Three of these four teams are contenders and the fourth team is fighting for its playoff chances.
The aforementioned quarterbacks include Philly's Michael Vick (concussion), San Francisco's Alex Smith (concussion), Chicago's Jay Cutler (concussion) and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger (right shoulder sprain).
Vick has been ruled out of Sunday's game against Washington, as rookie Nick Foles will make his first career start for the struggling 3-6 Eagles. Foles, filling in for the injured Vick this past Sunday, completed 22 of his 32 pass attempts for 219 yards, 1 TD and an interception against Dallas. The interception was returned 47 yards for a Brandon Carr touchdown.
If Foles can keep the Eagles competitive, who knows how long Vick will end up being out of the lineup. This may have just lost him the starting job if Foles can take advantage of this opportunity.
Smith, before leaving the game, went 7/8 for 72 yards and a TD before Colin Kaepernick took over and threw for 117 yards on the Niners' way to the first tie since the Eagles and Bengals ended in a 13-13 tie during the 2008 regular season.
Smith appears to be doing much better after suffering the concussion on a blow to the head against the Rams. He's been following NFL protocol for concussions, and if he's cleared by a neurologist he could play in San Fran's Monday night game with the Bears.
Speaking of the Bears, news on Cutler in Chicago is similar to that of Smith. It's unclear as to whether or not he'll play but since no significant news has broken that he isn't likely to play, I think we'll see him in uniform. Smith and Cutler's concussions suffered in Week 10 will certainly make for a interesting Week 11 match-up, should they both suit up and play for their respective teams.
The big news this week has without a doubt been Ben Roethlisberger. All of these concussions have been overshadowed by Roethlisberger's right shoulder sprain suffered in Pittsburgh's 16-13 overtime victory over Kansas City on Monday night. His agent claimed that it is an unusual injury, which tells me this may be a little more serious than just a sprain.
Either way, he's been ruled out for Sunday night's game against AFC North rival Baltimore, leaving the door open for former Jaguars starter Byron Leftwich to make his first official start as a Pittsburgh Steeler.
In terms of contending teams being effected by the injured quarterbacks, I don't think the Bears or Niners have much to worry about, even if Josh McCown starts for the Bears and Kaepernick the Niners this Monday. It's the Steelers that have the most to worry about. With no set timetable for Roethlisberger's recovery, it looks as if it will just be a week-to-week basis until team doctors know more.
One thing is for sure, however. If Pittsburgh is forced to rely on the right arm of Leftwich for the long-term, the team's playoff hopes may go down the drain.
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