On Thursday night we passed along a report that Broncos wideout Wes Welker could miss Week 16's matchup against the Texans. No surprise there, but Welker could be out longer, reportedly sitting until the Broncos begin the playoffs.
It's likely that Welker will be ruled out of Sunday's game against Houston on Friday; ESPN reports on Friday that Welker likely also miss the Broncos regular-season finale against the Raiders in Week 17.
Welker suffered concussions in Weeks 11 and 14 and still hasn't been medically cleared, so this isn't a massive surprise.
Having him skip Week 16 and Week 17 will give him three weeks of rest -- assuming the Broncos can manage to win the games, against two teams with six wins combined -- including the first-round bye Denver's expected to receive.
If Denver doesn't win, it would bring the Chiefs and Patriots into play for the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. So it's not like there's no urgency here; there's quite a bit actually. A Chiefs loss this week coupled with a Broncos win, however, would secure at least one of the top two spots. If the Patriots fall to the Ravens in addition to that scenario, Denver looks great heading into Week 17 against Oakland.
Therefore sitting Welker -- while not preferable -- is a calculated gamble worth taking. It's also, you know, better for his own personal health.
As for the actual play on the field, Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase doesn't sound worried about how Denver will look.
“Not with the group we have," Gase said Thursday. "With [WR Andre Caldwell], [TE Jacob] Tamme, [WR Eric Decker] being able to move around -- we've got a really good group of guys to fill in. Wes is a really good player and he's a hard guy to replace. But we've got a good group of guys that can fill in and make sure that we can put guys in position to make conversions."
Of course it doesn't hurt to have Peyton Manning either. Though they fell to the Chargers in Week 15, Denver got lucky as the Pats and Bengals both managed to lose and allowed them some wiggle room in the AFC playoff picture.
Mix in a ten-day window to get prepped for the lowly Texans and it might not matter who Manning's throwing to on Sunday.