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Week 16 injuries: Von Miller, Steve Smith, Clay Matthews and others go down, affecting playoff race

Eric Edholm
Shutdown Corner

It's a fair bet that Roger Goodell won't be bringing up the idea of an 18-game schedule for the next week or so.

Week 16 featured several potentially serious injuries to players still involved in the postseason race.

The most serious appears to be that of Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, who suffered a knee injury that the team fears could be serious. If so, that could deliver a huge blow to a team that has legitimate Super Bowl aspirations but without Miller might not have the defense to do so.

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith suffered a knee injury and will have an MRI Monday, but the team thinks he might have avoided disaster. The Panthers remain in the hunt for the No. 2 seed, which could give Smith an extra week of rest if Smith's injury is not deemed serious.

The Green Bay Packers' postseason hopes took a blow following their dramatic loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they also took a hit when Clay Matthews re-injured his left thumb and did not return to the game.

The New Orleans Saints' defense also took a blow with what appears to be a season-ending broken ankle for safety Kenny Vaccaro. He was the do-it-all defender who helped rally the secondary on a rebuilt defense. Now, the Saints are fighting for their playoff lives.

The New England Patriots slammed the Baltimore Ravens, 41-7, but they also lost Shane Vereen (groin) along the way, and that's an injury at a thin position that could come back to hurt the Patriots, even though they clinched the AFC East Sunday and remain in the hunt for the top seed.

Other significant injuries in Week 16 that did not affect the postseason race include St. Louis Rams left tackle Jake Long, who might have torn his ACL, and Buffalo Bills receiver Marquise Goodwin, who also suffered a knee injury.

Will the league still consider an 18-game schedule going forward? Yes. Because it means more money in their eyes. But should they consider it? That's another, bigger question given all the late-season injuries that happened this week and seemingly happen in the final weeks of nearly every regular season.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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