Usually, if you've found your way into the NFL playoffs, you've either been lucky in the injury department or you've been good enough to overcome any injuries you've encountered. But that doesn't mean bumps and bruises and broken bones won't play a role this weekend and throughout January and February. Here's a look at the key injuries surrounding the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs.
Bengals vs. Texans: Benjarvus Green-Ellis
Green-Ellis had hit the 100-yard mark in four of his previous six games before straining his quad while warming up to play the Ravens in Week 17. He sat that one out but was able to practice on a limited basis to start the week on Wednesday. It looks as though he'll play Saturday in Houston, but the Law Firm certainly could have used that extra day to continue to recover. Considering how well Green-Ellis was playing, it's quite the drop-off from him to Brian Leonard and/or Cedric Peerman. The Bengals have the momentum and the overall ability to win this game, but it'll help greatly if they get BJE back for a good Houston defense.
Vikings vs. Packers: Antoine Winfield, Randall Cobb, Charles Woodson
Winfield, who is quite simply one of the best cornerbacks in football, will likely be needed if the Vikings are going to pull off an upset at Lambeau Saturday night. But Winfield left Sunday's game after aggravating a hand injury and he had yet to return to practice to start the week. The coaching staff has indicated Winfield will attempt to play in Green Bay. Cornerbacks can hang in with busted hands, so hopefully the veteran finds a way.
Without Winfield, the Vikes could have a lot of trouble slowing down Cobb. The dynamic Packers receiver looks as though he's set to return to Green Bay's lineup after missing Week 17 due to an ankle injury. If he returns and Winfield isn't available, it's a whole new ballgame at Lambeau.
And the Packers will also be getting Charles Woodson back in the lineup for the first time since October. While he might not play a ton, that's still another sign the Vikings could have a lot of trouble moving it through the air against that deep secondary.
Colts vs. Ravens: Anquan Boldin, Marshal Yanda, Ray Lewis
All three Ravens starters look as though they're set to return in time for an interesting Sunday matchup with Indianapolis as Baltimore begins to get a little healthier at just the right time. Boldin (shoulder) and Lewis (triceps) are both practicing fully, while Yanda (ankle) was limited Wednesday. All three could give the Ravens quite the boost, especially with Lewis stating on Wednesday that this will be his last playoff run before he walks away.
This young Indy team is fun, but the Colts might be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Seahawks vs. Redskins: Kory Lichtensteiger
Lichtensteiger sprained an ankle Sunday against Dallas. Losing him would be huge. The veteran guard is the best interior offensive lineman Washington has, and with Robert Griffin III hobbled, getting a push against a physical Seattle defensive front won't be easy for Alfred Morris if he doesn't have Lichtensteiger at left guard.