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10 Big-Name NFL Injuries You Need to Know About In Week 14

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10 Big-Name Injuries That Will Have An Impact On Week 14

Houston
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of the NFL season, there are several vitals to success: being able to stop the run, being able to move the ball on offense, having a good kicker, etc.

But the most obvious necessity that every team has each year, yet has no control over, is keeping their team healthy. Injuries wreak havoc on even the best teams in the league and they are so random that teams really can’t do anything about it.

Injuries can derail promising seasons at any point or ruin them before they ever start. Think of where the St. Louis Rams might be right now had Sam Bradford not lost his season due to injury or where the Buffalo Bills would be if they didn’t lose E.J. Manuel for several weeks. Really, I could go on and on with my examples.

Lose enough guys and things get dicey. The aforementioned Bills struggled early in the year when as many as three of their top defensive backs were on the bench nursing injuries. That’s why depth along both lines are so key for most teams; the lines batter each other over the course of a season and can find themselves thin in a heartbeat. Find yourself short on either front and it ripples into other portions of the team: a depleted line gets a quarterback or a running back hurt, and so on.

Every team has dealt with injuries in some capacity this season, but the lucky ones have only dealt with minor or nagging injuries. Everyone plays hurt at some point, it’s just a matter of how badly you’re hurt. Such is the life of an NFL player.

That being said, here are ten injuries that could really affect their respective teams heading into Week 14’s matchups. (Note: some of the teams mentioned are dead in the water as far as their season goes, but their injury woes are worth mentioning.)

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Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears haven’t quite been the same since Jay Cutler left the lineup with a groin injury. They dropped a very winnable game last week, sliding to 6-6 in the standings and fading fast.

After briefly returning to the lineup, Cutler re-aggravated his injury and at the same time suffered a high ankle sprain, and has been placed back on the bench, giving way to Josh McCown. McCown has been solid in his place, but one can’t help but wonder where the Bears would be if their gun-slinging quarterback was still in the lineup. They have yet to top 21 points without him in the lineup; they only scored less than 21 once with him taking the snaps.

Ankle injuries are always a difficult thing to come back from without proper rest and the Bears are no doubt trying to get Cutler back into the lineup sooner rather than later. Only time will tell how it works out for Mr. Kristen Cavallari and Da Bears.

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Charles Johnson

Charles Johnson
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

For those of you unfamiliar with Charles Johnson, he is the best pass-rusher the Carolina Panthers have and he is the recipient of a megabucks offseason deal. The defense as a whole has taken a huge step forward in what has been a coming out party for the Panthers.

Ranking in the top six in both rushing and passing yards allowed, the defense is no doubt better when Johnson is on the field causing trouble. On a team with a middling pass rush, he leads the way with 8.5 sacks on the year and would be a huge loss if he can’t go in Week 14.

Also to consider: over the next four weeks, the Panthers will play the New Orleans Saints twice, essentially battling one another for the NFC South crown. If the cats hope to stop Drew Brees and company, they’ll need Johnson breathing down the elite passer’s neck at all times.

Charles Johnson could mean the difference between a home playoff game and the division crown or a Wild Card road game.

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Lance Briggs

Lance Briggs
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Turns out the Bears’ injury woes aren’t limited to just the offensive side of the ball these days.

Lance Briggs essentially became the replacement for Brian Urlacher after the latter became synonymous with the Bears in his 10-plus years of roaming from sideline to sideline. His role has become even bigger as the defense, historically known as being one of the toughest and best in the NFL, has begun to slide toward the middle of the pack statistically. For a defense that has thrived on turnovers and ferocity in the middle, they need a guy like Briggs in the middle of the field, disrupting things and making plays.

The Bears are essentially fighting for their playoff lives the next four weeks; every game a must-win. Without Briggs in the lineup (he’s nursing a bum shoulder), the defense is missing a piece of the puzzle and is down an important cog in the pursuit of the playoffs.

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Jason Campbell/Brandon Weeden

Jason Campbell/Brandon Weeden
Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, the Cleveland Browns are out of the playoff race in the AFC and are, for all intents and purposes, playing for the right to select a new quarterback in April’s NFL draft.

But it can’t be ignored that the Browns were surging under Jason Campbell a few weeks ago before a concussion gave way to Brandon Weeden. If Campbell is ready to go, the Browns will feel like a whole different team offensively. They seemed more confident and more inspired with Campbell in. With Weeden, trouble seems to rear its head at a moment’s notice.

That said, you’re probably asking why Weeden’s injury would be a big deal if the team is performing so poorly without him? Well that’s where Division-III quarterback Alex Tanney comes in. Tanney has yet to take a professional snap, yet the Browns are ready to start him after injuries to their top three quarterbacks this season.

If Weeden or Campbell aren’t ready to suit up, just think of how ugly things will get Sunday in Foxboro when Tanney prepares to take the field for the first time against the 9-3 New England Patriots. Godspeed, kid.

