has been down for so long it isn't hard to forget that it's actually a franchise. However, through constant quarterback changes Lee Evans has been the go-to guy for all of them. He's the Bills' playmaker and responsible for their brightest moments the past couple of seasons.
Miami Dolphins: Jake Long. Not too many teams lynch-pin player is an offensive lineman, but dominating ones like Long are guys you build around for the future.
New York Jets: Darell Revis. Shut-down corners are few and far between. There are good corners and then there are corners who eliminate a team's top receiver completely. Revis gives the Jets the upper hand and is why a guy like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning has to look elsewhere to complete passes.
New England Patriots: Tom Brady. This one is a no-brainer. Without Tom Brady there aren't three Lombardi Trophies in Boston right now; heck, there might not even be the four AFC championship trophies he helped earn either.
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Baltimore Ravens: Terrell Suggs. This could have easily been Ray Lewis since he is the heart and soul of the Ravens defense, but he is no longer the best player on that defense. Suggs is. And when you're a team that lives and dies by its defense you need your best player out there, a player I'm sure the rest of the AFC North wouldn't mind seeing out of the division.
Cincinnati Bengals: Chad Ochocinco. Ochocinco didn't make this list because the other teams in the AFC North fear him; he's on here because the rest of the North would want him gone so they don't have to hear his mouth two times a year. But then again, Ochocinco is so loud even if he was playing soccer in Europe they'd still hear his trash talking.
Cleveland Browns: Peyton Hillis. Defensive players are a proud bunch and you'll rarely hear them moan about playing against anyone. However, there is one guy even the most fierce linebackers don't want to see in the open field: Peyton Hillis. The guy is a freight train and he usually hands out more punishment on a tackle than he receives.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger. Though the Steelers (like the Ravens) are known for their punishing defense, you can't overlook that fact that over the course of their Super Bowl appearances that Big Ben's clutch plays were keys to their success. Though their defense can win them a lot of games, it's Roethlisberger who wins them the big ones.
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Houston Texans: Andre Johnson. Johnson is the prototypical NFL wide-out. He's tall and fast and has one other quality that makes him one of the best receivers in the league. He's big. The guy is a rock and when the gets the ball in the open field he's tough to bring down.
Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning. Like this wasn't a shocker. Manning is the heart and soul of the Colts and if it wasn't for him there is a good chance they'd still be the laughing stock they were when they drafted him. You take Manning away from the Colts and you probably have the Buffalo Bills or Cleveland Browns.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew is a dominating running back that has game-changing abilities. The Jags usually go the way of Jones-Drew: If he has a good game they're in a position to win, but if he has an off day then they're sunk.
Tennessee Titans: Chris Johnson. Through the unstable waters that has been the Titans the past couple of seasons Chris Johnson has been a rock solid player. He's broken through in games that looked lost but have helped the Titans pull themselves out.
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Denver Broncos: Kyle Orton. For the past two seasons Orton has been one of the few bright spots on the Denver Broncos. He has been one of the better quarterbacks the past two seasons and helped Denver get off to its great start in 2009. Given that Tim Tebow isn't quite ready to be a franchise quarterback, the rest of the West would love to see Orton shipped out and they might get their wish. The Broncos haven't yet recovered from sending Hillis and two picks to Cleveland for Brady Quinn—can they really trade away Orton and hope that Tebow will play better?
Kansas City Chiefs: Tamba Hali: Hali is a scary, scary linebacker that reminds many Chiefs fans of Derrick Thomas. Last season he had 14.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Right now I can think of three quarterbacks who'd love to see him out of the AFC West.
Oakland Raiders: Darren McFadden. McFadden had a break-out year last season and was the one constant in the ever-changing three-ring circus that was the Raiders' quarterback situation. His 1,600 total yards helped the Raiders to a respectable 8-8 and now that the Raiders seem to have settled on Jason Campbell as their QB. McFadden could be a big reason why the Raiders might actually make the playoffs in 2011.
San Diego Chargers: Philip Rivers. Like Manning, Rivers is the competitive, highly talented quarterback that saves an elite team from being pedestrian. The Chargers had a lackluster beginning to the season last year but that was mainly due to poor special teams play and not because of Rivers and the Chargers' high-flying offense. Take Rivers away from the Chargers and you just have Norv Turner and the 1997 Washington Redskins, and no one wants that.
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Dallas Cowboys: DeMarcus Ware. Ware has been a destructive force on the Cowboys defense for the past six seasons. He has been a stable part in a rather unstable team as of late and is a true leader on the defense. Without him the Cowboys defense has no identity and he'll be a big part of any success the Cowboys have in 2011.
