After a season unlike any other, we’re finally closing in on the finish line. No surprise, two of the teams that remained healthy all season will be playing for the Lombardi Trophy two weeks from now in Tampa. Both the Chiefs and Buccaneers have had a tremendous amount of injury luck all season, but there are still some lingering issues that could impact Super Bowl LV.
Here’s a breakdown of all the injury storylines that could affect the final game of 2020:
Kansas City Chiefs
The biggest loss of the weekend was Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher. Fisher tore his Achilles in the second half of Sunday’s game and will miss the Super Bowl. Fisher allowed just three sacks all season and his 80.8 grade on Pro Football Focus ranked 18th among all tackles. When Fisher rested in Week 17, Martinas Rankin started at left tackle and allowed a sack.
Rankin also started in place of Fisher for five games in 2019, but Andy Reid opted to move Mike Remmers to left tackle from right tackle on Sunday. Andrew Wylie shifted over from right guard to replace Remmers and Stefen Wisniewski came off the bench to play right guard. The Chiefs allowed a single sack against the Bills, but PFF credits that sack to Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs will probably use the same offensive line in the Super Bowl, especially since Reid told reporters he doesn’t expect Mitchell Schwartz to be activated off the IR prior to the game.
There is some good news in Kansas City as RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Sammy Watkins are both expected to be ready by next Sunday. Both guys were game-time decisions prior to the Conference Championship and barring a setback, they should be ready to participate in next week’s practices. Darrel Williams has been the Chiefs’ top running back in the postseason, carrying the ball 26 times for 130 yards. Byron Pringle has been taking Watkins’s snaps the last few weeks and has caught nine passes for 88 yards.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Safety Jordan Whitehead forced a pair of fumbles before bowing out of Sunday’s game due to a shoulder injury. According to Ian Rapoport, Whitehead is dealing with a labrum issue and hasn’t been ruled out of the Super Bowl just yet. Fellow safety Antione Winfield Jr. was out on Sunday after injuring his ankle late in the week. Winfield was scratched after his ankle didn’t feel great in pre-game warmups. However, he is expected to play in the Super Bowl.
Mike Edwards started in Winfield’s place against the Packers and could fill in for Whitehead if he is unable to go against the Chiefs. The former third-round pick played a season-high 71 snaps in Green Bay and allowed just one completion on four targets, albeit an eight-yard touchdown. Andrew Adams filled in for Whitehead on Sunday and played 36 snaps, earning a defensive grade of 65.2 from PFF for his efforts.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown did not play against the Packers due to a knee injury he suffered in the Divisional Round. In Brown’s absence, Scotty Miller played in the slot, catching a 39-yard touchdown. The Buccaneers do expect Brown to be ready to go for the Super Bowl after two weeks to prepare.
Tampa did get some good news in the Conference Championship with the return of Vita Vea. After missing 14 weeks with a fractured leg, Vea returned, played 33 snaps, and recorded a pair of quarterback pressures. Expect his role to increase against Kansas City as he works his way back to being fully healthy.