The Week 6 NFL injury handicapping report covers what you need to know about this Sunday’s injuries — from Covid-19 scares to decimated secondaries. Pore over our injury news to find out who should and shouldn’t be able to suit up on Sunday before making your final wagers at the sportsbook.
The Chicago Bears lost their starting left guard James Daniels about halfway through last Sunday’s game. Now, his replacement, Alex Bars, showed up midweek on the injury report listed as questionable with a shoulder. We’re expecting him to play, otherwise the Bears’ O-line will have serious issues.
Other injuries from last week concern only some defensive backups. S Sherrick McManis (hamstring) worked back to full practice this week, though listed questionable, he should play, particularly since another backup safety Deon Bush has already been ruled out. The status of backup DE Brent Urban is unclear after his practice was limited.
Last week left the Panthers damaged on defense. Foremost, shoulder surgery put an end to DT Kawann Short’s season. Fortunately, DE Brian Burns worked back to playing shape in practice this week. His additional loss would have compounded a shortage for Carolina’s defensive front who will also be without backup DE Yetur Gross-Matos (ankle-IR) for the rest of the season. Eyes on backup DT Zach Kerr (toe) listed as questionable and limited this week in practice.
In the secondary, both starting corners are listed questionable. Donte Jackson (toe) was limited all week, while Eli Apple (hamstring) stands a better chance of playing, having practiced in full Thursday and Friday.
On the other side of the ball, starting WR Curtis Samuel was limited with a knee all week and listed questionable, but is expected to play.
The injury profile here lines up with the line move which had money come for the Bears, who opened +3. We’ll stick with our pick of Chicago +1½. Earlier in the week, we also leaned towards the under but would instead pass with the shortcomings on defense. If it fell under 44 it would be worth considering the over.
Coming off a bye week, starting CB Desmond Trufant won’t be playing, deemed out with a hamstring.
Names to watch for on the game-time inactive list include starting center Frank Ragnow who struggled through some of the week’s practice with a groin strain. His status is unclear and his loss would be noticed. More likely to play, but still questionable, is S C.J. Moore (calf) after working back to full practice on Friday.
After struggling with a concussion the entire season, the team placed TE Hunter Bryant on injured reserve.
The good news for the Jaguars won’t offset the bad, but LB Myles Jack will be back this week. The defense struggled in not only his absence but compounded with that of DE Josh Allen (knee). Allen’s chances to play turned for the worse when, after being limited all week, he missed practice on Friday. Add to their concern, WLB Dakota Allen who missed most of the week, deemed questionable with a foot and could only practice in a limited fashion on Friday.
More problematic for the Jags is the potential loss of their star wide receiver D.J. Chark, kept from practice nearly the whole week with a bum ankle. He had limited reps on Friday, but we’d expect the team to try him on Sunday, and make his the top name to watch among Jacksonville inactives.
Also banged up is TE Tyler Eifert whose neck kept him from all but limited last-day practice, and seems more than possible he’ll be scratched.
It would appear D.J. Chark won’t be suiting up, and we’ll play the Lions -3 with that as a good part of the reason. While it would be helpful to see that he is inactive, we’d expect the line to climb to -3½ by then. (It would be good to know if Frank Ragnow is also active for the Lions.) We leaned to the over 54½ based on the defensive injuries, but the number is a little high to recommend playing it with these two teams.
If there’s a silver lining to the false-positive Covid-19 scare that shut down the Atlanta Falcons’ facility on Thursday, it’s that the media took some time off from harping on their winless record. Earlier reports exaggerated four positive tests among staff (which later turned out to be false positives) but the Falcons did lose one player earlier in the week, special-teams DT Marlon Davidson, to the Covid-IR.
Already hurting on defense, particularly in the secondary, the Atlanta Falcons won’t be seeing S Jaylinn Hawkins this week as he remains out with a concussion. Also scratched is DE Takk McKinley, who played through a groin injury last game, maybe prematurely. One name to monitor before kick off is DE John Cominsky who was fine until missing Friday with the always ambiguous “illness”.
