The final BetUS NFL injury report looks at not only whose playing — which is pretty much everyone for whom painkillers still have any effectiveness — but the shape they’re in to help you through the slew of sports betting options on America’s gambling statutory holiday.
Maybe getting the extra week to stay in their home facility didn’t work out as well as the Chiefs hoped.
On Thursday night, a car accident involving Kansas City outside linebackers coach Britt Reid (son of head coach Andy Reid) sent a 5-year old to the hospital in life-threatening injuries. With the incident under investigation, as the police report cited “a moderate odor of alcoholic beverages”, and Britt Reid currently in hospital, the Chiefs are down an assistant coach and facing scandal on championship eve.
The incident was unbeknownst to the media until after the Chiefs concluded practice for Friday, so the coach hasn’t yet faced scrutiny about the event. The team was scheduled to hold a walkthrough early in the day, and then flew to Florida. Britt Reid won’t be traveling. Reports are he is in the hospital
Two other players who might be traveling are starting left tackle Eric Fisher and backup MLB Willie Gay. They’ve both been declared out, and under normal circumstances have been sent to injured reserve. The Chiefs did announce roster moves on Saturday.
Fisher tore his Achilles’ tendon during the Conference Championship Game and wept openly on the bench knowing his short-term playing time was over. He’s officially been ruled out, and his absence sends the offensive line into another shuffle at the wrong time. Fisher was replacing Mitchell Schwartz, lost to injured reserve months before, and any hope of his return is now nil. Kansas City will be rolling with Mike Remmers and Andrew Wylie.
As for Gay, he’s missed the entire postseason rehabbing from an ankle injury just in time to tear his meniscus last week.
It hasn’t been all doom in the injury and personnel department in Kansas City though, there have been positives during the week. Foremost, RB Le’Veon Bell shed his injury designation and seems to have the swelling in his knee under control. He fully practiced on Friday and should be ready for his handful of carries.
It’s fitting that the only questionable player leading into the Super Bowl is WR Sammy Watkins. Having struggled through the first half of the season as “Hammy” Watkins, he’s spent the playoffs nursing a calf. (And his gastrocnemius is strained too — rimshot.) Coach Reid suggested he should be a go, backed up by his full participation in Friday’s practice.
Also good, WR Demarcus Robinson was cleared on Friday to return to practice. Robinson was one of two players sent to the COVID-IR for a close-contact exposure to the barber who came to the Chiefs’ facility to perform numerous game-week trims when he tested positive. The other player, backup C Daniel Kilgore, was cleared early on Saturday after his final test came back negative.
Plus, CB L’Jarius Sneed cleared concussion protocol earlier in the week, and he’s reported full participation all three days.
Curiously, backup RB Darwin Thompson missed Friday’s practice due to the mysterious and dreaded “illness”, which these days couldn’t be more ambiguous. What’s curious, and encouraging, is Thompson wasn’t given an injury designation — because let’s face it, removing the “probable” description in the NFL was probably a mistake — so he should be fine, or downgraded on Saturday.
Don’t call it a comeback: backup TE Deon Yelder rehabbed his groin enough over the last few weeks to move from injured reserve back to the active roster. From the practice squad, LB Chris Lammons gets the nod to be promoted for game day.
Meanwhile, on the Gulf Coast, the Buccaneers are having a less injury and scandal-filled week — notwithstanding the use of their pirate-ship cannon during the game, denied by league rules.
The biggest news was Tampa Bay hanging a questionable designation on WR Antonio Brown. Brown’s knee swelling had apparently responded acceptably to his increased midweek workload. But after Friday’s practice, in which he also fully participated, he was listed as questionable. It seems to be little more than head games, as Brown should be as near to full strength as needed.
More concerning, TE Cameron Brate, the only other player listed questionable, missed Friday’s practice altogether. Brate was added to the injury report on Thursday, and it’s suggested his Friday absence was rest (as opposed to a setback). It’s also said he should be active but remains to be seen if it will impact his performance.
Otherwise, it’s all good news Bucs with a few defenders coming good on their earlier commitments to be suited up come Sunday. Most importantly, the pair of safeties Antoine Winfield (ankle) and Jordan Whitehead (shoulder) both returned to full participation on Friday and are no longer listed as questionable. The same goes for ILB Lavonte David (hamstring). Whitehead’s recovery here is remarkable, though.
Also still without an injury designation, DE Jason Pierre-Paul reportedly did not participate in Friday’s practice. Considering his activity on Thursday after supposed to resting, his time off is his unique pattern of veteran rest. (Maybe they hid his shoes.) We’d consider backing him to get a sack on Sunday.
The line opened at three with juice on the favorite, and before the morning after Championship Sunday, it moved to 3½ juiced in the other direction. After some heavy opening betting, the point spread settled to its current number. During the past week, enough money came in on the Buccaneers to move the moneyline about a nickel.
The total opened at a lofty 57½ but shed a couple of half points during the first week and now sits at 56½.
We’re backing the Kansas City Chiefs in this one but hate the point spread with the hook. In fact, even getting Ev odds with the Chiefs at a field goal is a bad price, so much so that we’d lean to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at +3½ -120 and also play the Kansas City Chiefs on the moneyline at -160. (Simplified, if you play $90 on the Bucs +3½ -120 and $100 on the Chiefs moneyline, you risk about $35 to profit over $130 if the Chiefs win by a field goal or less.)
Based on how we believe the game will play out, we’re expecting Tampa Bay to do everything they can to shut down Tyreek Hill and then deal with the rest of the offensive onslaught. That could lead to the Chiefs carving up the Bucs with a bunch of short passing as they’ve done in the past. (That said, the line of over 42½ completions juiced at -135 is a stretch and we wouldn’t play it at that price.) But fading Hill is worth consideration, and we’d play Tyreek Hill total receptions under 7½ -125.
Another projection is for the Chiefs to do what’s unexpected in the first half, and (even against some experts’ better judgement) attempt to soften the Bucs’ defensive front seven with Darrell Williams. While he’s not expected to be highly successful, we do expect him to get above the number of expected touches. Play Darrell Williams total rushing attempts over 7½ -115.
A couple of long-shot, dark-horse Most Valuable Player candidates for the Chiefs: On the offense, Mecole Hardman is an intriguing prospect at +7000 if he’s left to roam free by defenders forced to keep Tyreek Hill in check. On the defense, free safety Tyrann Mathieu seems good at +7000, if you can foresee him getting a second interception. (We’re seeing him get one juicy Tom Brady pick at least, so Mathieu to intercept a pass +350 is also going in the pile.)
As for the total — well, you don’t have to play everything — and it doesn’t inspire much in either direction. We lean slightly to under the total of 56½ but would hope (probably in vain) that it would climb up to 57 again.
Happy Super Bowl — may the variance work in your favor on Sunday.
Final Score: Chiefs 27, Buccaneers 24