Ben Roethlisberger and 4 Injuries That Will Derail Teams' Playoff Hopes
NFL teams play each week knowing that injuries can strike at any time. No player is immune and no team has the magical ability to avoid them altogether.
Let's look at four injuries that will (or already have) derailed teams' playoff hopes.
The Dallas Cowboys rank 29th in the NFL in rushing this season and have lost any sense of offensive balance without DeMarco Murray in the lineup. Dallas is 2-2 in his recent absence, and Felix Jones has rushed for just 173 total yards in those contests.
The Cowboys are already clinging to a 4-5 record and fleeting playoff hopes, but it is hard to see them winning many games down the stretch without a legitimate rushing threat in the backfield.
QB Tony Romo is capable of putting Dallas in position to win, but he turns the ball over too frequently to be solely relied on for offensive output.
Beneath all of the locker room drama and QB controversy of the New York Jets lies an actual football team.
That team is 1-6 this season in games without Darrelle Revis. He is one of the best shutdown cornerbacks in all of football, and his absence has severely limited the ability of the Jets defense.
In recent years, the inefficiencies of New York's offense have been manageable because the defense was able to play stout against even the most prolific of offenses. That defense has become rather pedestrian this season, allowing at least 27 points on five different occasions.
At 3-6 the Jets are all but out of the AFC playoff race, and losing Revis has to be considered one of the top reasons why.
The NFC North is among the most difficult divisions in football, and even the smallest injury can hurt a team. Nowhere will that prove truer than with Percy Harvin and the 6-4 Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings have been faltering as of late, losing three of their last five games and now dealing with a hampered Harvin. He missed last week against the Lions (a game Minnesota managed to win) and had just two catches for 10 yards on six targets in the game prior.
The Vikings need explosive playmakers wherever they can get them in the passing game, and Harvin is one of the most dynamic in the league. Not having Harvin at 100 percent limits the aerial attack and puts more pressure on Adrian Peterson and the rushing game.
Injury: Right Shoulder
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most prolific offenses in football with Ben Roethlisberger in the lineup.
Can the same be said with Byron Leftwich under center?
Obviously not, and the longer Roethlisberger's injury lingers, the dimmer Pittsburgh's playoff light starts to look.
The Steelers do have an emerging rushing game, and it is nice to see Rashard Mendenhall return to the field, but defenses will be able to key in on the backfield if Leftwich is playing. There is simply no way to duplicate what Big Ben can do in the vertical passing game.
Roethlisberger is a calming presence on the offense and a necessity for a playoff run.