The NFL has spent much of the year crowing about its rule changes and protocols, only to see a spate of concussions at the end of the season. Bad timing for Roger Goodell to bring up playoff expansion.
The injuries are real, and at this point of the season, there's seldom margin for error. A team might have figured out how to get by without a star, but in the playoffs, weaknesses are magnified. The next man up is going to be the next man targeted.
Injuries, or rather availability, can be the difference.
Just look at the Chiefs last week. They lost Jamaal Charles early, and it's hard to say he wouldn't have made a difference. By the end of the game, precisely when running the ball and the clock would have mattered most, Andy Reid was having to call plays for a guy most Chiefs fans couldn't tell you much about.
The Patriots won't have either of the tight ends they expected to have. The Colts won't have Reggie Wayne or Greg Toler. Full health won't guarantee a win, as we saw with the Eagles, but it does give a team its best chance. Squads fight for the bye for a reason, you know.
Let's take a look at the eight remaining teams and how they are faring heading into the weekend's games.