The sportsbook handles get larger by the week, as NFL matchups move to the Divisional Round and NFL betting odds get tighter. Sharpen your weekend with the BetUS divisional-round injury report where we cover every injured player on all the remaining teams to get you up to date on who’s playing and who’s actually too sore to participate in a playoff game. (Dawg, your leg better be falling off if you’re not on the field for this one.)
Los Angeles Rams (45½) at Green Bay Packers (-7)
Los Angeles Rams
Last week, Los Angeles Rams’ coach Sean McVay enjoyed the luxury of playing fast and loose with naming his starting quarterback. To some surprise, John Wolford started but lasted a mere six minutes before sustaining a neck stinger. Wolford was already on his way to this hospital before Jared Goff threw a decent pass.
Goff’s first passes were sketchy. But that was because he’d only had just over a week of rehab. And that’s for a screw that the surgeon inserted in his throwing thumb. Now, Goff says his thumb is fine, and he looked better as the game progressed. He’s now the full-time starter as the team declared Wolford out for Saturday, and named Blake Bortles the backup. (So, this time, they’ll probably activate him for game day.)
The most prominent player on the injury list, DE Aaron Donald, lost his questionable designation when he put in a limited Thursday practice. He’s starting, and wants the whole world to know. (Especially you, Aaron Rodgers!)
That’s a less likely proposition for a couple of others. Namely, WR Cooper Kupp, whose knee contusion kept him from practice the entire week but is only listed as questionable. He’ll likely generate early game-day NFL news if he’s a scratch, but certainly, check his name on the team’s inactive list which gets released about an hour or so before kickoff.
The other questionable player, LG David Edwards, left last Sunday’s win over the Seattle Seahawks about a third of the way through. While he’s only listed questionable and is also worth noting if he’s active at game time, the team has already noted Bobby Evans would start in his place. To their credit, they returned all-pro LT Andrew Whitworth last week after a long absence to the injured reserve.
By midweek, WR/PR Nsimba Webster cleared the injury report from his nagging hamstring with a full practice, the same as Thursday.
Otherwise, though notable, the Rams deemed OLB Terrell Lewis out for Saturday’s game with an ankle injury.
Green Bay Packers
Of all the season’s COVID exposure near-misses, the Green Bay Packers seems to be the biggest. The Packers are still anxiously holding their breath on what could be the year’s most devastating of all.
Having lost more than a couple of offensive linemen throughout the year, most impactfully star LT David Bakhtiari, the Packers signed a pick-up off the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad in OT Jared Veldheer. Green Bay decided earlier in the week their rookie-in-progress, Simon Stepaniak, wasn’t ready (and has since been moved to the injured reserve). On top of that, RT Rick Wagner was still listed questionable with a knee injury.
So the Veldheer signing made sense and even provided an awesome back story as Veldheer was set to become the first player in NFL history to play for two different teams in the same playoffs — until Wednesday when the NFL COVID-19 news exploded that he tested positive.
The giant, red panic button was pushed and the Green Bay Packers’ practice facility went into heavy contact tracing and testing, expecting some indefinite number of players to be lost for Saturday’s game. To their great fortune, they’ve now passed their third day of testing. As of Friday, no further positives have appeared. Though they’ll still have game-day clearance testing on Saturday, the Packers appear to have avoided disaster on this front. And the team cleared Rick Wagner of the injury report on Friday after a week of limited practice.
Green Bay lists only one player on the injury report in the end. DE Kingsley Keke still remains on concussion protocol after suffering one back on Week 16. Though he’s listed doubtful, it seems unlikely he’ll be cleared to play by Saturday.
A handful of players who carried questionable tags during their week of limited practice have since all shed them in the final report. Now, TE Marcedes Lewis (knee), WR Allen Lazard (abdomen), Equanimeous St. Brown (knee), CB Kevin King (Achilles’) and OLB Za’Darius Smith (ankle) should all be expected to go without issue.
Check back for scores and more: Los Angeles Rams vs Green Bay Packers divisional playoff game.
Divisional-Round Injury Report: Leans
Though some money has come for the Rams, the point spread stubbornly remains at a touchdown. Part of the reason might be to limit exposure to the obvious six-point teaser that will just hang there if the Packers drop to 6½-point favorites. (Who wouldn’t take that?)
While we’d play the Packers on that teaser, at this price we have no choice but to lean to the Los Angeles Rams +7 flat. That said, the number may not be around come gameday. We’d be just as eager laying six or a cheap 6½ with the Packers instead.
(If somehow both Edwards and Kupp were scratched, that would be a good reason to turn heel and back Green Bay. However, it’s not expected to be the case.)