After not practicing all week, WR Julio Jones trotted out for limited practice before the team removed his injury designation. It’s fortunate Jones has been designated to play (instead of a game-time decision) because we don’t have to guess how much he’ll be over-valued; it will already be priced into the odds.
We covered Dalvin Cook likely not being available this week on Tuesday, and he’s been deemed out. (The designation is likely precautionary as the VIkings have a bye next week.)
Troubling for Minnesota is their O-line, where former starting right guard Dru Samia has been benched for a wrist injury. Coach Mike Zimmer wasn’t forthcoming when asked about Samia’s sudden ailment. Look for rookie Ezra Cleveland to get the starting snaps in only his fifth professional game.
Hopes for a boost to their weakened secondary don’t look good, Staring CB Holton Hill (foot) didn’t practice all week and is listed as doubtful. Check his status at game time, but we’ll assume he’ll be scratched.
Before the lines for this game were released, we hoped to take the Falcons for at least +4½. After some injury news developed over the earlier part of the week, that pick changed to Vikings -4. Now both seem bad. But we’ll stick with Minnesota -4 for the sake of a pick. The same can be said of the total, on which we flipped on the over-under 54 before the practice reports and after. Still sticking with a lean of under but don’t like it as much with these injuries.
The Texans’ return everyone who took the field last week. The team did place ILB Benardrick McKinney (shoulder) on IR.
Four of last week’s inactive players have worked back to limited practice this week, and while still listed as questionable, stand a chance of seeing the field Sunday and should be checked on the inactive list. On offense are TE Jordan Akins and RB Buddy Howell; on defense are CB Cornell Armstrong and LB Peter Kalambayi.
Given their five-day preparation week and only two days of practice, the outlook for the Titans is trending upward. A handful of players have come off the Covid-19 injured-reserve list, most notably DE Jeffery Simmons. The team placed backup RB Darrynton Evans (hamstring) on IR to make a roster spot for Simmons.
The only other questionable player is backup NT DaQuan Jones, unlikely to play having missed practice all week.
The play earlier was Titans -3 but with the line moving to -3½ that turns into a lean. We’d still take the Titans and their returning players off a very short week, but would consider the moneyline value over laying the field goal and the hook. On the total, we played over 53 and still like that number.
The knee injury sustained by LB Cole Holcomb that sidelined him for over a month is now over. At least, his injury designation has been lifted and it’s expected he’ll play Sunday. Another long-injured player, CB Greg Stroman (foot), was moved to the IR.
The team listed backup OG Joshua Garnett as out, a non-Covid illness having kept him from practice during the week. With backup tackle David Sharpe scratched due to a late-week illness, Washington hopes they won’t have to make two simultaneous substitutions on their O-line Sunday. (Center Chase Roullier is off the injury list, at least.)
Done for the season is OLB Lorenzo Carter who ruptured his Achilles in last Sunday’s game. To their credit, LB Kyler Fackrell had his injury designation removed last week and it’s believed they will return LB David Mayo who hasn’t seen game action since meniscus surgery last year.
His injury designation removed, S Jabrill Peppers should also return to action having missed last week.
Two players who should be active Sunday but are worth checking due to their questionable status and limited practice are starting WR Darius Slayton and backup NT Dexter Lawrence.
We liked the Giants at -2½ earlier in the week and the injury profile here agrees with that. So much so the line has crept up to -3 with reduced juice. We still lean that way but would want it before it gets more expensive or (worse) gets to a cheap -3½. We leaned under 43 and also still have confidence in it with the Giants’ hopefully improved defense.
No, Cleveland — you’re supposed to be banged up after you play the Steelers, not before!
The Browns’ practice week was filled with surprises, with everyone from the quarterback to the punter showing up injured. The high-profile names include QB Baker Mayfield, WR Odell Beckham, and WR Jarvis Landry, all three listed questionable and limited in practice (or in Beckham’s case, didn’t practice at all). Mayfield and Landry should play, but Beckham is a bit more of a question mark.
