When it comes to handicapping the NFL, no other single factor influences the lines as much as injuries. 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.
So, who’s lining up at the front of the offense for the Raider on Sunday? Dunno. Apparently no one does, as coach John Gruden claimed Friday, “You know, it’s a mystery. We don’t know who’s up at any position. We’re hoping we can find five starters that are healthy and ready to go.”
Gruden overplays the problem here, of course, but the Raiders lost veteran left guard Richie Incognito to the IR with a torn Achilles and veteran backup Trent Brown for at least this week to a bum calf. Add to that Denzelle Good, who would fill in at right tackle, but is questionable and only practiced partially on Friday after missing the entire week.
It doesn’t stop there. Star RB Henry Ruggs showed up with a mid-week knee issue that’s kept him completely out this week. The same goes for starting middle linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (pectoral). Sunday studs RB Josh Jacobs (hip) and TE Darren Waller (knee) are listed as questionable, practicing only in a limited fashion Friday.
Ironically, the highest-profile injury for the Raiders last week — when safety Jonathan Abram demonstrated the effects of colliding with a TV cart at full speed last Monday — is fine and has practiced all week.
The Patriots with some O-line troubles of their own as starting center David Andrews is out with whatever mystery issue afflicted his snapping hand either during or after the last game. He showed up in a case/hand-wrap at practice this week and was a non-participant.
Starting RB James White will miss the game for personal reasons after the tragic car accident involving his parents.
A fistful of other assorted Pats are questionable and were limited throughout the week: wideouts Julian Edelman (knee) and N’Keal Harry (ankle), DT Adam Butler (shoulder), S Kyle Dugger (ankle) and most notably LT Isaiah Wynn (calf). Wynn showed up on the report only Friday and is worth checking to see if he or the others here are game-time scratches.
Certainly expect the Pats to get support based off these final practice reports and for the spread to close at six or higher. Also, expect the under to be the play with the Raiders hampered on offense and the Pats to have their own personnel concerns on that side of the ball too. Check on who New England coach Bill Belichick activates and benches an hour before game time.
Los Angeles Rams (46½) at Buffalo Bills (1½)
RB Darrell Henderson’s over 100 all-purpose yard day softened the blow of losing starter Cam Akers in the first half last week with a rib injury. He’s now ruled out. On the O-line, David Edwards filled in for starting LG Joe Noteboom.
The trio of linebackers, whose absence took the vigor out of the Bills’ defensive front seven, is still not ready to play. OLB Del’Shawn Phillips is ruled out. MLB Tremaine Edmunds (limited) and SLB Matt Milano (full) practiced Friday but are still listed as questionable.
Add to the newly injured starting tight end Dawson Knox, now out with a concussion not reported until mid-week. As well, running back Zack Moss is out with turf toe.
It’s hard to imagine Henderson (or the other halfback Malcolm Brown) repeating last week’s output against the weakened Bills’ defense, so with Akers now scratched there shouldn’t be a rush on taking the Rams as a short dog. But it seems like the Bills got the worst of the injury results this week.
We’d lean under the number and expect it to come down even further. It opened at 48 and has been bet down to 46½.
Houston Texans (45½) at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4½)
The only significant question mark going into Sunday’s game for the Texans is running back Duke Johnson’s availability. Listed as questionable, he might start but be on a pitch count as the backup.
Otherwise, the Texans return to the lineup everyone limited in practice this week. (Though backup wide-out Kenny Stills was held back in practice Frid due to always eye-grabbing reason “Illness.”
Starting wide receiver Will Fuller was used sparingly in the second half of the game Sunday. Whatever held him back didn’t affect his week of practice or status and he’ll start.
Starting right guard David DeCastro will return to the line just in time to stop it from being described using adjectives like “decimated” and “weakened.” The starting right side of the line of Zack Banner and Stefen Wisniewski banged themselves onto the IR in the past two weeks, leaving a significant gap there.
