With the conclusion of Week 17, another NFL regular season is officially in the books. And as much as we’ll miss spending the bulk of our weekends watching endless amounts of football, we’re more than excited for the road ahead. After all, there are few things in sports more enjoyable than the NFL postseason. Of course, once the playoffs begin, anything can happen. While talent got teams to the postseason, any number of factors could keep these same clubs from advancing to the later stages.
If you ask us, one of those key elements absolutely revolves around a depleted roster. Given the nature of the game, we expect the bulk of the playoff teams to be full of banged up players. However, following the final week’s matchups, it’s safe to say that a few recent injuries will prove to be more influential than others. With that in mind, here’s a look at the five worst injuries from Week 17 of the 2015 NFL season.
1. Charles Tillman, defensive back, Carolina Panthers
Injury: Torn ACL
Diagnosis: Out for the season
With a 38-10 beating of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Carolina Panthers put the finishing touches on an impressive 15-1 regular season, letting the world know that the NFC officially runs through Carolina. However, all this good came with a cost, as cornerback Charles Tillman suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the process. While the Panthers will enter the postseason as the NFC’s No. 1 seed, they will now attempt to make a Super Bowl run without two of their top three cornerbacks.
2. Duane Brown, offensive tackle, Houston Texans
Injury: Torn tendon in right quad
Diagnosis: Out for the season
The Houston Texans clinched the AFC South with a 30-6 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Unfortunately, the day wasn’t all sunshine and roses. After tearing a tendon in his right quad, offensive tackle Duane will require surgery to repair the damage. As a result, while the rest of Texans now turn their attention toward preparing for an upcoming wild-card matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, Brown must face the harsh reality that his season is officially over.
3. DeAngelo Williams, running back, Pittsburgh Steelers
Injury: Sprained ankle
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, who managed to snag the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC, their upcoming wild-card showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals may prove to be more challenging than they would like. While running back DeAngelo Williams didn’t suffer any significant damage to his ankle, an MRI revealed that he did, in fact, sustain a sprain. As NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, “[The injury] might be the kind of thing that would keep him out a couple games in the regular season, but as we know, this is not the regular season, so do not assume DeAngelo Williams will be out this week.” If you’re among the rabid Steelers faithful, you sure hope that’s the case.
4. Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota Vikings
Injury: Back injury
The Minnesota Vikings will enter the 2015 postseason as the NFC North champions after traveling to Lambeau Field and defeating the Green Bay Packers 20-13. However, they will do so a little banged up, as newly-crowned rushing champion, Adrian Peterson, suffered a lower back injury during the Week 17 victory. The good news: the X-rays came back negative. The bad news: The Vikings still have to face the Seattle Seahawks.
5. Tom Brady, quarterback, New England Patriots
Injury: High ankle sprain
Not only were the New England Patriots unable to capture the AFC’s No. 1 seed, but they also added to the team’s growing list of injured players. According to NFL Media’s Albert Breer, quarterback Tom Brady suffered a high ankle sprain during New England’s 20-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Fortunately, the Pats don’t play again until Saturday, January 16, giving their star quarterback plenty of time to rest and recuperate. However, let’s be real, when it comes to players who the Patriots can’t afford to be without, Brady easily sits at the top of the list.