That’s almost the good news. The bad news is the Browns still have several players listed as out for the game. There’s RG Wyatt Teller, S Ronnie Harrison and OLB Jacob Phillips who played last week, and S Karl Joseph who didn’t.
A couple of questionables might be able to step up despite being limited throughout the week. DE Olivier Vernon (who was active last game) and DT Larry Ogunjobi (who wasn’t) should be checked if they’re on the game-time inactives.
Relatively speaking, the Steelers return healthy after last week with two notable exceptions, both starters who the team have deemed out.
RG David DeCastro won’t be able to play. (Kevin Dotson will get his start, but the Steelers are dangerously thin at O-line.) Also, WR Diontae Johnson will be sidelined with back spasms.
When the line on this game opened at +3 we were thrilled to take the points with the Browns and considered them a live dog. This many injuries is the tipping point though, and the number has climbed to +3½ and we’d pass on it now. (If forced to make a play, we’d lay the points with the Steelers now.) Our earlier play of under 51 carries the same warning.
Last week Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh tossed a dozen players onto the injury report as questionable, and we set the total of players actually inactive at 2½. (The total came to two, by the way. Those of you who took the under, please collect your winnings.)
And he’s at it again. This week, a half dozen players who were active last game show up as questionable. We’d fully expect the four of them who practiced mostly in full to play: WR Miles Boykin, CB Jimmy Smith, CB Marcus Peters and LT Ronnie Stanley.
The two players in real peril of not playing are FS/LB Anthony Levine and DE Derek Wolfe, neither of whom practiced this week.
To their advantage, two questionables might be returning to playing shape in WR Chris Moore and RG Tyre Phillips. Checking game-time inactives is always a good idea, specifically in this case for the last four names listed.
The Philadelphia Eagles looked to be a strong candidate for a surprise upset of the Ravens this upcoming Sunday. Then, practice happened.
Any hope that either starting wide receiver might return this Sunday was dashed, as both DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery have been deemed out (yet did limited practice all week).
Just as bad, the right side of their O-line collapsed sometime midweek. Starting tackle Lane Johnson is out with being an old guy who didn’t sign up for this. But that didn’t fit on the injury sheet, so they called it an ankle injury. And starting guard Matt Pryor had close enough contact with someone outside the organization who tested positive for Covid, and now he’s on the Covid-IR list too.
The only question mark for Philadelphia is CB Darius Slay who should play having worked back to full practice by the end of week.
When this game first opened the Eagles seemed like a sneaky pick not only to cover but possibly threaten to win outright and put a scare into the Ravens. Now they don’t have much of an O-line, fewer receivers and little hope of covering. Needless to say, the Baltimore line has now climbed to -10. That’s too high to play but is now the only way we’d lean. Same can be said for the toal, which we picked over 47½ and now would prefer under, even at 46½.
The Bengals lost DE Sam Hubbard to an elbow injury and DT D.J. Reader to a quadriceps injury that’s taken them to the IR. Defensively, they might (finally) see the return of CB Mackensie Alexander who hasn’t been in action since September.
Backup wideout Auden Tate (shoulder) is listed as doubtful and he likely will not play, though was limited at the end of the week.
A false-positive Covid scare sent the Colts scurrying from their facility on Friday. Once the personnel were retested (and came back negative) the all clear was sounded.
The most notable loss for the Colts this week is WR Mo Alie-Cox deemed out with a banged knee. Backup guard Chaz Green is also ruled out. Although not listed out (or even doubtful) but are still unlikely to play are DE Justin Houston (hip) and RB Jordan Wilkins (calf).
On a positive note, Indianapolis is likely to return starting left tackle Anthony Costonzo and DT Denico Autry after both returned to full practice by the end of the week.
Even without the confirmed injuries, we leaned to the Bengals with the points. We’d be more enthusiastic about the play considering the injuries, but it’s still the Bengals. We’re likely to need every one of the eight points. The earlier lean of under 46½ now seems more appealing.