To no one’s surprise, both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson fully practiced on Friday after some concern about their earlier limitations. Both are expected to take their full snap assignment.
Not much in the injury profile suggests the line should be off. Currently at 4½ in favor of the Steelers with a total of 45½ , unless there’s late-breaking pregame developments, we’re not expecting any dramatic line moves here.
Bettors looking to back the Giants benefited from Niners coach Kyle Shanahan blowing smoke earlier in the week about Jimmy Garappolo’s chances of playing through an ankle sprain. He’s now been deemed out, and while the line that opened at -3½, it was bet up to 4½ mid-week and is now back down to the opener.
Backup QB Nick Mullens will get the start, of course, and behind him is the tattered remains of the San Francisco 49ers roster after last week’s injury fiasco. A half dozen primary starters for the Niners, in addition to the quarterback, won’t be playing this week: Both starting running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman have knee injuries that will prevent them at least from playing next week.
DE Nick Bosa and DT Solomon Thomas both blew their ACLs within a minute of each other in the first quarter. DE Dee Ford (back) will miss his second consecutive game. So far vet backup Kerry Hyder and rookie Javon Kinlaw have already been worked into that mix.
Oh, right — George Kittle won’t be back either. Injury dumpster fire.
The loss of starting running back Saquon Barkley begins the ocean of tears for the Giants. They’ll try to patch that void with Dion Lewis and recently signed six-year vet Devonta Freeman.
The Giants also placed starting WR Sterling Shepard on IR. The receiving corps is, put politely, in need.
What can you possibly do with this game? San Francisco faces a unique challenge playing both New York teams on their turf in back-to-back weeks. Their clever plan to camp out in West Virginia to avoid travel and jet lag was positively destroyed by their return home as damaged goods. And now they get a second crack at playing on the new (and now infamous) UBU Speed Series-S5-M turf installed at MetLife Stadium.
A low-scoring affair is already baked into the total at 42, but if you had to make a play on the total here, we’d lean under if only to watch both teams reluctant to go full-tilt on this surface. (Careful, that strategy can also backfire when situationally applied to the defense.)
The Titans made it through the week more or less injury-free. Standout wide receiver A.J. Brown has already been deemed out, so the same offense that played against the Jaguars returns.
Starting corner Jonathan Joseph hurt his leg on Sunday. While he missed practice Thursday, he’s been given no injury designation and will play in full.
Starting outside linebacker Anthony Barr ripped his pectoral against the Colts and ended his season. Compounded to this, starting cornerback Mike Hughes (neck) can’t play. With DE Danielle Hunter (still on IR) and other starting CB Cameron Dantzler on the bench this week, the already anemic Vikings’ pass-rush won’t be having its breakout week.
If the Titans hung 33 on the Jags, we can’t be shocked to see them out do that against these Vikes. They’ve effectively been bought from pick all the way to a pricey -2½, and while we lean that way, it’s likely to be a solid three by kick. Same lean applied to the total, now already bet from an open to 48½ to the current 50. Expect it to go up as well.
Veteran backup Wes Schweitzer played over half the game in the right guard position after Brandon Scherff gouged his knee landing on the IR. Backup tackle Saahdiq Charles will also be out but the O-line still has depth. (Talent is another discussion.)
The Browns come into Sunday with a bunch of questions in their banged-up defense.
Defensive end Adrian Clayborn’s hip kept him from playing past the first quarter last Thursday. As the backup to starter Olivier Vernon, inactive due to abdominal injury, the Browns’ pass rush suffered. This week, Vernon is still out and Clayborn isn’t looking much better. He’s listed questionable but practiced only limited for the first time Friday.
Another reason to check who’s active for the Browns Sunday morning is the status of CB Denzel Ward, who injured his groin mid-week, was limited Thursday and held out Friday. They’re already without their other starter Greedy Williams.
That dinged-up Washington Football Team’s O-line they’re facing off against will be thankful.
