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5 players that will impact the NFC playoffs
By James Paronne
Special to gzl-football.com

Every team has a superstar on it that as they go the team goes. It's the not so obvious players on these teams that will decide how far their teams go in the playoffs, or if they even make the playoffs.

Dallas Cowboys-CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah-He isn't the best CB on the team, but he is their best playmaker. Last year he had a MVP type season. 11 interceptions and 41 deflections. He also returned 2 of those interceptions for TD's. The Cowboys have a talented secondary, but AOA is the key to their success. If he performs like last year, the Boys could win the NFC East.

Green Bay Packers-WR Chris Matthews-The Packers have some nice weapons for QB Jimmy Clausen to play with. WR Edmond Gates is a burner with 99 speed and good height at 6'. WR Jermaine Garrett is undersized, but also a track star. TE Jermichael Finley is a 6'5" target with excellent speed and ball skills. With all this talent, the key to the Packers 2017 season is WR Chris Matthews. A 6'5" WR with 93 speed 70 strength and 95 catch makes this a player that is impossible to cover. He has yet to put up good numbers, but 2017 will be his year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers-QB Josh Freeman-This is not one of those obvious choices. Something happened to Freeman since he set the league record for TD passes in a year in 2014 with 42. He;s only thrown 27 and 25 TD's the past 2 years. His yardage is also down. From 5000 in 2014 to under 4000 the past 2 years. Freeman is the most athletically gifted QB in GZL history. 6'6" 250 pounds, 99 awareness, 97 throwing power, and 99 throwing accuracy. Best coaching staff in GZL. How he is not around 5000 and 40 every year is baffling. If he can get back to 2014 form, Tampa may finally win the big one.

Detroit Lions-Entire offensive line-I could not find any one player to single out, so I went with the group. The Lions throw the ball like no other team in the history of GZL. Matthew Stafford has thrown for over 5000 yards three times. Megatron is the best WR in the league. The problem? Protection for Stafford. As much as he drops back, he is 1 hit away from a season ending injury. He has been sacked an average of 28 times a year the past 7 seasons, including a career high 35 times last year. If the Lions do not get their OL to work as a unit and better pass protect, Stafford will not make it through the year. If they keep Stafford off the turf, this team can throw their way into the playoffs.

Seattle Seahawks-QB Cam Newton, QB Tim Tebow, QB Landry Jones-The 3 headed monster under center. The Hawks have the deepest unit at QB in GZL. Newton and Tebow are clones of each other, while Jones is a pocket player. Newton is the starter, but Jones won the Super Bowl last year. I believe this team can plug in any of the QB's and win. So there is more pressure on the players themselves, than the team. Injuries at QB will not be an issue for this team. Whomever is healthy will start for the defending champs.

I had a tough choice doing only 5 teams. I chose 3 teams I feel are playoff locks, and 2 teams that are on the playoff bubble. I believe any of these teams can go on a run and win it all.
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