Some squads escaped Week 16 without adding to the NFL Week 17 injury report.
Others were not so fortunate.
Nothing puts a damper on postseason hopes and dreams quite like an injury to a star player, and Sunday's action had no shortage of them.
Injuries tend to be most devastating when they are severe in nature, are suffered by skill players or occur on a team without much depth at the position in question.
With those criteria in mind, let's look at each playoff team and contender, ranked in order from those most likely able to overcome their Week 16 battering and finishing with the team who may soon remember Sunday's injuries as the beginning of the end of their 2012 season.
Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots.
The following AFC postseason teams did not suffer any additional major injuries during Week 16's action:
Denver Broncos (12-3), currently 2nd seed in AFC
Other notable Broncos' injury news (based on team's official injury report):
- Running back Willis McGahee (knee) remains out. The Broncos placed him on injured reserve in November due to an MCL sprain and lower leg fracture. He is eligible to return the week of the AFC Championship.
- The Broncos continue to remain remarkably healthy since McGahee's injury, suffering no major injuries since he went down in Week 11.
New England Patriots (11-4), currently 3rd seed in AFC
Other notable Patriots injury news (based on team's official injury report):
- Tight end Rob Gronkowski ended up missing Week 16 following some mid-week speculation that he may return for the first time since breaking his forearm on November 18th.
Indianapolis Colts (10-5), currently 5th seed in AFC
Other notable Colts injury news (based on team's official injury report):
- Running back Delone Carter remains sidelined by a Week 14 ankle sprain.
Cincinnati Bengals (9-6), currently 6th seed in AFC
Other notable Bengals injury news (based on team's official injury report):
- Josh Brown again filled in for injured kicker Mike Nugent, sending the Bengals into the playoffs with a game-winning kick against the Pittsburgh Steelers (via Chicago Tribune).
Note: All team-by-team actives and inactives for Week 16 can be found here.
Matt Ryan, quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons.
The following NFC postseason teams or hopefuls did not suffer any additional major injuries during Week 16's action:
Atlanta Falcons (13-2), 1st seed in NFC (clinched)
Other notable Falcons injury news (based on team's official injury report):
- Wide receiver Roddy White played Week 16 after being listed as questionable.
Washington Redskins (9-6), currently 4th seed in NFC
Other notable Redskins injury news (based on team's official injury report):
- Quarterback Robert Griffin III returned Week 16 after missing one week due to a sprained lateral collateral ligament (via ESPN.com).
Seattle Seahawks (10-5), currently 5th seed in NFC
Other notable Seahawks injury news (based on team's official injury report):
- Wide receiver Sidney Rice played Week 16 after being listed as questionable due to a knee injury (via official NFL inactives report).
Minnesota Vikings (9-6), currently 6th seed in NFC
Other notable Vikings injury news (based on team's official injury report):
- Running back Adrian Peterson was listed as probable. He continues to battle a nagging abdomen/groin injury, but he played Week 16 (via official NFL inactives report), as expected.
Note: All team-by-team actives and inactives for Week 16 can be found here.
Arian Foster, running back for the Houston Texans.
The Houston Texans received a scare on Sunday when, according to NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal, running back Arian Foster the team's 23-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings with an irregular heartbeat.
Also known as arrhythmia, irregular heartbeats can be a result of a number of different conditions. Those conditions range from simple dehydration to life-threatening underlying diseases and everything in between.
In a professional athlete such as Foster, the cause of an irregular heartbeat is almost always benign. Even better, once it resolves, it leaves no lingering effects.
Additionally, arrhythmias alone are not dangerous per se.
However, severe or recurrent arrhythmias can lead to decreased blood flow to the brain and other parts of the body in addition to many other problems. With that in mind, the Texans decided to play it safe.
Nevertheless, on Monday, Foster tweeted the following:
I appreciate all the concern and support. I am doing well. Saw a cardiologist today and everything is back to normal.— Arian Foster (@ArianFoster) December 24, 2012
He will be fine.
Anquan Boldin, wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin suffered a shoulder bruise on Sunday according to Garrett Downing of the official Ravens website.
