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 sports betting with the BetUS NFL injury report where we cover every injured player on all the remaining NFL teams to get you up to date on who’s playing and who’s actually too sore to participate in a playoff game.
They got the band back together, nearly.
Last week’s trouncing of the Pittsburgh Steelers by the Bad News Browns was made all the more incredible considering the number of missing coaches and players. The Browns, of course, had a COVID outbreak that exposed as many as a dozen players and a half-dozen coaches. Now, everyone’s back.
Coach Kevin Stefanski returned on Thursday, and with the clearance of assistant O-line coach Scott Peters, their coaching staff is restored in full.
They’re not unaffected by injury from last week’s game though, having brought in backup OG Michael Dunn to fill part of the gap left by LG Joel Bitonio’s absence. Bitonio, one of the marquee names sidelined on the COVID-IR (IR-C), is the final player now activated to return. Dunn, on the other hand, was moved to the injured reserve after sustaining a calf injury in last Sunday’s match. (At the time, Dunn’s injury brought on Blake Hance, so new to the team he’d only met quarterback Baker Mayfield that day.)
As for the rest of the offensive line, most of whom appeared on the injury report at one point this week, they still have one player questionable leading into Sunday. RT Jack Conklin managed only a limited practice on Friday. Coach Stefanski says they’ll monitor him leading up to kickoff and that he is a game-time decision. We’d expect him to play, but does have a tested backup in Kendall Lamm.
Just like last week, RG Wyatt Teller (ankle) and C J.C. Tretter (knee) played through their injuries, and this Friday upgraded to a full practice and ditched their questionable injury designations.
The other two questionable players on offense are both tight ends. David Njoku made it back for a limited Friday practice, so there’s a better chance he’ll play than special-teamer Stephen Carlson. Carlson’s groin injury popped up midweek, taking him from limited practice to none on Thursday.
Activated from the IR-C, WR KhaDarel Hodge (along with Bitonio) represented the last of the players unavailable due to close contact exposure. They’re now restored to full strength in that regard.
On defense, DE Myles Garrett returned to the injury report with a sore shoulder. While he was limited through the week, his injury designation was removed, and he’ll be starting. Similarly, DT Sheldon Richardson (neck) returned to a full Friday practice, and he’s free of injury doubt as well.
The Browns also returned two cornerbacks, Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson, from the IR-C. At the same time, they lost CB Robert Jackson to injured reserve to a hamstring sprain, but it’s still an upgrade.
Finally, the last player listed questionable, LB B.J. Goodson, also managed a limited Friday practice through his shoulder injury. He, along with Conklin and Njoku, are important names to check on the inactives list released an hour or so before kickoff.
Coach Andy Reid’s renowned performances coming off byes will have to do so this time with a few more banged-up players on the roster than might be expected coming off a bye.
Most notably, WR Sammy Watkins missed the season finale and the entirety of the practice week. He’ll no longer be mocked as “Hammy Watkins” since it’s his calf that will cause him to be sidelined this Sunday.
The Chiefs also declared backup MLB Willie Gay (ankle) a pregame scratch. He sustained the injury in the season finale.
Three players carry questionable tags into Sunday, though two of them are on the doubtful side of that designation. Most importantly, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire went from a limited opening practice on his bum ankle, to missing the final two days of the week. Now he’s described as day-to-day (and they’re running out of those). Edwards-Helaire will certainly get media coverage if he’s a game-day scratch, which it’s looking like he will be.
The other two questionable players are backup TE Deon Yelder (groin) who was also downgraded from limited to no practice, and will also likely be sidelined. On the other hand, CB Rashad Fenton (foot) upgraded to limited practice, and will likely want to play despite having soreness in both of his ankles.
Earlier in the week, the Chiefs activated MLB Anthony Hitchens and DE Michael Danna from the IR-C.
Despite a bunch of other market indicators — like a move on the moneyline in support of the Browns — this line remained a steady ten points throughout the entire week. And it’s unclear if it’s going to move from there. No serious money seems like it wants to lay double-digits with the Chiefs, but it might come to pass that support will show up for the Browns by game day.
The total opened at an already high 56 and jumped to 58, before notching back down a half-point to the current 57½.
