Matthew Stafford and 5 Players That Teams Can't Afford to Lose

Ryan Alfieri@Ryan_AlfieriCorrespondent IIISeptember 11, 2011

Matthew Stafford and 5 Players That Teams Can't Afford to Lose

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    I'll just go ahead and say it: The Lions are one of the most talented teams in football. The only thing that has been holding them back from contention is the health of their prized quarterback, Matthew Stafford.

    The interesting thing about Stafford's health issues in the NFL is that he never had injury problems when he was at Georgia. Blame Detroit's bad luck, but Stafford's inability to stay on the field is a new phenomenon for him. 

    In his season debut this Sunday against the Buccaneers, Stafford showed just how potent this Detroit offense can be with Stafford pulling the trigger. Stafford was 24-for-33 passing for 305 yards and three touchdowns. If Stafford can continue to pour points onto opposing teams, that vicious defensive line can pin their ears back and get after the quarterback. The Lions are a better team in every facet with Stafford in the lineup. 

    Here are five other players who are too vital to their respective teams to lose. 

Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts

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    Before their game against the Texans, several Colts were insistent that the team was about more than No. 18.

    Boy, were they wrong.

    Judging by happened in Sunday's game, the Colts look like the worst team in football without Peyton Manning. It goes beyond the passing game. They cannot run the football or maintain balance. Their undersized defense is used against them rather than to their advantage.

    No team is more reliant on a single player than the Colts are on Manning.  

Darrelle Revis, New York Jets

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    There is no question that Revis is the best corner in football. He takes away the opposing team's top target with little or no help on a consistent basis. 

    What Revis does allow Rex Ryan is the ability to employ all kinds of exotic blitz schemes and roll his coverages in a way that no other team can. Since Revis' breakout season in 2009, the Jets have not ranked lower than third in total defense. Without their top defense, this team does not go on the deep playoff runs they have enjoyed over the past two seasons.

    When Revis was out of the lineup early in 2010, the Jets' pass defense suffered greatly. If the Jets want to return to the AFC title game, they need Revis to be upright for the whole season.  

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

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    Rivers not only makes some throws that are truly rare, but he does it when pressure is right in his face, over and over again. He is the face of the franchise and is what makes that offense so potent, no matter who he is throwing to. 

    During Vincent Jackson's holdout last season, Rivers never missed a beat with a less-than-spectacular receiving corps. If Rivers ever goes down, he will take the Chargers' season with him. 

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams

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    What makes Bradford so impressive is how productive he is with arguably the worst receiving corps in football. However, he had an injury history at Oklahoma, and the bug came back to bite him earlier today.

    However, he left the game against the Eagles and he appears to have suffered nerve damage and will undergo an MRI tomorrow. 

    Rams fans are hoping they don't have to go back to life without Bradford. 

DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys

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    With the Cowboys secondary already banged up (and not that good to begin with), the Cowboys are going to lean on yet another monstrous season from Ware to help offset their holes in the back end. 

    If Ware ever was to go down, the Dallas pass defense would start to look a lot like the Texans' pass defense of 2010—that is, bad on historic levels. Their run defense would suffer greatly as well. In fact, I would say the Cowboys are one awkward tackle away from having the worst defense in football.