LOS ANGELES — The NFL hasn’t lost a star or two, it has lost a constellation.
A slew of injuries Sunday either ended the seasons or severely hampered a host of prominent players, among them St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford, Houston linebacker Brian Cushing and Indianapolis receiver Reggie Wayne, all of whom will sit out the rest of the season because of knee injuries.
Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler is out at least a month because of a torn groin muscle. Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley remained in the hospital Monday because of a neck injury, and his football future is uncertain. Denver cornerback Champ Bailey aggravated a foot injury that had sidelined him. And running backs Arian Foster (hamstring) of Houston and Doug Martin (shoulder) of Tampa Bay are nursing injuries that could keep them off the field for a while.
Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck was speaking specifically about Wayne’s torn anterior cruciate ligament, but he might as well have been speaking for many teams when he said, “It stinks to the nth degree.”
Luck, who led the Colts to a 39-33 victory over Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos, called Wayne “more than a teammate. I think undoubtedly, unquestionably, he’s been the leader of our offense and one of the great leaders of this team. He made my rookie year so much easier. A phenomenal football player, so it stinks.”
At least the Colts get a week off to figure out their contingency plan. St. Louis doesn’t have that luxury. The Rams play host to NFC West-leading Seattle on Monday night. Kellen Clemens, the only other quarterback on the St. Louis roster, will start against the Seahawks, but the Rams plan to scour the free-agent market to find a longer-term answer.
“We’re going to take advantage of the extra day with the Monday night game and make sure we make the right decisions that will include potentially working out a number of potential replacements,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “It would not include a trade. We’re not going to go ahead and trade for a quarterback, but we have some names.”
Cutler will be out at least a month because of a torn groin muscle and linebacker Lance Briggs has a small fracture in his shoulder, the Bears announced.
Cutler was injured Sunday when he was sacked for a team-record 158th time since joining the Bears in 2009. His injury will not require surgery, the Bears said.
“I’m only confident by what they’ve told me,” Coach Marc Trestman said of the quarterback’s status. “This is a minimum of four weeks. Then he’ll be evaluated week to week. ... Four weeks is a reasonable start. And then it’ll be week to week. I’m encouraged by the prognosis.”
The Bears are off Sunday and will have 15 days to prepare quarterback Josh McCown for a Monday night showdown at Green Bay.
FLIPPING THE SCRIPT
It’s amazing that Kansas City is the only undefeated team in the league, considering the Chiefs were a league-worst 2-14 last season. In each of the last 10 years, at least one team has gone from worst to first in its division from one year to the next, and Kansas City is in position to do so, although Denver will certainly have something to say about that.
In the meantime, the Chiefs will look to continue their run at home against Cleveland on Sunday, facing a Browns team that has lost two games in a row after winning three consecutive games.
For what it’s worth, Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson provided the Chiefs with a bit of bulletin-board material Monday, in the wake of Cleveland’s 31-13 loss to Green Bay.
“We’re built to go through this,” Jackson said. “We’ll be fine. We’re going to go out Sunday and I’m more than confident we’re going to come out of there with a win. I really am.”
LIKE OLD TIMES
Manning was honored when he returned to Indianapolis on Sunday night, and now it’s the Broncos’ turn to arrange a tribute.
When Mike Shanahan brings his Washington Redskins to Denver on Sunday, the Broncos will thank him with a brief highlight video of his years in the “Mile High City.” Shanahan coached Denver to two Super Bowl victories and a team-record 146 victories.
WIN SOME, LOSE SOME
Only two of Week 8’s 13 games pit winning teams: Dallas (4-3) at Detroit (4-3) and the New York Jets (4-3) at Cincinnati (5-2).
Fans in London will get a second opportunity to see a game live when San Francisco plays Jacksonville. The 49ers are among the league’s hottest teams, having won four games in a row, and the Jaguars are a flat-lining 0-7.