New Orleans Saints: 5 Players the Saints Can't Lose Going into the Playoffs

Jake Martin@JakeMartinSECCorrespondent IIIDecember 7, 2011

New Orleans Saints: 5 Players the Saints Can't Lose Going into the Playoffs

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    The New Orleans Saints are hot right now, and they can’t afford to lose any of these players if they want to make a run in the playoffs.

    It’s getting close to that time of the year again, and the Saints are winning football games and heating up at the right moment.

    But if there’s one thing that last season taught Saints fans, it’s that injuries can very well be the end of your Super Bowl dreams.

    Just look at the game against the Seattle Seahawks last year when they had absolutely no running backs left to where they had to turn to their fullback to carry the ball late in the game.

    With the playoffs approaching, these are the players who must stay healthy for another Super Bowl appearance for the Saints.

5. Will Smith

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    It’s no secret that the Saints' strength on the team is on the offensive side of the ball, so it’s imperative that they keep their key pieces on defense healthy.

    The Saints secondary has holes and can be vulnerable at times, so it’ll need to keep that pass rush flourishing. This is Will Smith’s expertise.

    Smith has a knack for getting in the quarterback’s face and disrupting his passing motions, and he’s proved that once again this year with his 5.5 sacks.

4. Jermon Bushrod

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    There’s been a lot of talk about the Saints’ duo at the guard positions on the offensive lines, and rightfully so, but Jermon Bushrod is irreplaceable.

    Bushrod is having a brilliant season and is protecting Drew Brees’ blind side magnificently.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched this guy put defensive ends on the ground, and if he continues to give Brees ample amount of time, defenses will continue to suffer.

    If you don’t believe Bushrod has done a good job this year, just go check out the footage of what he did to Dwight Freeney during the Indianapolis Colts game.

    Wait, what’s that? You didn’t know he played that game either?

3. Darren Sproles

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    He is the lightning that strikes throughout the game, and he’s the spark that makes the Saints offense nearly unstoppable.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—Darren Sproles has been the Reggie Bush that the Saints never had, and he’s proving that this year.

    Sproles is leading the league in all-purpose yards, and he’s just been a threat all over the field.

    Sean Payton and his staff have used Sproles to their advantage and he’s killed defenses at running the ball, catching the ball out of the backfield and returning kicks.

2. Jimmy Graham

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    This guy is uncoverable.

    Jimmy Graham possesses size, speed and athleticism, and it’s quite evident that no matter who lines up accross from Graham, he’ll get open.

    Graham has been Brees go-to guy all season long, and he’s developed into the best tight end in the league. Through 12 games, Graham has already reached the 1,000-yard receiving mark, and he has eight touchdowns to go along with it.

    If you look at the games that the Saints have lost this season, Graham hasn’t been as effective and only had one touchdown in those three games.

    If you look at the games that the Saints have won, Graham has flourished. You do the math.

1. Drew Brees

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    Surprise. The greatest player to ever put on a New Orleans Saints jersey just so happens to be the guy they can’t afford to lose going into the playoffs.

    As good as Sproles and Graham are, they wouldn’t be effective without the guy throwing them the football.

    Drew Brees is an unbelievable player, and his stats prove once again that he’s one of the four elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

    As good as all of those quarterbacks are, I’m happy to have Brees leading my Saints. The guy’s a playmaker, and he’s already proven that he can win the big one.

    If the Saints want to win another Super Bowl, there’s no way they can do it without Brees under center.