We're Black and Blue All Over:
In our fantasy dramas, we expect all hands on deck for our Wild Week 17, in which two of our teams need victories to help ensure a playoff spot while a third is hoping to improve its playoff seed. But that's not the case in real life, and one player who has already been ruled out is Green Bay Packers defensive back Charles Woodson.
Woodson (collarbone) has been participating in portions of practice for a month and had hoped to get some regular-season action before the playoffs begin. But the Packers want to extend his recovery time as long as possible and haven't cleared him for contact yet.
The decision sparked concern that Woodson has suffered a reinjury or setback of some kind, but Woodson told Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette that "everything's looking good but I just think the longer you can hold it off, then I guess the better it is. So we're just waiting."
Coach Mike McCarthy called the decision "clearly based on" the recommendation of the Packers' medical staff. If the Packers beat the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, they'll have a first-round bye in the playoffs -- and yet another week for Woodson to recover.
We'll continue to monitor the situation for the next two weeks. And one programming note: our ESPN.com 2012 season in review will post Thursday afternoon.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Packers defensive lineman C.J. Wilson is trying to come back from a knee injury this week, notes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
In a statement, deposed Packers center Jeff Saturday said he thinks Packers right guard Josh Sitton should have made the Pro Bowl instead of him, according to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder: "If Ponder can lead the Vikings to the postseason by vanquishing their archrival, he should earn some benevolence from fickle fans willing to lay down their pitchforks for at least one week."
The Vikings' early success in games has helped spur them recently, writes Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune.
Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield on his broken right hand, via Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com: "It's kind of hard to say right now [how it will impact]. It's kind of hard to squeeze right now. My pain level, I'll tolerate that. That won't be an issue."
It appears that backup safety Anthony Walters will have to start for the Chicago Bears this Sunday because of Chris Conte's hamstring injury, according to Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
The Bears' lopsided reception distribution isn't a good thing on offense, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler wants to spread the wealth, but it hasn't happened. Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times explains.
Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) has still not returned to practice, notes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is hoping to throw a few touchdown passes against the Bears after a two-game drought, according to Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.
Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh would like for retired defensive lineman Warren Sapp to mentor him rather than simply offering public criticism. Chris McCosky of the Detroit News has more.