The Indianapolis Colts announced Tuesday they have placed starting quarterback Carson Wentz on the reserve/COVID-19 list. It is unknown if Wentz tested positive for the coronavirus or is a close contact. Wentz is unvaccinated, so he would have been forced to stay away from team facilities for 10 days under the NFL’s previous COVID protocols. The league adopted new protocols later Tuesday, however, reducing mandated quarantines to five days for asymptomatic players. That leaves the door open for Wentz to return ahead of Sunday’s game against the Raiders.

Sixth-round rookie Sam Ehlinger is Wentz’s backup, and he would be in line to make his first career start if Wentz cannot go.

Indy currently owns the No. 5 seed in the AFC at 9-6. The 9-6 New England Patriots own the wild card spot behind them, and then there are four teams at 8-7. It goes without saying that these final two games are incredibly important for Indy. According to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh, the Colts still have good value to make the playoffs even if Wentz misses the final two games of the regular season. Per Oh, Indy’s playoff chances dip from 98.6 percent to 93.9 percent without Wentz, a change of 4.7 percent. The Colts’ projected win total dips from 10.6 to 10.4. 

The NFL’s new COVID protocols, which benefit Wentz this week, come after external guidance related to COVID. On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it had shortened the recommended time of isolation for those infected with the coronavirus from 10 days to five days if asymptomatic, followed by five more days of wearing a mask around others.

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