It took 19 weeks of football, but we are finally down to just four team vying for the Lombardi Trophy.
This weekend’s action saw a number of high-profile injuries, including a pair of concussions sustained by the NFL’s previous two MVPs. Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of how these injuries could affect the upcoming conference championships:
The Bills are probably the healthiest team heading into Championship Weekend. Special teams standout Darryl Johnson was inactive against Baltimore with a knee injury, but he was designated at “questionable” prior to the game and will probably remain limited in practice this week. Johnson is fourth on the team in special teams snaps and third in special teams tackles.
Rookie running back Zack Moss was placed on IR with an ankle injury prior to Saturday’s game and will be out for the rest of the postseason. The Bills rushed for a season-low 32 yards against the Ravens, with Devin Singletary and T.J. Yeldon combining for just nine carries. The Chiefs allowed 4.5 yards per carry this season, but held the duo of Singletary and Moss to just 42 yards on 15 carries when the teams met earlier this season.
Green Bay Packers
Linebacker Krys Barnes suffered a broken thumb in the first quarter of Sunday’s game, but returned later in the half and played the remainder of the game with a club on his hand. Barnes has the 11th-worst defensive grade among linebackers on Pro Football Focus (min. 400 snaps) and his companion, LB Christian Kirksey isn’t much better. Barnes should be fully available on Sunday, albeit with a cast.
The Packers are “hopeful” rookie RB A.J. Dillon will be available after suffering a quad injury against the Rams. Dillon had a breakout game in Week 16, rushing for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Since then, he’s played third fiddle to Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, who had 14 and 12 carries against the Rams, respectively. The Packers’ offense was a wreck against Tampa Bay in the regular season, getting shut out for the final three quarters of a 38-10 loss.
Jared Veldheer was signed off the Colts practice squad and was a candidate to play left tackle for the Packers last week, but he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list after testing positive on Wednesday. Billy Turner should get the start at left tackle again after being the highest-graded pass blocker of the Divisional Round on PFF.
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes’s injury is the biggest story of the week as he is currently trying to progress through concussion protocol. Mahomes was knocked out in the second half and replaced by Chad Henne who completed six of his eight pass attempts for 66 yards and an interception. Mahomes can’t clear protocol until later in the week, but the Chiefs seem hopeful he can play against Buffalo, considering his injury is technically a tweaked nerve and not a concussion.
The Chiefs hoped Clyde Edwards-Helaire would be ready to return against the Browns, but he was inactive for the third-straight game since suffering a high-ankle sprain in Week 15. Darrel Williams rushed for a career-high 78 yards on 13 carries in the Divisional Round and the other six carries were divided between Le’Veon Bell, Tyreek Hill, and Mecole Hardman. Edwards-Helaire was limited in practice last Wednesday before sitting out the rest of the week. His status will be worth monitoring this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs sent WR Antonio Brown in for an MRI on Monday after he played just three snaps in the second half against the Saints. Brown reportedly has a knee injury and if he is out on Sunday, that could open the door for Scotty Miller to get back on the field. Miller has played just eight snaps in each of the Bucs last two games and hasn’t caught more than three passes in a game since Week 7.
Defensive tackle Vita Vea hasn’t played since suffering a fractured leg in Week 5, but he is expected to return from IR this week. Vea was the Buccaneers’ highest-graded defender and pass-rusher this season and could be another weapon for a pass rush that ranked third in the NFL in pressure rate this season.