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Morris Claiborne

Morris Claiborne
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

At 7-5, the Dallas Cowboys are tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for first in the putrid NFC East. With four games to remaining, they are likely in for a dogfight with the winner going to the playoffs as NFC East champion and the loser heading home.

That said, the Cowboys are going to need all the help they can get defensively if Morris Claiborne (hamstring) can’t go for them in Week 14 against the Bears. They sit second-to-last in the NFL in passing yards against per game at 294.9. Can you imagine the damage to be done if Claiborne isn’t there to help stop the bleeding?

Also to consider: the Cowboys are going to face some quarterback power down the stretch. Even if they avoid Cutler this week, they could see Aaron Rodgers return to the Green Bay Packers for Week 15’s matchup before facing Robert Griffin III in Week 16 and Nick Foles’ dynamic Eagles to close out the season.

Save us, Obi-Wan Claibornobi. You’re our only hope.

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Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of the aforementioned Rodgers, a collarbone injury derailed his and the Packers season during a Week 9 loss to the Bears. There’s a chance he could return to the lineup for Week 14’s matchup with the Falcons, though the Packers are likely on life support in terms of their playoff hopes, sitting a 5-6-1 thanks to four losses sandwiched around a tie with the awful Minnesota Vikings.

Though their playoff hopes are in dire straits, the Packers would be dangerous with their MVP, Super Bowl-winning quarterback running the offense once again. If anyone is going to lead them to four straight victories and a surprise playoff birth, it’ll be him.

The alternative? Who knows? Do they go back to Matt Flynn, who was decimated by the Lions on Thanksgiving Day by that ferocious defensive line? Do they go to Scott Tolzien?

Any way you spell it, the Packers are doomed without Rodgers.

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Tamba Hali/Justin Houston

Tamba Hali/Justin Houston
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Though their playoff berth is all but assured at 9-3, the Kansas City Chiefs will be playing to prove a point down the stretch. After three straight losses, they’ll want to show that their 9-0 start was no fluke.

But part of the problem they’ve been experiencing lately come on the defensive side of the ball where they once had the most feared pass rush in football. But that’s what happens after injuries to Tamba Hali (ankle) and Justin Houston (elbow), two of the NFL’s sack leaders.

Their schedule is a bit easier down the stretch with only one team having a record above .500 (Indy). Still, the Chiefs could use their feared pass rushers back to get themselves in the best position possible for the playoffs and build as much momentum as they can heading into Wild Card weekend.

Without them? They might need more career days out of Alex Smith and Vegas doesn’t like the odds of that happening.

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Darelle Revis

Darelle Revis
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

The season was over long ago for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hell, it may have been over before the year started when rumors surfaced that head coach Greg Schiano may have fixed a team vote for captains to ensure that Josh Freeman wouldn’t be one of them.

The quarterback shuffle certainly helped doom them, but rookie Mike Glennon has come on since and played well. The team as a whole has played well and the Bucs actually have a pretty good defense on their hands. It just goes unnoticed on a 3-9 team.

That defense could be in some peril if Revis Island, Darelle Revis, is knocked out of action on Sunday due to a groin injury. He’ll be needed against a Bills team that has found its offensive stride of late if the Bucs want to continue on the winning path and carry some momentum into next season.

Without him? Argh, ye never know how ugly things be gettin’. I’m sorry for that. Really, I am.

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DeAngelo Williams

DeAngelo Williams
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

While the Panthers are already dealing with one big potential injury heading into their monumental matchup with the Saints, it turns out they are dealing with another issue on the offensive side of things.

A big part of the Panthers’ ninth-ranked rushing attack, DeAngelo Williams, doesn’t look ready to go with a quadriceps injury. He leads the team in rushing with 610 yards on the season and is part of a dangerous duo with quarterback Cam Newton.

Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart will likely step in for Williams, but can they match the productivity taken off the field with Williams’ injury? They’ll need to do that if the Panthers hope to upend the Saints and take control of the NFC South this weekend.

If not? Things could get dicey for Superman against a vicious Saints defense that will certainly be out for some vengeance on Sunday. Even Superman needs help sometimes and DeAngelo Williams would be just that.

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Brandon Browner

Brandon Browner
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It doesn’t seem like there’s much that can stop the Seattle Seahawks right now, but an injury to one of their top cornerbacks in Brandon Browner may certainly slow them down a little bit.

Coming off of a dominating win over the Saints on Monday Night, the Seahawks can solidify home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. They’ll face a few teams with solid passing attacks down the stretch and depending on how long Browner is out of the lineup, could find themselves a little more vulnerable than they are used to.

With him in the lineup, the Seahawks may have the biggest, most tenacious defense in football playing in front of the loudest, most rowdy crowd in the NFL in the 12th Man.

Without him? Eh, they’re still a pretty good football team, but certainly one with a chink in its armor that may not have existed beforehand.