Here are the key injuries we're monitoring after Week 12's Sunday action.
Ryan Mallett, QB, Houston Texans (pectoral): The Texans started Mallett against the Bengals on Sunday despite the fact that he reportedly aggravated a right pectoral muscle injury in warmups. The result was clear -- this was an injured quarterback under duress. Mallett completed just 21-of-45 passes for 189 yards (that's 4.2 yards per attempt), and the normally unmobile quarterback had trouble navigating pressure. Mallett underwent an MRI Monday that confirmed a pectoral tear, ending his season just as it began really -- this was his second straight game as a starter, and the second in his NFL career. The Texans will likely turn to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick for the rest of the season.
Aqib Talib, CB, Denver Broncos (hamstring): Talib left Denver's win over the Dolphins with a hamstring injury, tried to play through it and then missed the rest of the game. If he's out for any more time, it's a problem -- Talib has played the most passing snaps of any Denver defensive back, and though he's lost some of those tests (he's got an 82.3 opponent quarterback rating allowed, which is about league average), it would certainly upset the balance of power in that secondary if he's sidelined. Chris Harris Jr. has played lights-out all season as Talib's bookend, but rookie Bradley Roby plays about half his snaps as the team's primary slot defender.
Tashaun Gipson, FS, Cleveland Browns (knee): Gipson, one of the league's more underrated players, has enjoyed an outstanding season that may be over, if the Browns' fears come true. Gipson collided with cornerback Joe Haden in the fourth quarter of Cleveland's win over the Texans, and the team reportedly believes his knee injury to be serious. UPDATE: Gipson has reportedly been diagnosed with a torn MCL, which will cost him the rest of the regular season. He could, however, return for the playoffs.
"Gipson is one of the best safeties, one of the top three in the NFL for sure," Haden told Cleveland.com. "Losing him, you can't replace him, but in the NFL nobody is going to feel bad for you."
Gipson currently leads the league with six interceptions.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks (back): Lynch was sidelined for a couple of series in Seattle's crucial win over the Cardinals, and Pete Carroll said after the game that it was due to Lynch being sick to his stomach. The back, Carroll mentioned, is just a recurring issue. "We don't have the 'degree of the urp,'" the coach quipped, leading most to believe that the back issues that have bothered Lynch for a while were not a major concern. But the Seahawks have to turn around after that physical game and travel to San Francisco for a Thanksgiving night game against a 49ers team that always loves to take every punch Seattle throws and answer in kind. Robert Turbin will likely see a lot of practice time in that short week (Lynch generally gets mid-week off), and you may see more of Turbin on Thursday night.
Kyle Fuller, CB, Chicago Bears (knee): The Bears were able to extricate a win over the hapless Buccaneers on Sunday, but may have lost their outstanding rookie defender for a while in the process. Fuller left the game before halftime with a pretty serious limp and did not return; Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that Fuller suffered a minor MCL sprain. The problem there is that the Bears next play on Thanksgiving, which might not give Fuller time to recover. Chicago faces the Lions, who boast receiver Corey Fuller, Kyle's brother; the two were hoping to go after each other for the first time in the pros.
Andre Smith, RT, Cincinnati Bengals (triceps): Smith left the Bengals' win over the Texans in the first quarter with an arm injury that FOX Sports' Mike Garafolo is reporting could be a torn triceps. That could leave the team without its front-side pass protector for the playoff push, which would be a major concern. Through 12 weeks, no offensive line has allowed fewer total pressures than Cincinnati's 64. Marshall Newhouse replaced Smith in early November when he suffered an ankle injury, and the results were not pretty.