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NFL limping through very rough season

You could stock several teams with offensive stars as the 2013 National Football League season limps toward the final weeks of the regular season.

Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick, Sam Bradford and Brian Hoyer are not quarterbacking their teams.

Arian Foster, Darren McFadden and Doug Martin are not taking handoffs.

Julio Jones, Reggie Wayne, Randall Cobb, Sidney Rice, Roddy White, Miles Austin, Mike Williams and Percy Harvin are not catching passes.

Jermichael Finley, Kyle Rudolph and Owen Daniels have turned their tight end jobs over to someone else.

There are many others sidelined by injuries, not only skilled players on offense but outstanding ones on defense too. This season has been so fraught with injuries that even some of the head coaches are going down. Denver's John Fox and Houston's Gary Kubiak have both bumped into serious health problems.

Everyone knows that football is a war and injuries are part of it. NFL teams try to take these setbacks in stride because professional football is a money game but when you look at the carnage they can cause to a team's season you know there is some grimacing , head-shaking and a lot of worrying pervading NFL locker rooms and front offices. The stakes are very high in this crazy business. After all, you have millionaires playing the same game as adults they played as children and they are generating billions of dollars worth of revenue every year for the NFL.

What chance does the Green Bay Packers have without Rodgers, Cobb and Finley? With Julio Jones and Roddy White out of the lineup the Falcons have flopped. What are the Houston Texans without Arian Foster? All three of these teams made the playoffs last year. Of the three, only the Packers are still in the playoff hunt and they have lost two in a row. The Packers were one of the most beat-up teams in football last year and it looks like 2013 is just as bad.

Of course some teams are managing to hang in there all right. The Seattle Seahawks lead the NFC West, the Packers are battling Chicago and Detroit in the NFC North, Indianapolis leads the AFC South without Reggie Wayne. Dallas and Philadelphia are tied for first in the NFC East. But the question over the next six weeks is how will these teams fare without their key pieces?

If you are planning to put some bets down going into the NFL playoffs it is a good idea to look at the healthiest teams, not just the ones with the toughest defenses and the most explosive offenses. How many people saw the Baltimore Ravens winning the Super Bowl last year? Their offense was not bad but how many people saw quarterback Joe Flacco winning the Super Bowl MVP Award? What did the Ravens have that teams like Green Bay, New England, Atlanta and Seattle did not? If you dug deep enough you would probably find they put a fairly healthy club on the field when the playoffs arrived.

If this is the case, then it is the timing of injuries that really makes or breaks a good team's season. It's about having the players you need to win a game when it is crunch time.

Is it time for the NFL to address all of these injuries with more rules and better gear? Most of us would not take the hard contact out of football even if we could. What even the most hardcore fan and money-hungry owner should be be willing to do though is take a closer look at the long-term effects injuries can have on football players. Tony Dorsett's recent comments about memory loss and other ailments are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pro football injuries.