One piece of news can influence an NFL team's season, as a few franchises can surely attest to heading into Week 16.
We're deep into the month of December now, and there are just two regular-season games left before the majority of the league goes home to watch the 12 playoff teams compete.
There are a couple of noteworthy reports from around the league that will impact teams vying for a playoff spot, along with a huge bit of news regarding a team without a chance of playing in January.
Charles Tillman Won't Return for Chicago's Potential Playoff Run
The Chicago Bears have been missing Charles Tillman in the worst possible way, but he's not going to be making a return to the team's defensive lineup this season.
Bears head coach Marc Trestman revealed the unfortunate news, as noted by Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com on Monday, Dec. 16:
Bears coach Marc Trestman said today that Tillman isn’t far enough along in his recovery from a triceps injury, and he definitely will not play until next season. So even if the Bears get to the playoffs, Tillman won’t be there.
Tillman was injured during Week 10's contest against the Detroit Lions, and he was placed on temporary IR with a designation for possible return.
Will Chicago sneak into the playoffs?
While he's been away, Chicago's defense has struggled to slow down opposing passing attacks, and the Bears have been poor defensively in general for most of the 2013 season. The team enters Week 16 with the league's 27th-ranked defense.
The Bears are currently engaged in a fierce battle with the Green Bay Packers (7-6-1) and Detroit Lions (7-6 before Week 15) for the NFC North crown. The Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers are the final two opponents for this team, and both are capable of putting up huge numbers in the passing game.
Needless to say, Chicago will miss "Peanut" Tillman.
Green Bay Preparing for Life Without Rodgers Yet Again
Aaron Rodgers was injured during Week 9's contest against the Chicago Bears, and the Packers haven't been the same without him in the lineup (color me shocked).
Yes, Matt Flynn has been serviceable the past two games—both of which Green Bay won—but there's no doubt the Packers miss Rodgers' rocket arm, swift feet and remarkable efficiency.
Especially now, with the NFC North up for grabs and just two weeks left.
Unfortunately, Rodgers still hasn't been cleared to play as of Monday, Dec. 16, and the Packers are expecting Flynn to start at home in Week 16 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, as noted by Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post:
Packers expect Matt Flynn to start: Aaron Rodgers not ruled out yet. http://t.co/utvIVb4421— NationalFootballPost (@FootballPost) December 17, 2013
Pittsburgh's defense just got through shutting down Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and the Cincinnati Bengals offense, and Flynn will need to be at the top of his game in Week 16 if Rodgers is unable to play.
This isn't the scenario Green Bay was hoping for with the playoffs on the line.
Mike Shanahan Doesn't Appear To Be Going Anywhere
Apologies to Washington fans who are holding their breath waiting for Mike Shanahan to be fired. You might want to rethink that decision after the latest news regarding the embattled head coach.
Despite the fact that Washington has completely collapsed on both sides of the ball in 2013 and enters Week 16 with a record of 3-11, it appears Shanahan isn't going anywhere.
ESPN's Adam Schefter provided some key details on this hot topic:
Mike Shanahan will not resign from his job and would like to return to Washington next season as long as he can run team the way he wants.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 15, 2013
Redskins will not attempt to fire Mike Shanahan for cause and withhold $7 million due for 2014. Contract is “ironclad", per legal source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 15, 2013
Mike Shanahan intends to sit down Dan Snyder at end of year to see if they can work out arrangement that works for both sides next season.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 15, 2013
In particular, the "ironclad" contract is troublesome for Washington if owner Daniel Snyder has had enough of Shanahan. Since the coach has no intention of leaving and the team can't fire him, it appears he's going to be brooding on Washington's sideline for at least one more season.
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