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Some teams better prepared to win if starting QB goes down

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Tim Heitman/US Presswire
(From left to right) Curtis Painter, Jon Kitna and Matt Flynn are backups to some of the NFL's premier quarterbacks.


ANDERSON, Ind. -- Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has started 208 consecutive games, the longest streak in the NFL. He'll sit out most of the preseason recovering from neck surgery, allowing Curtis Painter to take over and give Colts Nation a glimpse of life should Manning have a setback or get hurt during the season.

It probably won't be a comfortable sampling.

Any team could be in trouble if its starting quarterback gets hurt. We all know that. With so much quarterback activity in the NFL, starting with the draft, let's take a look at the teams that have a chance should their starting quarterback go down and examine teams that could be in dire straits if they have to go to the backup.

Teams with adequate relief

Green Bay Packers: Matt Flynn started one game last season and came in when Aaron Rodgers went down in another. The Packers lost both games but Flynn showed he can play the position. He even drew some trade interest this offseason. He's not a supreme talent but he's a big-time gamer who teammates want to play hard for. The defending champs have a nice safety net in Flynn.

Dallas Cowboys: Jon Kitna was 4-5 as the Cowboys' starter last season and inspired a good share of teammates to play better than they did before Tony Romo got hurt. Dallas might have the best situation in the league.

Detroit Lions: Shaun Hill was 1-7 as the starter last season after Matthew Stafford went down, but he can't be blamed for most of those losses. I spoke to an opposing defensive coordinator who said Hill caused his team a lot of problems and is a lot better player than he gets credit.

Atlanta Falcons: Chris Redman is well-versed in the Falcons' offense and has established trust with his teammates, including Matt Ryan. He played well two years ago when Ryan went down.

Buffalo Bills: For starters, the quarterback situation isn't ideal, but the free-agent acquisition of Tyler Thigpen provides a solid option to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Thigpen played well when he was with coach Chan Gailey in Kansas City. That comfort level could prompt Gailey to insert Thigpen as the starter at some point if Fitzpatrick falters.

Better keep the starter upright

Indianapolis Colts: Painter will get his chances in the preseason but he can't run this offense anywhere close to how Manning does.

Miami Dolphins: If Kyle Orton gets traded to the Dolphins, they could have a steady quarterback situation with Henne at No. 2. If a trade doesn't happen, Tom Brandstater, Matt Moore or Pat Devlin would be Henne's backup -- and the Dolphins would be in trouble.

Carolina Panthers: All signs point to No. 1 overall draft pick Cam Newton being the starter. Although he has a steep learning curve, he also has the ability to make something out of a broken play. If the Panthers have to go to Jimmy Clausen or Derek Anderson, that's the sign of another rough season.

Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler might not be the most liked cat in the Windy City but he got the Bears to the NFC title game. When he went down, so did the Caleb Hanie-led Bears. Same will happen this season if Cutler gets hurt.

Denver Broncos: If it ends up being Tim Tebow time with the Broncos, it means Orton is out of the mix and Brady Quinn moves into the backup role. We've already seen what Quinn can do and that is why he's really not in the "competition" to be the starter.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89

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