If the Browns are without Ward and Clayborn on Sunday we’d jump on taking the touchdown with Washington. (Wouldn’t expect it to be available long after it’s announced though.) Don’t expect much change on the total, which at 45 seems like a pass.
Bengals’ starting tight end C.J. Uzomah tore his Achilles Thursday against Cleveland and is done for this year. While Drew Sample is a near equivalent, it hurts their position depth.
The Eagles’ top loss of the week on offense is starting receiver Jalen Reagor (thumb) who won’t go this week.
Matt Pryor played the final two-thirds of Sunday’s game when starting left guard Isaac Seumalo popped his knee and ended his 2020 season. Good news is Lane Johnson returned from an injury and played all but two snaps of the entire game. Bad news, the Eagles only have seven offensive linemen.
Starting DT Fletcher Cox is a game-time decision.
Based on an injury adjustment, it’s pretty clear the Bengals are the team who lost the least over the course of the last week. Accordingly, they’ve moved from 5½-point dogs to 4½, while the total has gone up 1½. We’d lean more towards taking the over 47½ than hoping for the Bengals to keep it within margin.
The Bears’ single new injury this week involves starting DT John Jenkins who broke his thumb. Or maybe he lost it. Either way, he’s on IR and Chicago has a noticeable lack of meat in the middle on the front D-line.
The Falcons placed their dignity on Injured Reserve following the special-teams’ play that ultimately cost them last week’s game. Their dignity will miss at least three weeks while other teams review the rules and procedures of the on-side kick.
Joining the team’s dignity in not playing in Week 3 is starting safety Ricardo Allen who smashed his elbow in last week’s game. Also, it was reported Saturday DB A.J. Terrell is out after a positive Covid-19 test.
Listed under game-time decisions are a number of important players: WR Julio Jones (hamstring) who didn’t practice all week; backup DE Takk McKinley (groin) didn’t practice either; starting right tackle Kaleb McGary thought to be out for certain is now listed (kind of laughably) questionable after seeing limited practice Friday. Toss on LB Foye Olukon and his hammy, listed questionable and limited in practice as well.
Bears’ special teams coach Chris Tabor should start every kicking play off in an on-side formation just to torment the Falcons.
Obviously an injury-based lean here would be in favor of the Bears, and not unexpectedly bettors took the points with Chicago before the final injury reports. A flat three is the line for the underdog Bears, we’d lean that way but would prefer to take 3½. (No expectation that number will be back.)
We’re not sure what to do with this total and apparently, bettors aren’t either. It’s bounced from 48 to 46 and now sits at 47. This is the kind of game where the defense is likely to dictate at least the Bears’ game plan and could end in a 13-10 or 38-27 final, one or the other.
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.
If the Jets looked questionable on offense the past two weeks, imagine what they’ll look like now that their two starting wideouts will be replaced by special-teams fill-ins. Already down Jamison Crowder, the Jets also lost Breshad Perriman to an ankle injury. (Draft trade acquisition Denzel Mims has yet to get healthy enough to get on the field.)
But that’s not all: starting CB Quincy Wilson (concussion) and S Ashtyn Davis (groin) have been ruled out.
And the cherry atop the Jets’ injury sundae: starting right tackle George Fant won’t play. On the O-line, Josh Andrews took over last week for Connor McGovern who couldn’t finish the game. By our count, the Jets will be dressing six linemen.
Starting wideout Parris Campbell hurt his PCL badly enough to be escorted off the field on a cart Sunday. He’s now on IR.
Joining him is free safety Malik Hooker, who ripped his Achilles and is done for the year. This will give Julian Blackmon more snaps. Teams who aren’t the Jets will be happy to capitalize on when they meet.
