Several playoff spots are up for grabs in Week 17. The NFC East and NFC North winners will be determined by head-to-head matchups between the first and second place teams. However, some of the best players in those contests could be missing because of season-ending injuries.
Below are updates on players that have appeared on the Week 17 injury report.
The Aaron Rodgers injury saga continues into Week 17. Once again, the Green Bay Packers won’t rule him out to start the week, as he recovers from a fractured collarbone. On Monday, head coach Mike McCarthy said that the team hoped to make an announcement “sooner than later” on the quarterback’s status. Last week, the organization didn’t declare Rodgers out until Friday. The team won’t let him play unless he is medically cleared by the team doctor. It was thought that the 2011 MVP had a chance to play in the Packers’ last game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it was later revealed that he wasn’t very close to being cleared.
After the Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins in Week 16, there didn’t seem to be any indication that Romo might be injured. However, it appears that the quarterback’s chances of playing in the NFC East title game are slim. On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported that a back injury would keep Romo out for the remainder of the 2013 season. Owner Jerry Jones won’t rule out his starting signal caller for the contest, but it does not look good. According to ESPN, Romo was given an epidural to help with the pain of his herniated disc, which will likely require surgery. A source says, though, that it would be very surprising if Romo takes the field on Sunday.
Not only have the Packers been playing without their best offensive player, but they could be without their best defensive player in the biggest game of 2013. Matthews has been battling a right thumb injury for much of the year, and the issue could keep him out of the season finale. He reinjured his finger against the Steelers, and his chances of playing against the Bears don’t look good. McCarthy said the training staff is not optimistic about the linebacker, who has missed four games this year.
Just as the Packers might be without their starting quarterbacks and one of their top linebackers in a must-win game, the Cowboys could suffer the same fate. A neck injury has kept Lee out for the past two games, and signs don’t point to him playing in Week 17. He still hasn’t been medically cleared and could be done for the year. Lee has 99 combined tackles on the season and four interceptions.
The wide receiver suffered a PCL sprain in the Carolina Panthers’ win over the New Orleans Saints. According to head coach Ron Rivera, Smith is doubtful to participate in the team’s Week 17 contest. The Panthers have already clinched a playoff spot. If they win or the Saints lose in the regular season finale, Carolina will get a bye and Smith is guaranteed one more week to rest his injury. Smith has 64 catches for 745 yards.