As the race for the final playoff spots in the AFC comes down the stretch, two of the most important quarterbacks in that race find themselves sitting on the sidelines for key games.
In Cincinnati, Andy Dalton suffered a fractured thumb, trying to make a tackle following an interception in Sunday’s loss to the Steelers. The good news for the Bengals is that the injury will not require surgery, and Dalton has been officially listed as week-to-week.
Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton Hope to be Back This Season
The Bengals will turn to A.J. McCarron in this week’s game at San Francisco. Looking ahead, they will likely need the Alabama signal caller to be able to pull off a victory over the Denver Broncos in week 16 if the Bengals are to clinch a first round bye in the AFC. They currently own the second seed in the conference, but have the same record as Denver, and are only ahead on a tie-breaker. That week 16 game looms as crucial in the race, and in giving the NFL’s QB rating leader, Dalton, an extra week to recover before the playoffs begin.
While Cincinnati has all but clinched their spot in the playoffs, and are now fighting for positioning, things are a lot more desperate for the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts find themselves tied for first in the AFC South, but are coming off a blowout loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, in a game that saw Matt Hasselbeck injured. The Colts are also without star starter Andrew Luck, who suffered a lacerated kidney five weeks ago against the Broncos.
Luck has told reporters that he hopes to practice this week, and to return to the lineup as soon as possible, but Colts coach Chuck Pagano admitted the team did not know if their star quarterback would be able to return any time soon.
“The hope is that you can start practicing before (being cleared to play) so that when you are clear, you can hit the ground running,” Luck said. “I am such a big believer in practice and always will be. You can’t just show up after (being out) however many weeks and practice for a week, go out and expect to be where you want to be. So it’ll be a little bit of a learning curve again, but I don’t imagine it to be too big of an issue.”
Asked whether Luck has gained clearance to practice, Pagano said, “I have not heard anything from our trainers or doctors on that.”
BALTIMORE, MD – SEPTEMBER 07: Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates with wide receiver A.J. Green #18 after Green’s game winning touchdown during an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on September 7, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)