MLB Matt Adams dinged his ankle and is out for a few weeks now. Finally, CB Rock Ya-Sin has still not rehabbed into action this season
While the Colts took some shots to their roster last week, the disparity between the teams is already priced into the odds. Two weeks ago, the look-ahead line for this game was a touchdown, and that got bet up past the -10 range right around the time the Niners curb-stomped the Jets on their “crappy” field. We didn’t expect this number to do anything but float towards -13½ and so far that’s what’s happened. Still leaning towards the favorite here at anything -12½ or better.
The total of 44 has stayed put throughout the week. We leaned over earlier, but don’t have any motivation to change that based on this injury profile.
Maybe it’s a side effect of the popularity of fantasy football, but when Christian McCaffrey went down with a high-ankle sprain you’d have thought the rest of the entire team had jumped onto his funeral pyre. Losses of players like McCaffrey push betting enthusiasts into having discussions about how many points a non-quarterback is worth.
While the loss is substantive, it is their only notable injury, the possible exception being starting left tackle Russell Okung who was limited this week, but practiced fully on Friday and is expected to play.
It’s all fun and games until you puncture your quarterback. The Chargers’ attempt to inject starter Tyrod Taylor with superpowers backfired on them Sunday when his body rejected the serum. He was benched in place of rookie Justin Herbert and the whole thing was covered up with some unthinkably horrible story where the doctors poked his lung or something.
Now, of course, puncturing your quarterback is no laughing matter, but the reality is that Taylor will be out at least long enough to show the world why it was premature to crown Herbert as the team’s new starter under center. Herbert had a respectable showing, common to junior quarterbacks who are told they’ll be starting their first professional game in minutes. Panthers’ defensive coordinator Phil Snow busily spent his week watching Oregon college tape.
On the defense, they’ll be without DE Melvin Ingram (knee) and backup DT Justin Jones (shoulder). Starting safety Rayshawn Jenkins reported an in-game injury in the third quarter; he was limited this week and listed as questionable, but should play.
What a mess. We’re of the opinion that high-profile injuries like McCaffrey’s can be overplayed when they eat up all the oxygen in popular media. We’re also biased against quarterbacks making their first scheduled start after being pressed into emergency service the previous week.
We’d lean +6½ but liked it better earlier in the week at a full touchdown. As for the total, we leaned under 44 and these injury reports don’t change that. It’s come down a half-point.
Word on the street is he’s back! Star WR Kenny Golladay is back to save the Detroit Lions. They’re still the Detroit Lions, of course, but the offense will more than benefit from his return. (Surely his status Sunday morning will be a lead subject for all the talking heads.)
Otherwise, the Lions’ injury bench continues to be stacked with players they’d otherwise love to have healthy and on-field: Desmond Trufant, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Hunter Bryant, and Nick Williams. None are expected to go, though starting DT Williams might get pressed into service if he can to aid the Lions’ poor pass rush.
The Cardinals’ offense didn’t improve this week on the injury front. They lose starting tight end Maxx Williams to IR (though he didn’t play Week 2). Their No. 2 receiver Christian Kirk (groin) has been declared out. And their starting center, Mason Cole, will remain inactive while Lamont Gaillard carries his work.
Two injuries to watch at game time are nickel corner Dre Kirkpatrick and starting DE Jordan Phillips, both limited throughout the week and listed as questionable.
With the announcement of Golladay, you could expect money to come for the Lions. It’s always a little bewildering when sharp bettors run to take the points with the Lions, but it’s expected to happen here again. We liked +6½ and still lean to the six, but it’s coming down.
The total continues to rise as well, up now to 55 from its open of 53½. We still lean over but don’t expect it to climb any further.
The Bucs trade injuries at the wide receiver position this week as Justin Watson (shoulder) will sit, but in his place, Chris Godwin returns from concussion protocol and is expected to start as an upgrade. Otherwise, they return the team they fielded last week.
Thanks to Drew Lock’s severe rotator cuff strain, Broncos’ No. 2 quarterback Jeff Driskel will get to experience a planned NFL start. (See above: Justin Herbert and the Chargers.) He might be pressed into scoring extra points since the Broncos’ defense is aching.
