For the third time in the past four weeks. a team has lost its starting quarterback for the rest of the regular season. Houston wasn't likely to make the playoffs regardless. Here's a look at all injuries that could alter NFL betting lines this week.
Ryan Mallett, QB, Texans
Mallett's season is over after he was diagnosed with a torn pectoral muscle. His Texans career also might be over. The team acquired him from New England earlier this season for what turned out to be a seventh-round pick because he didn't play in 40 percent of Houston's total snaps this season. Houston simply wanted to take a flier on a guy who had a cannon of an arm and looked good while at Arkansas. The Patriots for some reason took Mallett in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft to sit behind Tom Brady. Now Mallett will be a free agent and considering he has thrown 79 regular-season passes in his career it's hard to know what his value is. Mallett played well in his first start for Houston on Nov. 16 in a win over Cleveland, going 20 of 30 for 211 yards with two TDs and a pick. He actually suffered the injury in that game but played through it in Sunday's loss to the Bengals. He was clearly off, going 21 of 45 for 189 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Presumably the Texans will go back to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, at least until they are eliminated from playoff contention. Then rookie Tom Savage probably gets a look. Fitzpatrick turns the ball over too much and can't throw downfield very well. Houston is a 6-point home favorite this week on NFL odds against another team with QB issues, Tennessee.
Reggie Bush, RB, Lions
Bush has been a constant on this list and was expected to return Sunday from an ankle injury that has bothered Bush for weeks, but he was inactive for the blowout loss in New England. Bush thinks he can play in Thanksgiving's first game against Chicago. The Lions really need it as they are on a two-game losing streak and out of first place in the NFC North for the first time this season. For your NFL picks, is worth noting that Detroit opened at -7 on NFL odds.
Lance Briggs, LB, and Kyle Fuller, CB, Bears
We still don't know whether these two starters will go for the Bears against Detroit, but the odds aren't good with that quick turnaround. Briggs (groin) and Fuller (knee) were injured in the first half of Sunday's 21-13 win over the Buccaneers, and they each missed the second half. The Chicago defense is why the team has won two straight but those were against weak Minnesota and Tampa Bay offenses. Detroit's is a notch above those, especially at home.
Andre Smith, OT, Bengals
Smith left the Bengals' win over the Titans on Sunday with an arm injury and he will undergo season-ending surgery. Smith had missed the previous two games with an ankle and his replacement, Marshall Newhouse, didn't perform well at all. Over the past three games, Newhouse has a Pro Football Focus overall grade of -14.0 and a pass protection score of -10.4. Needless to say, negative scores aren't good. The Bengals are -4 this week at sportsbooks in a possible trap game in Tampa.
Tashaun Gipson, S, Browns
Gipson was having a Pro Bowl-caliber season and led the NFL with six interceptions to help anchor a terrific Browns secondary with star cornerback Joe Haden. Alas, Gipson tore his MCL and he's probably done for the year. The team is holding out some hope that he can maybe return for the playoffs since the ACL wasn't torn, but that seems hugely unlikely. In addition to his league-leading six picks this season, Gipson's 11 since 2013 are the most in the NFL. He has nine in his past 13 games. Cleveland is +2 on NFL odds vs Buffalo.
Eric Berry, S, Chiefs
Awful week for the Chiefs. First they were embarrassed on Thursday night by the previously winless Raiders, which knocked Kansas City out of a tie for first in the AFC West with Denver. Then came the news that their Pro Bowl safety Berry will be lost for the season after a mass was discovered in his chest. Unfortunately, team officials believe it could be lymphoma, a form of cancer. Berry complained of some chest problems after the Raiders game and has played only six games this year due to injury, but has 37 tackles. Berry was the Chiefs' first-round draft pick in 2010. He reached the Pro Bowl in three of his first four seasons.
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ike Taylor, CB, and Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers
Pittsburgh comes off its bye week and will apparently get these three defensive starters back. Polamalu and Shazier practiced Monday after missing two games each with knee injuries. Taylor broke his forearm on Sept. 21 but has been medically cleared to return. The Pittsburgh defense needs these guys as it has allowed at least 20 points in six straight games. The Steelers host a New Orleans team on a short week Sunday with Pittsburgh opening at -3 on NFL odds.
Brandon Marshall, LB, and Aqib Talib, CB, Broncos
The last thing Denver needs is more injuries at linebacker with Nate Irving on injured reserve and Danny Trevathan out with a fractured leg. However, Marshall, the team's leading tackler, left Sunday's win over Miami with a concussion. Talib left with a hamstring injury in the first half but returned for a handful of snaps before halftime. He did not play in the second half. So it's possible both play. The Broncos are 2-point favorites on NFL odds for Sunday night's game at Kansas City and a win all but locks up the AFC West again. Star tight end Julius Thomas could return after missing one game with an ankle injury.