NFL Week 14 Injury Report: Who's Hurting the Most After Week 13?
At this point in the season, simple victories might not be enough.
Staying healthy can be just as important.
Across the NFL, some teams are clinching playoff berths and are now looking to solidify higher seeds, while others are preparing for a final run at qualifying for postseason football.
Nothing throws a wrench into those plans quite like an injury to a star player, and there was no shortage of them this week.
Which teams were hit the hardest by injuries during Week 13, and which teams might now be in desperation mode?
Let's take a look.
Buffalo Bills (5-7), Currently 9th Seed in the AFC
Eric Wood, starting center of the Buffalo Bills.
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
The Bills' playoff hopes were already very slim.
They may have just gotten slimmer.
The Associated Press reports that Bills starting center Eric Wood is expected to miss between two and four weeks with a partially torn left MCL, the ligament that helps stabilize motion at the inside of the knee by connecting the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone).
It gets worse.
Already depleted offensively due to a calf injury sidelining No. 2 receiver Donald Jones for Week 13, Buffalo's No. 1 receiving option Stevie Johnson left the Bills' contest against the Jaguars on Sunday due to a tight hamstring, according to Chris Brown of the Bills' official website.
That said, Brown also reports that Johnson expects to play in Week 14, suggesting that his hamstring injury is at worst only a Grade 1 strain, or a mere over-stretch of the muscle.
Additionally, Jones is expected to return for Week 14, helping keep the faint glimmer of playoff hopes in Buffalo alive.
Houston Texans (11-1), Currently 1st Seed in the AFC
Brice McCain, cornerback of the Houston Texans.
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The Texans have been outstanding defensively all season, and that trend continued in Week 13.
However, Houston's defensive injuries are mounting.
Already missing Brian Cushing for the season due to a torn ACL, linebacker Bradie James, linebacker Brooks Reed, cornerback Johnathan Joseph, cornerback Alan Ball and tackle Derek Newton were also among the Week 13 inactives for the Texans.
Now add cornerback Brice McCain to the list.
According to Sean Bielawski of CBSSports.com, McCain suffered a broken left foot during the Texans' Week 13 contest against the Titans.
He required a screw to be surgically placed in his foot, likely meaning the bone was displaced enough that doctors were concerned that it would not heal properly without operative realignment.
Such a procedure requires extensive healing time, and Bielawski further reports that Houston placed McCain on injured reserve on Monday with the possibility to return for the Super Bowl.
Fortunately, the Texans have taken their injuries in stride thus far.
Yet with so many ailing defensive personnel, they are beginning to tread on very thin ice.
Green Bay Packers (8-4), Currently 3rd Seed in NFC
Jordy Nelson, WR of the Green Bay Packers.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
It was a sight Packers fans were aching to see.
However, Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson, two of Green Bay's top defensive players, did not.
Wide receiver Jordy Nelson probably wishes he didn't, either.
Likely in a weakened state after healing from its previous injury, common following a strain, it appears Nelson's hamstring was not yet in shape for NFL action, leading to its re-injury.
As a result, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will continue to rely on receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones as Greg Jennings is worked back into the offense.
Despite an injury-plagued season, the Packers sit at 8-4 and atop the NFC North.
Imagine if this team gets healthy.
Baltimore Ravens (9-3), Currently 3rd Seed in AFC
Terrell Suggs, linebacker of the Baltimore Ravens.
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Age and injuries have clearly slowed down the once feared Baltimore Ravens defense this season.
According to NFL.com's statistics page, the Ravens rank 25th in total defensive yardage (272.2 per game) through Week 13.
Another injury to star linebacker Terrell Suggs won't help.
Dan Hanzus of NFL.com reports that Suggs suffered a torn biceps during the Ravens' 23-20 loss to division rival Pittsburgh in Week 13.
Suggs says that he will try to play through the pain depending on a second opinion.
As long as the biceps is not completely torn, known as a grade three strain, it is actually possible for Suggs to do so.
However, given the fact that the Ravens just lost to a Steelers team with Charlie Batch under center, even a slightly hampered Terrell Suggs may be enough of a cause for concern.
Stay tuned for updates on his condition throughout the week.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5), Currently 6th Seed in AFC
Ike Taylor, cornerback of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
The Steelers did not escape their victory over the Ravens without injury, either.
ESPN.com reports that Taylor underwent an MRI Monday and will likely miss three to six weeks.
The fibula runs from the knee to the ankle alongside the tibia (shin bone) in the lower leg. One can speculate that Taylor's injury is to the lowest part of the fibula immediately above the ankle joint, a common location for a fracture.
The injury is the last thing the Steelers need as they desperately hold onto a playoff spot.
Chicago Bears (8-4), Currently 5th Seed in NFC
Brian Urlacher, linebacker of the Chicago Bears.
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Though the offense has improved since last season with the addition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall, the Chicago Bears still primarily run through their defense.
For the past several years, the leader of that defense has been Brian Urlacher.
The Bears may need to play Week 14 without him.
One week after the Bears lost several starters to injury during their Week 12 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, Urlacher left the game with a hamstring injury on the second-to-last play of the Bears' Week 13 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Wide receiver Earl Bennett and cornerback Tim Jennings also left the game with a concussion and shoulder sprain, respectively. Safety Chris Conte was unable to finish due to an illness.
The once-dominant Bears have looked vulnerable as of late, and these injuries will not help.
In addition, specialist and receiver Devin Hester remains out after suffering a concussion in Week 12.
Hester and Bennett must clear the five-day concussion testing protocol (one day each of rest, light exercise, sport specific exercise, non-contact practice, full practice) without any return of concussion symptoms before returning to play.
To make matters worse, the Chicago Tribune reports that the statuses of both Urlacher and Jennings are unclear as of Monday.
Hold your breath, Bears fans.
The author of this slideshow is a soon-to-be family medicine resident physician with plans to specialize in primary care (non-operative) sports medicine. The injury information is based on the author's own anatomical and clinical knowledge, and additional input is welcomed and encouraged.