On the IR or otherwise listed out this week are nickel corner Devontae Harris (hamstring), backup DE DeMarcus Walker (calf, IR), and inside linebacker Mark Barron (hamstring, IR), all out.
Driskel will have to create that extra offense despite also likely missing RB Phillip Lindsay who is doubtful due to his toe, having a hampered WR Jerry Jeudy (ribs, questionable), and already lost WR Courtland Sutton to the IR at the end of Week 2.
Lordy, there’s likely gonna be a few times that Bucs’ receiver Mike Evans will be downfield, not a defender within the frame of his camera shot. We’d lean to the Bucs and the over but are surprised to see lines move in the other direction.
We leaned Tampa Bay -6 earlier, so we must really like -5½ with this injury profile. Before the injury reports were final, we leaned under the opener of 43½ but would now consider the over at 42½ considering what that Broncos’ secondary will look like.
Dallas’ game-time decisions left it short starting left tackle Tyron Smith who aggravated a neck injury last week. Already hosting two tackles on Injured Reserve, the Cowboys don’t want to bench Smith, but he didn’t practice all week and though listed as questionable, likely won’t be active at kickoff.
Starting DE pass-rush monster DeMarcus Lawrence didn’t see any action in the second half of Sunday’s game after he hurt his knee. While the Cowboys minimize the injury, Lawrence only practiced in limited fashion on Friday. (His wife was in labor on Wednesday though, so that’s a reason to miss practice too.)
Also gone from action is starting CB Chidobe Awuzie whose hamstring has landed him on the injured reserve list.
Seattle’s defense, now a bit of a shell of the former Legion of Boom days, took another few hits this week. After Quandre Diggs was ejected last game for a helmet hit on N’Keal Harry, free safety Marquise Blair took his assignment and proceeded to blow his ACL. Outside linebacker Bruce Irvin’s ACL nearly survived the entire game, tearing in the fourth quarter.
On top of this, two backup corners, Quinton Dunbar and Neiko Thorpe, struggled through the practice week, sitting out Friday. Unlikely they’d both miss, but their practice schedule was odd, and they should be checked at game time to see if they’re active.
Finally, the team moved starting DE Rasheem Green to the IR due to a mid-week neck injury.
An already sketchy Seattle defense gets to start rookie OLB Jordyn Brooks. We leaned to the Hawks at -5 before all the injury finals. We’re no longer thrilled with that and wouldn’t be surprised to see the +5 come down.
As for the total, there’s only one direction: UP. It was as low as 55 (which in itself is a bit of a ridiculous statement) and got bet up to 57. We can only still lean the over but wonder at what point we’ll see a posted total of 60.
Check an hour or so before kick on the inactives here, because there’s a good chance star WR Davante Adams will be listed there. While his in-game injury was downplayed last week — the Packers did hang four straight touchdowns on the Lions after being down 11 — he didn’t practice all week, is listed as doubtful and no one should expect him to play.
Of concern also for the Pack is their starting left guard Elgton Jenkins showed up on the report Friday after missing practice with a back problem. Some good news, that starting center Corey Linsley sprained his snapping hand thumb in last week’s game but was a full participant this week and will start. (There’s not a ton of depth there.)
Another name to check at game time besides Jenkins is free safety Darnell Savage who was limited Friday and now listed as questionable.
The continued absence of wide-out Michael Thomas will allow people to continue to excuse Drew Brees’ noodle arm. Otherwise, the only new offensive injury to note is to backup RB Ty Montgomery who has been moved to the IR.
Two other names to watch for game-time inactivity are DE Trey Hendrickson (groin) and DT David Onyemata (calf) listed questionable.
We supported the Packers earlier in the week at +3 and still do, expecting that it might come down to 2½ by game time. The total was 51½ when we leaned to the over but the injuries here don’t support wanting to make that same bet at 53. It somehow climbs above 54 we’d play it under, fading the Saints offensive production.