When it comes to handicapping the NFL, no other single factor influences the lines as much as injuries. Like no other year before it — no OTAs, virtual training caps, and a canceled preseason — widespread roster changes centerpiece the 2020 season. Before making your bets at the sportsbook, always check the latest player updates for injury news. Knowing who’s on the field and who’s on the bench makes the difference between winning and losing.
|Game: Kansas City Chiefs vs Baltimore Ravens
Location: M&T Bank Stadium
Time: 8:15 p.m.
Fans of the NFL are well aware the league chooses its prime-time TV scheduling with the help of a blind squirrel. Witness Thursday night’s offering of the Jets playing host to the Broncos if you’re unconvinced. But Monday, the squirrel found the tastiest of nuts — the most elite teams in the league, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens face off.
Ravens and Chiefs fans are convinced that this is, in fact, a preview of the AFC Championship Game. Whoever wins will be crowned presumptive Super Bowl favorite and whoever loses will get three months of anxiety until the revenge game.
Here’s your injury brief on what to know when the teams declare their inactive players, roughly 90 minutes before kickoff.
|Team||Point Spread||Moneyline||Over/Under||Team Total|
A couple of Chiefs’ starters are still missing after last week and a couple more join them:
Stand-out wide receiver Sammy Watkins headlines the group. He’s still under the team’s concussion protocol after getting popped last Sunday by Chargers’ LB Daniel Perryman. Held back early in the week, he practiced fully on Saturday. Officially listed as questionable, we expect he’ll be active.
Starting corner Charvarius Ward fractured his hand in Week 1. After surgery, he’s been limited in practice wearing a hand-cast, though not out of the question, he is not expected to make his return against the Ravens. Rashad Fenton, a downgrade at that position, filled most of Ward’s snaps.
Kansas City is still short of the talents of starting defensive end Alex Okafor (he’ll be out), and might also be missing special-teams stalwart and defensive fill-in Dorian O’Daniel (he’s questionable).
Poor Tavon Young is done for the year. The Ravens’ nickel corner tore his ACL breaking up a pass to Randall Cobb five minutes into last week’s game. In the offseason, Young became the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL despite missing the entirety of 2019 with a neck injury and all of 2017 with another torn ACL. (Have to assume it was the other one.)
The Ravens have two defensive players listed as questionable: Free safety Anthony Levine started rotating into some snaps last week but has been limited due to an abdomen injury. Justin Madubuike might see his first action of the season, rehabbing from a knee injury. Worth checking at game time to see if they’re pressed into action in Young’s absence.
Other than a couple of insignificant injuries on the offensive side of the ball, this will be the same roster that dominated their first two games.
Before last week’s games were played, this matchup was lined closer to a pick than a field goal. By the time the Ravens put their finishing touches on the Texans last week, they’d won their first two games by a combined 71-22 score, were the toast of the league, and this line got bet up to three and beyond.
We leaned -3 earlier in the week, and while the number has bounced back and forth between 3 and 3½, we’ll stick with Baltimore as the field-goal chalk. If Levine and Madubuike are able to go, and Watkins is not, we’d advise playing -3 right away expecting it to be bet back up to 3½ before kick.
Same goes for the total, which was bet up from an open of 52 and has bounced between 54 and 55. We leaned over 53½ earlier in the week, but that number is likely gone for good. The current 54½ might get bumped to 55 close to kick. In that case, if Watkins is benched and the Ravens activate those defenders, we’d have to hold our nose and lean to the under 55.