The Ravens will certainly continue to evaluate Boldin throughout the week, though Downing reports that Head Coach John Harbaugh does not believe the injury to be serious.
The recently inconsistent Ravens need Boldin on the field as much as possible for the playoffs.
For now, that looks to be a safe bet.
Randall Cobb, wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers.
The Green Bay Packers' recent trend toward good health took a small hit when wide receiver Randall Cobb left the Packers' Week 16 55-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
Speculation suggests that the injury is merely a slight ankle sprain.
Cobb has done a fantastic job filling in this season for an injury-plagued Packers receiving core. If he misses any time, the Packers will certainly feel it.
That said, initial reports are definitely encouraging. With the official Packers Twitter account reporting that fellow wide receiver Jordy Nelson may be on pace to return this week from a nagging hamstring injury, the Packers are clearly moving in the right direction.
Tony Romo, quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.
While the Dallas Cowboys avoided any devastating injuries Sunday, both linebacker DeMarcus Ware and cornerback Mike Jenkins injured their shoulders during the Cowboys' Week 16 victory over the Saints (via Brian McIntyre of Yahoo! Sports).
Nevertheless, Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com reported on Monday that Ware should play in Week 17.
That is great news for the Cowboys, as they most definitely need their star linebacker for this Sunday's do-or-die showdown against the Washington Redskins to decide the NFC East champion.
The New York Giants' playoff hopes are hanging by a thread, and injuries to two defensive tackles won't help the cause.
Kieran Darcy of ESPNNewYork.com reported Sunday night that both defensive tackle Chris Canty and his fill-in, Marvin Austin, suffered knee injuries Week 16.
As Darcy notes, the injuries represent blows to an already injury-depleted Giants team. For instance, running back Ahmad Bradshaw is battling a knee injury of his own and received only nine touches on Sunday. Additionally, defensive end Justin Tuck and safety Kenny Phillips sat out the contest.
Given the nature of the Giants' current situation, their most recent injuries may all but eliminate their postseason aspirations.
Vernon Davis, tight end for the San Francisco 49ers.
Add San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis to the long list of players who have suffered a concussion during the 2012 NFL season.
Davis suffered a concussion on the play. He must now miss at least five days of competitive action as he progresses through the NFL-mandated concussion testing protocol. That protocol is as follows:
- Symptoms resolve and remain resolved for 24 consecutive hours
- Symptoms do not return with light activity
- Symptoms do not return with sport-specific activity
- Symptoms do not return with non-contact practice
- Symptoms do not return with full-contact practice
Each step is 24 hours long. If Davis' symptoms return during any step, he must rest for 24 hours and then resume the process at one level below where he was when his symptoms returned. He also needs to be medically cleared by an independent neurologist.
After being annihilated by the Seahawks in Week 16, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is certainly hoping Davis falls in that group.
To make matters worse, Mike Garafolo of USA Today reported on Monday that 49ers wide receiver Mario Manningham suffered a torn ACL and PCL on Sunday.
Hopefully, Manningham can recover from such a brutal, devastating injury, and the entire league is surely sending him their well wishes.
Matt Forte, running back for the Chicago Bears.
There may be no team that is more reliant on the health and play of only a handful of players than the Chicago Bears, proven by their 2011 collapse after both quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte went down with injuries.
Well, don't look now Bears fans, but Forte is down again.
According to Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com, Forte sustained an ankle injury on Sunday. If the injury forces Forte to sit out a must-win Week 17 game against the Lions, the Bears are in deep, deep trouble.
An offense that runs primarily through Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall would be made even more one-dimensional if the Bears' primary rusher is sidelined.
To make matters worse, former No. 2 Michael Bush sits on Injured Reserve, leaving the Bears backfield very thin.
The Bears already need help to qualify for the postseason.
Now, they need even more.
Dave Siebert is a medical/injury Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report who will graduate from medical school in June, 2013. He plans to specialize in both Family Medicine and Primary Care (non-operative) Sports Medicine. Injury and concussion information discussed above is based on his own knowledge.