The bye week will come in handy for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who could use the rest after Miami defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh landed on his right ankle in Sunday’s game.
Brady completed 12 of 21 passes for a season-low 134 yards in the 20-10 defeat, the Patriots’ fourth loss in six games. The reigning Super Bowl MVP was sacked two times and hit a half-dozen more, including a late shot from Olivier Vernon and the hit from Suh that left Brady limping.
“I’ve had worse,” Brady said of the injury. “I’ve had plenty of worse injuries than this one.
“Suh’s a big guy. He just came down on the back of me and … 300 pounds, he just collapses the back of your leg, there’s going to be some residual damage from that.”
Brady said on his weekly radio appearance that he would be receiving treatment, “as always.”
After winning their first 10 games to spur talk of a second undefeated season, the defending Super Bowl champions have seen mounting injuries take their toll. The Patriots finished 12-4 — good enough for their 12th AFC East title in 13 years and their sixth consecutive first-round playoff bye but one victory short of clinching home-field advantage through the playoffs.
No clear favorite
Five teams essentially are co-favorites to win the Super Bowl, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers.
“It’s kind of like in the Tour de France where you have a lead pack,” said Jay Kornegay, who runs the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook. “It’s a wide-open affair as some of these elite teams have struggled down the stretch.”
Three teams — the Patriots, Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers — are 9-2 co-favorites at the Westgate to hold the Lombardi Trophy aloft in Santa Clara next month. Two more — the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos — are just behind at 5-1.
Decision on hold
Broncos Coach Gary Kubiak isn’t ready to name his starting quarterback for the playoffs.
Choosing between Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, though, is a nice problem for him to have.
The Broncos (12-4) are seeded No. 1 in the AFC playoffs and host a divisional round game Jan. 17. They avoided slipping into the wild-card round when Manning, making his first NFL relief appearance, rallied the Broncos to a 27-20 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
“In this business you work really, really hard to get in the position that we’re in right now and to be a part of this next month,” Kubiak said. “There’s always going to be tough decisions to make.”
Minnesota Vikings tight end Rhett Ellison, formerly of USC, will sit out the playoffs because of a torn patellar tendon in his right knee that will require surgery and a six-month recovery. Coach Mike Zimmer revealed the timetable for Ellison, a key run blocker and a reliable receiver on the limited occasions the ball has been thrown his way. ...Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus helped the Buffalo Bills end the New York Jets’ playoff chances Sunday while playing with a broken left foot. Dareus revealed the injury by posting a picture and note on his Instagram account. ...San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, demoted in November, has a torn ligament in his right thumb and surgery has been recommended. ...Johnny Manziel showed up at the Cleveland Browns’ practice facility after being spotted in Las Vegas over the weekend. Manziel was excused from being at the home finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers because of a concussion, but owner Jimmy Haslam said the second-year quarterback failed to report for medical treatment for his head injury.