New York Giants: Justin Tuck. When the Giants defensive coordinator draws up a play he puts a sub play in there for Tuck that reads "Kill the QB." Tuck has the perfect combination of speed—to get by blockers—and strength—to bruise and scare the crap out of quarterbacks. If Tuck were ever to leave the NFC East few quarterbacks would miss him.
Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Vick. Vick might be the sole reason why the Eagles made the playoffs last season. His unbelievable play on the field saved several drives for the Eagles and he did things Kevin Kolb just can't do. Had Kolb not gotten hurt in Week 1 against the Packers then the Eagles probably wouldn't have made the playoffs and would have been middle-of-the-road 8-8.
Washington Redskins: LaRon Landry. With the speed of a corner and the size and strength of a linebacker, Landry shouldn't exist and probably should be illegal in 48 states. His presence on the Redskins certainly makes them a better team, but the reason why the other teams in the division would like to see him gone is for the longevity of their own careers. Landry is like a bull and he tries to demolish any color on the field that isn't burgundy and gold. If a pass is thrown too far away for a receiver's body and Landry's around that normally reliable receiver suddenly gets alligator arms.
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Chicago Bears: Lance Briggs. This could have easily been Jay Cutler, but the Bears have always been known for their punishing defense and Briggs is leading that charge. In spite of the shabby offensive line play of the Bears, their defense kept them in games.
Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh. The Lions may have finally figured out how to build a team. They've got the franchise quarterback and receiver, and their defense is starting to become a scary thing. Leading the way last season was Suh. He helped turn the Lions from doormat to force, and I'm sure the quarterbacks of the NFC North would love to see him elsewhere.
Green Bay Packer: Aaron Rodgers. It comes as no shock that if the NFC North could only get rid of one Packer it would be Aaron Rodgers. I mean, after all, he is the current Super Bowl MVP and has made TitleTown forget the name Brett Favre—well, for at least for a season he has.
Minnesota Vikings: Brett...Nah, just kidding. Adrian Peterson. With his speed, elusiveness and power, "All Day" is a threat to take it to the house whenever he touches the ball. Even before Favre he was leading the charge and making the Vikings relevant again, and that was with teams stacking eight guys in the box. This season could be a huge one for Peterson if there is a decent quarterback under center and teams can't key on him every down.
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Atlanta Falcons: Roddy White. It's sometimes hard to put a receiver over a quarterback since the quarterback has to throw the ball to him, but it seems that every time Matt Ryan threw the ball to White, White would make either a dazzling catch or pick up huge gains afterward. Take away White and the Falcons are still a good team—their offense just isn't as explosive.
Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton. For the past two seasons there has been little to get excited about in Carolina. This is precisely why Newton is the guy on this team that the rest of the South would rather not see. Who knows if Newton will be a star in this league, but I do know that with his athleticism he'll make some plays for the hapless Panthers and probably give opposing defenses fits from time to time. I honestly can't say that about anyone else on the Panthers roster.
New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees. The Aints are no more and a big contributing factor to that has been Drew Brees. He's gone from a pretty good quarterback in San Diego and New Orleans to an elite quarterback in the past three seasons. The Saints' success has rested on Brees' arm. He gets them out to early leads, which makes the other offense one dimensional and allows Greg Williams' blitz-happy defense to tee off on opposing quarterbacks. I think the South would love to see Brees back in San Diego.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Freeman. The Bucs were a pleasant surprise last season and almost made the playoffs. A lot of that was because of young quarterback Josh Freeman. The second-year quarterback took the NFL by storm and only looks to improve. The Bucs—who are way under the cap and with new rules in place will have a lot to spend, in the ballpark of $50 million—could very well add a few weapons that might help Freeman make the leap from good quarterback to great quarterback. Heck, he might even knock on the doorstep to elite. With the right help, that is.
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San Fransisco 49ers: Frank Gore. Through all the quarterback changers, hiring and firings of coaches and all the other upheaval and turmoil in the Bay area there has been one constant, and that is Gore. Usually the Niners go the way of Gore. If he has a good game they have a chance to win; however, if the opposing defense shuts him down the Niners are generally toast.
St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford. The Rams are an up-and-coming team in the NFL and were so close to winning the NFC West last season, and a lot of that was because of the confident play of quarterback Bradford. He's looking to only get better and so do the Rams.
Seattle Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch. Lynch showed exactly why the Seahawks traded for him last season when he sealed the victory over the heavily favored Saints in the Wild Card round of the 2010-2011 playoffs. With a big question mark at quarterback for the Seahawks next season it stands to reason that any success they have on offense will be generated by Lynch.
Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald. I don't think there is even a question of the one player the rest of the NFC West would love to see leave the division. Fitzgerald is a freak of nature on the football field and no matter where the ball is thrown in his general direction there is a good chance that he'll find a way to make the catch. Now, of course the Cards just need to find a guy to throw him the ball. Kevin Kolb maybe?