The weather is promising to be a relatively nice day for January in Wisconsin. Little to no chance of game-time snow and the winds are not forecast to be prohibitive. Even so, Jarden Goff’s tiny sample size (two) of cold-weather games doesn’t forecast well at all. He threw five picks and no touchdowns in those games, earning a total QBR of 16.4.
The total opened at 46 and shed a half-point since. We’ll lean under the total of 45½ but can only speculate NFL markets will move it down another half-point at most.
Baltimore Ravens (50) at Buffalo Bills (-2½)
Though he never appeared on this week’s NFL injury report, quarterback Lamar Jackson got more than enough attention over his thumb in last Sunday’s win over the Tennessee Titans. Jackson donned a glove for a part of the game. This led to a flood of reporter questions leading into the practice week. To everyone’s relief, he fully practiced all week and, as noted, never showed with an injury designation.
Other than Jackson, the Baltimore Ravens reflect coach John Harbaugh’s comment from last week that the team is the healthiest it’s been all year, as they have only a couple of questionable players coming into Saturday.
Of them, CB Marcus Peters missed the first two days of practice before getting in limited participation on Thursday. He still lists with a questionable designation, but coach Harbaugh anticipated Peters being ready come game day. It’s still worth making sure he’s not on the inactives list though.
Another name to check on that list will be RT D.J. Fluker. Fluker should also be playing, having limited practice the entire week, but it remains to be seen if he’ll start. He’d been commonly rotating with Tyre Phillips recently in game action, and it’s expected they’ll be doing more of the same. If for some reason Fluker will be scratched, we’d expect to hear of some Friday roster moves.
While not thin at O-line, the Ravens did just recently move backup OG Ben Bredeson to the injured reserve last week when a knee injury occurred just in time for the roster spot to be available for CB Davontae Harris. Harris also just returned from a thigh injury that’s kept him sidelined since Week 16.
Finally, OLB Matt Judon returned to a full Thursday practice after missing the first two days with the dreaded “illness” description. Though obviously not COVID related, Judon’s availability was in jeopardy. But, he is now also completely cleared from the injury report and will play.
The Buffalo Bills lose only one player to injury from last Saturday’s win over the Indianapolis Colts but it’s a substantive one. Sustaining a high-ankle sprain bad enough to put him on the injured reserve, RB Zack Moss’ season effectively ends now. (Notwithstanding some miracle recovery combined with a Bills’ Super Bowl run.)
The team is already prepping Devin Singletary to be ready for (what they claim) will be the bulk of the carries. There’s also talk that RB T.J. Yeldon, just recently cleared from the IR-C, will be active for Saturday as well.
Besides Moss, only one other player returns with an injury designation, as backup DE Darryl Johnson’s knee kept him from the entire practice week. Though he’s still only listed as questionable, it seems unlikely he’ll be active on Saturday. (Plus, there’s already talk about Trent Murphy, who would take his place, which is also usually a bad sign for availability.)
The other handful of players who did inhabit the divisional-round injury report earlier in the week are all now cleared and ready to go. On offense, wide receivers Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs drew attention for their practice absence. Beasley, the bigger concern, did manage a limited Thursday practice, while Diggs participated in full. Both are ready to go. However, it remains to be seen if Beasley will appear as hindered as he did last week.
On the defense, Buffalo removed the injury designation from a few others. MLB Tremaine Edmunds (hamstring), DT Ed Oliver (ankle) and DT Justin Zimmer (groin) all fully participated in Thursday’s practice and are expected to be fully available.
Finally, kicker Tyler Bass appeared on the list earlier in the week with an injured hand, presumably so we could wonder why a kicker needs his hand. At any rate, Bass’ hand appears to be fine. He practiced in full the last two days and is also clear of the report.
Divisional-Round Injury Report: Leans
Is it too much to ask for a little snow? It’s the playoffs in Buffalo!
There’s some hope anyway, with a forecast of a passing snow shower and temperatures in the low 30s at kickoff. If the system arrives a bit early, with increased snow and winds, it could prove for an interesting second half.
While that’s not expected to have a huge impact on the game, we’d still play the total of 50 to the under and not expect it to be there for much longer before it drops to 49½ or less.
Six-point Baltimore teasers aren’t a bad play, but we’ll still lean to the Buffalo Bills at -2½. The Bills will again have 6,700 fans in attendance and an extra day of preparation. The extra juice isn’t great, but it doesn’t seem like a better price is coming on the NFL point spreads’ board, and we’d expect more Buffalo money as the game approaches.
Keep up-to-date with the latest news for the Baltimore Ravens vs Buffalo Bills divisional playoff game here.