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NFL Week 12: 10 Big-Time Injuries That Could Prove Costly

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NFL Injuries That Could Be Costly In Week 12

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Week 12 in the NFL has begun, and three months in, the top teams are battling for playoff positioning. The have-nots of the League may not have postseason aspirations, but don’t underestimate the driving forces of pride and money either.

One thing that all of these teams do have in common, of course, is having to deal with attrition. At this point of the season, there’s not a single squad that hasn’t been affected by injuries. Whether it’s a role player missing a few downs to get fixed up or a star out for weeks, any injury can swing a game, a division race, even the playoff picture entirely.

How teams respond to these injuries is what can define their season. Last year, when Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis missed much of the season with a triceps injury, the Ravens still made the playoffs. When Lewis returned to make his “last ride”, he became an inspirational leader once again and the rest, as they say, is Super Bowl history.

On the other side of that, of course, are the injuries that can end up sending a team into a downward spin. If a team lacks depth anywhere, games can be lost in bunches when the production disappears. With several big names nicked up as the long season wears on, that’s what this article focuses on.

Not all of these stars are going to miss this weekend’s action, and some of those that are have already been out for some amount of time. All are meant to be a major part of their team’s success. Can their teams continue to win without them?

Brandon Raper is a golf writer and NFL contributor for “Like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, and add him to your Google+ network.

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10. Trent Richardson

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Richardson’s calf injury has him listed as questionable for the Indianapolis Colts’ matchup against the Arizona Cardinals this weekend, but that’s not the only way this injury will be costly for the Colts. The Colts traded a first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns to bolster a running game, which has been lacking for years in Indianapolis. Thus far, Richardson has failed to live up to even conservative expectations. He’s losing carries to Donald Brown, so even if his lack of production doesn’t cost the team wins, the failure of the trade is becoming more evident every week.

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9. Jay Cutler

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Cutler seems to be progressing well in his recovery from an ankle injury, and backup Josh McCown has performed well in his absence. The Bears are playing a sneaky-good St. Louis Rams squad this weekend, and Chicago’s locked in a battle with Detroit for NFC North supremacy. It’s possible Cutler won’t be needed this weekend, but if McCown struggles or the Bears start to trail early, they won’t have anywhere else to turn at the signal caller position.

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8. Adrian Peterson

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Adrian Peterson struggled last week with both the Seattle Seahawks’ vaunted defense, as well as a sore groin. He insists it won’t keep him out this week against the Green Bay Packers, but since “All Day” is the only good thing happening for the Minnesota Vikings lately, anything that slows him down is bad news for the Norsemen.

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7. Calvin Johnson

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Still dealing with a knee injury, Megatron is unlikely to miss time. However, he’s going up against Darrelle Revis, who held Johnson to just one catch for 13 yards in their last matchup in 2010, and Revis is still one of the best corners in the league, despite playing for the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Johnson is the driving force of the Lions’ offense, and they’ll need him at full strength.

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6. Mike Pouncey

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As bad as things have gotten for the Miami Dolphins in the public relations department, it’s easy to forget that, at 5-5, they still have a shot at a playoff spot in the AFC. While the offensive line lost both Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin in the locker room scandal, they’ll also likely be without center Mike Pouncey for a second straight week. They face the streaking Carolina Panthers on Sunday, and must find a way to keep Ryan Tannehill standing and open holes for Lamar Miller if they have any chance at victory.

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5. Wes Welker

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If you could guess just one date that Wes Welker would have circled on his calendar, you’d have to say it would be this Sunday. After a messy split from the New England Patriots, Welker joined former rival Peyton Manning in Denver, and must have been champing at the bit for this weekend’s prime-time return to Foxboro.

Dealing with the effects of a concussion suffered last weekend, Welker is still questionable to even play in this game, and despite the Patriots’ struggles on defense, Manning can’t be looking forward to meeting Tom Brady with less than his full complement of offensive weapons.

UPDATE: Welker has been cleared to play against New England by league medical staff, and should be ready to go on Sunday night. Still, any setbacks would cost the Broncos dearly.

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4. J.J. Watt

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Watt missed some practice time earlier this week with a sore back, but the heart and soul of the Houston Texans’ defense says he’ll be ready to go against the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend. The Texans have been in a freefall over the last several weeks. Despite the Jaguars’ poor performance this year, the Texans can’t afford to lose any production on defense.

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3. Aqib Talib

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Ice up, son. Steve Smith’s short and sweet advice to the New England Patriots’ cornerback has gone viral, and Talib is still dealing with the hip injury that cost him some time in that game against the Carolina Panthers. Along with Talib, cornerbacks Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington have also been limited in practice. With Peyton Manning and the Broncos next up on the schedule, secondary issues are the last thing the Patriots need right now.

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2. Aaron Rodgers

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Having missed several games already, Rodgers’s availability this week was never in question, but the reality that the Green Bay Packers and their fans have had to come to terms with is that this team goes as Rodgers goes. Scott Tolzien, the starter against the Minnesota Vikings this weekend, has completed nearly 66 percent of his passes this year, but has thrown just one touchdown to five interceptions. The Packers are only one game back in the NFC North, but a loss this weekend could severely dampen any remaining playoff hopes in Green Bay.

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1. Sean Lee

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Lee, who has been one of the Dallas Cowboys’ best players on defense this season, is going to miss the NFC East showdown with the rival New York Giants. There are rumblings that he could be able to return from a hamstring injury as early as Thanksgiving, but more likely he’ll be out at least until a Week 14 game at Chicago. Lee has been excellent in 2013, with 93 tackles and four interceptions so far, and the Cowboys will need every bit of help they can get in that stacked division.