Jay Cutler and the Most Devastating Injuries of the 2011 NFL Season
The 2011 NFL season has seen its fair share of exciting moments, but injuries have also been affecting players at a frightening level.
Several teams' playoff hopes have been destroyed after their stars players were hit with injuries.
Here are the seven most significant injuries in the NFL this season.
Jay Cutler and Matt Forte
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After a great start, the Bears' season ended suddenly after injuries to their two best players.
However, Cutler suffered a major thumb injury in Week 11 against the Chargers. It was later revealed that he would be out for the season.
Forte went down with a gruesome leg injury just one week later, and his return is doubtful this season.
Without their two best players, the Bears offense has really struggled.
Backup quarterback Caleb Hanie continues to lose Chicago games with costly interceptions, and running back replacement Marion Barber has been anything but stellar.
Since the injuries, the Bears have averaged less than 14 points a game and have lost five straight contests.
Their once promising season has come down in flames.
Jamaal Charles, Matt Cassel and Eric Berry
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The Chiefs came into the season with one of the best rosters in football, but several devastating injuries have cost them their season.
Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry went down with a torn ACL in Week 1. Without Berry, the Chiefs passing defense has taken a hit.
In Week 2, explosive running back Jamaal Charles was lost for the season with a frightening ACL tear. Charles is one of the most dynamic backfield threats in the NFL, and without him, Kansas City has failed to establish a consistent ground game.
Even with the losses to two of their best players, the Chiefs managed to pull to 4-4 by midseason.
However, all hope was lost when starting quarterback Matt Cassel suffered a significant hand injury in Week 10. The injury ended Cassel's season.
Kansas City has shown a lot of heart this season, as they have managed to win six games even without their three most important players.
With a healthy roster, the Chiefs would of been one of the AFC's elite teams this year.
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The four-time MVP has been on the sidelines all season with a serious neck injury. His absence has turned one of the best teams in the league into one of the worst.
Indianapolis' offense is one of the worst in football, as they can no longer rely on Manning to lead the group. Offensive weapons Dallas Clark, Austin Collie and Reggie Wayne have struggled this year, proving that they are nothing special without Manning throwing them the ball.
The Colts began the season with 13 straight losses, and the franchise now has question marks regarding their future at the quarterback position.
Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson
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The Texans have still managed to clinch a playoff spot, even without their two best offensive players for the majority of the season.
After marching out to a 7-3 start, starting quarterback Matt Schaub suffered a season-ending lisfranc injury in Week 10.
Although backup T.J. Yates has kept the wheels churning, he does not possess the talent to carry an offense like Schaub.
Houston's most explosive offensive weapon, receiver Andre Johnson, has dealt with a serious hamstring injury all season. The All-Pro has missed nine games this year.
Without Schaub and Johnson, the Texans passing game has really struggled. The team perhaps lost a first round bye because of the injuries.
With a healthy roster, Houston could be Super Bowl favorites. However, they enter the playoffs as big underdogs.
Darren McFadden and Jason Campbell
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The Raiders would have the AFC West locked up if they still had their two best players.
Oakland lost starting quarterback Jason Campbell to a broken collarbone in Week 6. Campbell was having a solid season before the injury, as he had led the Raiders to a 4-2 record, with wins over the Jets and the Texans.
Replacement Carson Palmer has been a colossal disappointment, as he has thrown a ridiculous 15 interceptions in just nine games.
Pro Bowl running back Darren McFadden has also missed the last 10 games with a significant foot injury. Without him, the Oakland running game has taken a step back.
The Black and Silver are still in a prime position for a postseason berth, but they could be serious contenders if McFadden and Campbell stayed healthy.
Nick Mangold and Jim Leonhard
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The Jets have been a disappointment this year, but they have suffered their fair share of brutal injuries.
Earlier in the season, All-Pro center Nick Mangold was lost for two weeks with an ankle injury. Without Mangold leading the way, the Jets running game really struggled. New York went 0-2 without their star player.
Two weeks ago, safety Jim Leonhard went down with a serious leg injury. Without him defending, the Jets have lost their last two games. Backup safeties Brodney Pool and Eric Smith have really struggled, as they have been burned by the pass across the middle over the last two weeks.
These injuries cost New York several games, and it has probably cost them a playoff berth this season.
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The Panthers have one of the best offenses in football, and they could easily be a playoff team with a decent defense.
Carolina's defensive unit took a big hit when it lost its best player, Jon Beason, for the season back in Week 1.
Without one of the game's best linebackers, the Panther's defense has really struggled defending both the pass and the run.
If Beason was healthy, then Carolina could easily be one of the top units in the NFC, as the perennial Pro Bowler would be a major factor in all phases of the game.