Fallout from Covid-19 outbreak continues, as the NFL scrambles to complete its rescheduled Week 6. That means another Monday-night double header. We break down the injury news and handicap sportsbook lines for both Monday night games.
|Game: Kansas City Chiefs (4-1) vs Buffalo Bills (4-1)
Location: Bills Stadium
Time: 5:00 p.m. ET
Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid had a perfect 3-0 record against the Buffalo Bills in his tenure, until a few years back when the Bills came to town with their new coach Sean McDermott. McDermott’s Bills upset the heavily-favored Chiefs, 16-10. This time, the quarterbacks won’t be Tyrod Taylor and Alex Smith though.
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In a normal week, everyone would be fretting over whether WR Sammy Watkins’ hamstring would keep him out, or limited, or a game-time decision — but this week nobody cares because Kansas City won the Disgruntled Running Back Lottery. Of course, Watkins is ruled out already for the game, and everyone took a moment to learn about how long is required for the team’s new acquisition Le’Veon Bell to pass Covid protocols and be able to play. (Spoiler: Next week.)
Maybe more concerning this week is a surprise injury added to the final practice report. Starting RT Mitchell Schwartz appeared Saturday with a back issue. Though he did practice fully the final day, he hadn’t had any previously listed back problems. Put his name on the list of those to check an hour or so before kick. His absence would stretch thin the Chiefs’ O-line who have already had to replace starting left guard Kelechi Osemele after he blew out both of his knees last Sunday. Backup Mike Remmers is expected to take Osemele’s place. (Also, if Schwartz were in real peril of not playing, it would have likely resulted in some different end-of-week transactions to prepare an emergency O-line player for game day.)
The Bills capped off a week of practice by splashing some starters’ names on their injury report. Tagged with the questionable designation, OLB Matt Milano (pectoral) and CB Tre’Davious White (back) both practiced in full on Friday. Only Milano was limited the following day, but both should be checked to see their game-time status.
Similarly on offense, WR John Brown (knee) had no designation and was practicing in full, but was limited on Saturday and is also now questionable. More notably on offense, lead TE Dawson Knox (calf) has already been scratched.
Some good news for the defense, MLB Tremaine Edmunds (shoulder) had his designation removed and is expected to start.
The Bills seemed like a good underdog earlier in the week, though the steady stream of money that’s come for the Chiefs would disagree with that. The market doesn’t have a lot of respect for Buffalo’s defense, which is fair, and with this injury profile it makes sense why the line has now jumped to a pricey five points in favor of KC.
We picked the Bills at +4, but if it turns out Milano, White and Brown can’t play we couldn’t recommend it even at +5½. The best guess is all three will play, however, in which case we’ll stick with our earlier dangerous lean of the Bills and the under, which also nudged down a half point to 57.
|Game: Arizona Cardinals (3-2) vs Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
Location: AT&T Stadium
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
A long-time NFC rivalry writes another chapter as the teams clash under new coaching staffs. Kliff Kingsbury’s Arizona Cardinals visit Jerry’s World to play Mike McCarthy’s Dallas Cowboys who haven’t travelled in weeks.
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Practice didn’t go well this week for the Cardinals on either side of the ball. Injury to starting RG J.R. Sweezy’s elbow landed him on injured reserve and has shaken the offensive line. His projected replacement, Justin Murray, might be needed elsewhere, as starting left tackle D.J. Humphries reported back spasms at practice on Saturday. It’s imperative to see if he’s active before kickoff, though a practice-squad promotion could occur earlier in the day if Humphries back is aching badly enough to keep him from playing.
On defense, Arizona sent DE Rashard Lawrence (calf) to injured reserve and declared backup OLB Kylie Fitts (hamstring) out. Still smarting from the loss of Chandler Jones at the position, it puts pressure on OLB Devon Kennard (calf) to be able to go. Kennard was limited all week and should also be checked to see his status before game time, but it seems likely he will start. Another name to watch for, and more unclear if he can actually play, is ILB Dennis Gardeck (foot) who worked back to limited practice after missing the first day.
A half dozen Cowboys carried previous injury designations into the week, and all practiced fully with designations removed. In short, everyone on the active Cowboys’ roster is healthy. Now on the other hand, Dallas has a wealthy injured reserve bench that rivals even San Francisco’s.
It’s funny — before the Dak Prescott injury, this game had an early line of Dallas -3½. Under Andy Dalton, the line re-opens with the Cardinals as -2½ favorites. Injuries plague the Cards all week in practice and the market bets the Cowboys back to a pick or slight fave. So how many points is Dak Prescott worth?
We leaned to the Cowboys in the gravy days earlier in the week when they were catching as many as 2½ points. If the Cards are down those two defenders and an O-lineman, we like the Cowboys as high as -1½ and wouldn’t be shocked to see it get there if the inactives break that way. Along those same lines, we liked over 54½ earlier in the week and would still take over 55 particularly if the Cards defenders are scratched.