Headlining the dumpster fire that is the Denver Broncos coming off a bye this week, questions surrounding QB Drew Lock and his availability on Sunday were overshadowed by RB Melvin Gordon who showed up on Monday arrested for DUI. On Sunday, Lock will likely get all the quarterback snaps (or he gets benched) and Gordon won’t be dressed. Neither of those developments will help the Broncos win.
Also deemed out before game day is WR K.J. Hamler (hamstring) and LB Jeremiah Attaochu (quadriceps). Attacochu didn’t play last Sunday. Hamlet did, but it didn’t make a difference.
Expect to see TE Noah Fant (ankle) and NT Mike Purcell (knee), though listed questionable they were limited in late-week practice.
Considering the mandated reschedule of their bye, the Patriots must not be thrilled with losing players to the Covid-IR as they return from their break. Out at least this week is center James Ferentz for that reason. Pay attention to the other two O-line players on the injury report, starting LT Isaiah Wynn (who was active last week) and RG Shaq Mason (who wasn’t).
The Patriots are placing RB Sony Michel, G Shaq Mason and DE Derek Rivers all on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, per source.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 17, 2020
The Broncos were a mess. Now they’re an injured mess. Even after 17 days of preparation for this game by the Broncos, we’ll side with Bill Belichick’s 13-day prep period. That said, -10 is a huge overlay but would want about 14½ before backing Denver in this spot. We played the total under 45 and still like that number.
Sometimes a team is in such a state that the roster injuries seem secondary to bigger personnel issues. Meet the Jets, where the headline story in the league this week was the star wide receiver Le’Veon Bell whose release was heralded as though he’d escaped from North Korea.
Among those who didn’t escape (yet) are a few who won’t play, the most publicized being QB Sam Darnold. He’ll take another week to heal his AC joint, while Joe Flacco gets some more first-hand evidence about how Joe Flacco may not still be in his prime playing life cycle anymore.
Besides the quarterback issues, disgruntled star skill players, and the hourly need to check and see if they fired the coach, things went well in Jets’ practice this week. A couple of players who started last week should have worked their way into returning: Tackle Mekhi Becton and WR Breshad Perriman. The Jets may also return a number of players out previous weeks: LG Alex Lewis and DE Quinnen Williams.
A small loss to the IR but one nevertheless in DT Davon Godchaux. But the Dolphins might get back DE Shaq Lawson (who was also thought to possibly be returning last week) and LB Kyle Van Noy (who did play last game but still listed questionable).
Also, TE Durham Smythe could also possibly return from injury this week. Worth checking on any of them an hour or so before kickoff to see their status.
Just because we’re taking the points with the Jets doesn’t mean you can make us watch the game. Owing to a number of starters who will return from injury — and maybe they’d like to make their own case for free agency or put together their own highlight reels — we’re taking the points with the Jets (and watching the Packers-Bucs instead). We also picked under 45 here and have no issues with it after the injuries have finalized.
Green Bay lost its depth running back and kick returner Tyler Ervin (wrist). He’s deemed out.
Three defensive players should be checked if they’re present on the inactives list. They have all limited practice and are listed questionable (though we’d expect them to play): DE Montravius Adams, CB Kevin King and LB Za’Darius Smith.
The Pack might also get LB Rashan Gary back after he missed the previous week with an ankle injury.
For their part, the Bucs come into this clash relatively healthy compared to last week. The main issue is with RB Leonard Fournette (ankle) who is questionable. Unless there’s some game-time set back, he can be expected to try to play but it’s unclear how effective he can be.
Two players to watch on the inactives list are CB Carlton Davis and DE Khalil Davis. The first Davis played last Thursday and has struggled through practice with an abdominal injury. The other Davis did the same with an ankle. Expect both to play.
Even after the injury shake out, we still like the Packers to win straight up. Less so for the total of 55, for which we earlier leaned over. We’d still lean that way, but if we could only make one play it would be on the Packers to take last week’s defensive playbook on how to make Tom Brady uncomfortable and go from there.