As the playoff field narrows, we shift focus mainly to the remaining contenders. Major injuries for other teams and fantasy-relevant injuries will be noted further down the page.
Seahawks Halfback Rashaad Penny -- Knee (IR)
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made the curious statement that Rashaad Penny had "an ACL sprain" rather than the more common ACL tear or ACL injury diagnosis. That distinction should not matter for an athlete: any damage to the ligament is a major injury, and even a sprain will almost always lead to reconstructive surgery for a football player who intends to continue his career. However, it is possible that the Seahawks believe that Penny might not need such surgery, hence the distinction. The Dolphins tried something similar with Ryan Tannehill's injury in 2016, but Tannehill eventually succumbed to surgery and missed the entire 2017 season. Like Tannehill in 2016, Penny is not going to be healthy for the start of next season either way, but any attempt to postpone surgery seems likely only to prolong the young tailback's absence. Regardless, a confirmed diagnosis of a torn ACL would mean that he will not return this season.
UPDATE: The Seahawks have confirmed that Penny will miss the rest of the season.
Bears Linebacker Roquan Smith -- Pectoral (IR)
The Bears have confirmed that linebacker Roquan Smith injured his pectoral on Thursday night, and he will miss the rest of the season. Smith will require surgery, but he should return in time for 2020.
49ers Center Weston Richburg -- Knee (IR)
49ers Cornerback Richard Sherman -- Hamstring
Though the 49ers have not offered specifics on the knee or ankle injury sustained by Weston Richburg, the pervading belief is that the injury is serious and potentially season-ending. Richburg is undergoing tests today to determine those specifics, with head coach Kyle Shanahan's quotes suggesting that he fears the worst. Ben Garland would likely start in Richburg's absence.
Cornerback Richard Sherman suffered a Grade II hamstring strain against New Orleans, which is likely to keep him out for at least two weeks. He should be close to full health in time for the team's first playoff game, regardless of which seed they earn. Edge rusher Dee Ford also injured his hamstring and is likely to miss at least one game, but Ford's injury is generally considered milder than Sherman's.
UPDATE: Richburg's injury is reportedly a torn patellar tendon, a major injury that, this late in the year, will almost certainly cause him to miss a significant portion of next season too. Very few players miss less than a full calendar year with a patellar tendon tear, and Jimmy Graham's ten-month absence remains the absolute best-case scenario. That would see Richburg begin next season on the Reserve (PUP) list, hoping to return by the middle of the season.
The following players left their respective games with concussion symptoms and enter the league protocol:
- 49ers cornerback K'Waun Williams
- Dolphins receivers Devante Parker and Albert Wilson
- Saints tight end Jared Cook
- Steelers tight end Vance McDonald
- Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro
Based on our current data, a growing majority of players now miss at least one game following a diagnosed concussion, but around 80% return within two weeks. Around 75% of defensive backs return within three weeks, but the 49ers may elect to hold Sherman out of Week 17 regardless of his health, depending on results over the next two weeks.
Broncos defensive lineman Dre'Mont Jones suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Texans, which will probably end his season.
Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans injured his hamstring. Though only around 50% of hamstring injuries to wide receivers cause them to miss a game, the reaction of the Buccaneers to Evans' injury suggests that they expect Evans to fall on the more severe end of the scale. The injury may even end his season. Quarterback Jameis Winston had a small fracture in his throwing hand, which delayed his return to the field for the second half. He is not currently expected to miss further game time, but he is seeking a second opinion as a precaution.
Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri will have knee surgery this week, which will end his season.
Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley announced on Instagram that he will miss the rest of the season with an abdominal injury. Defensive back Desmond Trufant will also miss the rest of the season after fracturing his arm against the Panthers.
Jaguars receiver DJ Chark is considered week-to-week with an ankle sprain, and linebacker Jake Ryan is likely to miss Week 15 with a hamstring injury.
Raiders tight end Foster Moreau will miss the rest of the season with the knee injury he sustained against the Titans.
Washington halfback Derrius Guice sprained his MCL against the Packers. That will probably end his season: 75% of MCL sprains cause halfbacks to miss at least two games, and with Washington already eliminated there is no incentive to rush Guice back before the end of the year. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan injured his calf. 50% of calf injuries result in at least a one-game absence for linebackers, but over 80% of players return within two weeks. Defensive back Quinton Dunbar injured his hamstring. Most hamstring injuries to defensive backs result in at least a one-game absence, but almost 75% of players return within two games.