Key Injuries to Affect Week 17 NFL Picks & Odds

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 5:39 PM GMT

Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014 5:39 PM GMT

It's the final injury report for the 2014 NFL regular season. It's a terrific closing Sunday as several games have playoff implications, including a few winner-take-all matchups. Here are key injuries that could affect NFL odds on some games. 

Jimmy Clausen, QB, & Willie Young, DE, Bears
Clausen's days as Chicago's starter lasted all of one game. Clausen suffered a concussion in the Week 16 loss to Detroit yet never left the game. He only started having symptoms afterward so he already has been ruled out for Week 17 at Minnesota. For some reason, the lifeless Bears are going back to Jay Cutler as the starter instead of seeing what sixth-round rookie David Fales might bring to the table. It's a game the Bears would be better off losing to possibly improve draft position. Young has been the team's best defensive player but tore an Achilles' tendon. So it will be a race to be ready for the start of next season. Young has a career-high 10 sacks. Chicago is a 6.5-point dog on NFL odds at the Vikings.

 

Johnny Manziel & Brian Hoyer, QBs, Browns
Manziel looked terrible in the first two starts of his NFL career and No. 3 won't come until 2015 as he left the Week 16 loss to Carolina in the first half with a hamstring injury and won't play this Sunday at Baltimore. Manziel finished his season 18 of 35 for 175 yards. Meanwhile, former starter Hoyer is questionable with a shoulder injury suffered in the second half against the Panthers. Thus Cleveland has promoted undrafted rookie Connor Shaw from the practice squad and he could get the call. If Shaw starts, it will be the third year in a row and fourth time in the last five seasons the Browns have started their third quarterback in the season finale. The team called Rex Grossman but he said no. Cleveland is an opening 9-point dog at sportsbooks in a must-win game for Baltimore.

 

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
Rodgers not only played through the flu in a Week 16 win in Tampa, he also suffered a strained left calf muscle during it. He still went 31 of 40 for 318 yards and a touchdown but was limping pretty badly after the game. There's no question that Rodgers will play in Sunday's home Week 17 showdown with Detroit for the NFC North title, but it's pretty clear he won't be 100 percent and may have little to no mobility. The Lions do have one of the NFL's best defense. The Packers are 7.5-point favorites on NFL odds.

 

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
Rivers has a bulging disc in his back that probably will require surgery, but he will play Sunday in Kansas City as a win gets the Chargers a wild-card spot. Obviously one huge hit in that area could send Rivers to the sideline, however. Rivers finished 33-of-54 for 356 yards in last Saturday's 38-35 overtime victory in San Francisco that helped keep the Chargers' playoff hopes alive. He was intercepted three times, but he threw four touchdown passes. Rivers was 17-for-31 for 205 yards with two scores and a pick in a loss to Kansas City early this season. The Chiefs, who need a win and help to reach the playoffs, are 2.5-point favorites on NFL odds.

 

A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
Hopefully you didn't have Green on your fantasy football team in the championship game this week because he didn't catch a single pass in Monday night's win over Denver. Now we may know why as Green suffered a bruised right biceps following a big hit on Cincinnati's second drive of the game. He played through it, after getting X-rays, but clearly was not 100 percent. Green says he will play if at all possible Week 17 at Pittsburgh with the AFC North title on the line. The Steelers opened as 3-point favorites at sportsbooks.

 

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts
Indianapolis has no reason to play any of its starters this Sunday at Tennessee because the Colts are locked into their playoff spot. Coach Chuck Pagano, however, says his starters will all play. We will see about Hilton as he missed the Week 16 blowout loss in Dallas with a hamstring injury. Hilton really should take another week to get that healthy because the Colts will host a wild-card game.  Yet Pagano says that he expects Andrew Luck's favorite target to play. Luck clearly missed Hilton vs. the Cowboys as Luck only completed three passes for more than 10 yards and threw for a career-low 109 yards before being taken out of the Dallas loss in the third quarter. The Colts are -7 vs. the Titans.

 

Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons
Atlanta hosts an NFC South winner-take-all game against Carolina on Sunday and the team is hopeful that Jackson will play. He missed the second half of the Week 16 win in New Orleans with a strained quadriceps muscle, but the team doesn't think it's serious. If Jackson can't go, that means an even bigger role for rookie Devonta Freeman. Atlanta is -3.5 against the Panthers.

 

Dominic Raiola, C, Lions
It's not too often I will include a center on this injury list, but Raiola has been a mainstay of Detroit's offensive line for years. He's not hurt but suspended for Sunday's NFC North winner-take-all game at Green Bay. Raiola stepped on the ankle of Bears defensive lineman Ego Ferguson in the Week 16 victory. Raiola said it was unintentional, but he has a long history of some dirty play. The NFL said this is Raiola's sixth safety-related rules violation since 2010. Rookie Travis Swanson likely will start in his place; Swanson started three games at right guard earlier this season. Raiola is appealing but those are almost never successful. The 14-year veteran has started 99 straight games and is the franchise leader in games played. The Lions are +7.5 at Green Bay.

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