With no line move to speak of, it seems like no one’s sure what to do with this game and we’re no different. Catching the points here implies the Browns will have to keep up with a postseason Chiefs team that threatens to hang 50 on them. So a slight lean to the Cleveland Browns +10 in the hopes they can play keep up.
The better play (contradicting the common-sense idea of not playing an underdog and an over) would be over the total of 57½, but that number is as high as it’s getting and we’d much rather have it a half or full point lower. Not sure if it will get there, but worth waiting until game day.
Considering they were emerging from what was supposed to be a physical game against the Washington Football Team, the Buccaneers fared well enough injury-wise.
Playing through a knee contusion that could have kept him inactive, WR Mike Evans looked good for someone listed questionable the previous week. Though listed as only a limited participant through the practice week, he’s once again cleared to start Sunday, this time with no questionable tag.
Several other players also shed their injury designation at the end of the week as well. WR Chris Godwin (hip) rested on Friday and CB Carlton Davis (groin) returned to full practice, and both are cleared from the injury list. Same for DE Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) who didn’t even participate this week.
The only real question mark for Tampa Bay coming into Sunday is the status of RB Ronald Jones’ quadriceps. He was a surprising game-day scratch last Sunday, and was limited through the last two days of this week’s practice. Coach Brice Arians already named Leonard Fournette the starter for the game and declared Jones a game-time decision. We’d be surprised to see him inactive again, but he’s certainly worth checking on NFL news channels come game day. For depth, RB LeSean McCoy is back after missing the last couple of weeks.
Tampa Bay also activated ILB Devin White and DT Steve McLendon from the IR-C after they were kept away last game. Curiously, just a few hours after the move, they placed White’s replacement, ILB Kevin Minter, on the list. White’s return will be an upgrade.
In just plain bad news, RG Alex Cappa fractured his ankle last Saturday. Aaron Stinnie has been named his replacement and Cappa has been shuffled off to injured reserve. Backup DL Jeremiah Ledbetter (calf) is deemed out for a second week. S Jordan Whitehead popped up on the injury report with a knee issue that kept him limited on Friday. And special-teams’ S Andrew Adams was absent the last two days of practice for undisclosed reasons.
Even though they’d missed winning a first-round bye, things were shaping up so nicely for the Saints with regard to injuries, having played last week. But before they could put a bow on a successful practice week, another COVID exposure panic hit their facility on Friday.
This time, backup center Will Clapp tested positive. Interrupting practice, a round of tests and contact tracing have (so far) cleared everyone else on the team. But now they await the results of their daily tests with extra anxiety.
Fingers crossed because the Saints otherwise cleared a number of hurdles to return in good shape. DE Trey Hendrickson rehabbed the neck stinger that sidelined him last Sunday. He put in a full Friday practice and dropped his questionable tag. The same applies to TE Jared Cook (back) and LT Terron Armstead (elbow), both clear of the report.
One key name to look for on the inactive list is RB Latavius Murray who sustained a quadriceps injury last game. He managed only a limited Friday practice and is listed questionable. It’s likely he’ll generate game-day news about his status.
The other name to check is flex QB Taysom Hill who banged his knee last week. He too only participated in limited practice on Friday, and it’s unclear how much he’ll play. We’ll speculate he’s going to be active, but will also generate news about his status well before the inactives’ list is released.
New Orleans deemed backup CB Patrick Robinson an early scratch. Conversely, they activated S D.J. Swearinger from the IR-C after he missed last week. Earlier in the week the team shut RG Nick Easton down after he failed to clear concussion protocol, and he’s been moved to the injured reserve.
Another game with not much to speak of for line movement. The Saints opened as field-goal favorites and only the juice on the number has moved. Even then, it’s only slightly juiced to New Orleans. The total opened at 51½, notched down a half-point before steadily moving back up to the current 52½.
If this line does move off the three, it seems like a reasonable guess it would do so if the injury game-time reports break poorly for one of the teams. Just speculating, we’d give that edge to the home team and lean to the New Orleans Saints -3.
A couple of key defenders are back on both sides, and the total is already floated to what we’ll guess is its high watermark. Play under the total of 52½.