COVID has already had an impact on the NFL this season. Over 100 players were added to the COVID-list on Monday after 96 players tested positive. We've seen the Cleveland Browns, Washington Football Team and New Orleans Saints lose pivotal games with their third string quarterbacks after COVID knocked their top two options out of the lineup. Week 17 looks like it will be more of the same.
Carson Wentz tests positive
Indianapolis Colts' quarterback Carson Wentz is the latest NFL star to test positive for COVID-19. Wentz, who is unvaccinated, will miss at least the Colts' Week 17 game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
With a 9-6 record, the Colts were sitting pretty in terms of clinching a berth in the playoffs. Finishing the season with a home game against the Raiders and then a contest with Jacksonville seemed likely to get the Colts to 11 wins. Now, the situation is murky.
With Wentz out, Sam Ehlinger is next in line to start for Indianapolis. The former Texas Longhorns star is in his rookie season. In college, he was known as a punishing running quarterback who could make plays with his arm. It'll be interesting to see how his playing style translates to the NFL.
Starting Ehlinger in a big game seems like a risky proposition. We saw what Ian Book looked like in a similar situation. Reportedly, the Colts are being proactive and have discussed the idea of giving Philip Rivers a call.
Colts need to call Philip Rivers. Have heard it's being discussed.
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) December 28, 2021
Rivers started for the Colts last season before retiring in the off-season. Rivers led the team to the playoffs and his departure sparked the Colts to trade for Wentz in the first place.
On the flip side, this is a big development for the playoff prospects of the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders sit on the playoff bubble with an 8-7 record. They've played Nick Mullens and Drew Lock in the past two weeks and now look like they'll likely get to feast on another replacement.
Line movement has been massive
After opening as a 7-point favorite, early week action was favoring the Colts. They were up to a 7.5-point favorite at home over the Raiders prior to the news breaking about Wentz.
Now, with Wentz out, the Colts are just a 1.5-point favorite over the Raiders. The total has also dropped from 45.5 points to its current number of 40.5 points.
It's worth noting that in addition to Wentz, the Colts might be without all five starters on their offensive line. They survived missing four of their offensive linemen against the Cardinals in Week 16, but another week of replacement players and missing your starting quarterback might be too much to overcome.
This has been a bit of an outbreak for the Colts over the past few days, so there's always the possibility of more players testing positive in the coming days. On behalf of fantasy football owners preparing for their championship matchup, I suggest the Colts put Jonathan Taylor in a massive bubble for the next few days.