We’ve reached the end of the 2020 NFL season and despite all the COVID-19 drama, it looks like the NFL will cross the finish line without canceling a single game.
Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of all the major injuries that could affect Week 17:
Quarterback Kyler Murray suffered a lower leg injury on Sunday and his status for Week 17 is uncertain. Kliff Kingsbury told reporters on Monday that he is “hopeful” his star QB will be available for Week 17 with a playoff berth is on the line. If Murray is unable to go, former CFL quarterback Chris Streveler should get the nod over veteran Brett Hundley. Streveler threw for 2698 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions during his two seasons in Winnipeg.
Atlanta has nothing to play for this week, but Julio Jones will suit up for the final game of the season, if he’s healthy. The star receiver has missed the last three games while nursing a hamstring injury. Russell Gage has stepped up in Jones’s absence, catching 14 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown over the last three contests. The Falcons are going against Tampa Bay in Week 17, a team Jones usually torches. In 16 career games against the Buccaneers, Jones has amassed 1,841 yards on 114 catches and scored 11 touchdowns.
The Ravens are one win away from a playoff berth, but they may be shorthanded in the trenches on Sunday against the Bengals. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue left the Ravens victory over the Giants with a thigh injury in the fourth quarter and C Patrick Mekari failed to make it to halftime before his back tightened up. Ngakoue has been playing better since getting acquired by Baltimore in Week 8. Ngakoue has 15 quarterback pressures and three sacks in his last four games. Despite only playing nine games, Ngakoue ranks fourth on the team in QB pressures. As for Mekari, who has allowed just two pressures since taking over the starting center role in Week 11, it will take more time to see if he can go on Sunday. Matt Skura would be his replacement. Skura has an overall grade of 50.3 on Pro Football Focus this season.
The Bills didn’t suffer any new injuries on Monday Night Football, but WR John Brown was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list after being activated from the IR. Buffalo will need a win or a Steelers loss to lock up the second seed in the AFC. If Brown continues to test negative, he should be active against Miami on Sunday.
Defensive end Brian Burns entered Week 16 with a knee injury and exited with a stinger. Burns played just 41% of the defensive snaps, but we’re still waiting on an update on his condition. The Panthers may want to play it safe with their former first-round pick and sit Burns in a meaningless Week 17 game against the Saints. No surprise here, but Christian McCaffrey has already been ruled out by Matt Rhule. The star running back has played just three games this season and just once since Week 2 due to a variety of injuries.
The Bears have Aaron Rodgers on the schedule this week, but cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Buster Skrine are both considered questionable right now. Johnson hasn’t played since suffering a shoulder injury in Week 14 and Skrine has been dealing with a concussion since Week 13. The Bears held Rodgers to 211 passing yards in their Week 12 matchup, but allowed him to complete 21 of his 29 pass attempts and allowed four passing touchdowns. Duke Shelley has been filling in the slot for Skrine and rookie Kindle Vildor has struggled to replace Johnson, allowing a passer rating of 138.5 when targeted.
Cornerback William Jackson III suffered a concussion on Sunday and will have to clear protocol to play in the season finale. One guy who won’t play on Sunday is Joe Mixon, who is officially shut down for the rest of the season. Samaje Perine had a breakout game in Week 16, rushing for 95 yards on 13 carries and catching four passes for 41 yards.
Right guard Nick Harris suffered a knee injury on Sunday, but was able to play all 82 offensive snaps against the Jets. Harris is technically the third option at right guard, but starter Wyatt Teller is dealing with an ankle injury and top backup Chris Hubbard is on the IR. Teller has a shot of playing in a pivotal Week 17 game against the Steelers, which would be a huge upgrade over Harris. Another thing to monitor is the Browns’ wide receivers. Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, KhaDarel Hodge, and Donovan Peoples-Jones were all added to the reserve/COVID-19 list over the weekend and missed Week 16. According to Kevin Stefanski, the receivers can rejoin the team on Thursday, provided they continue to test negative. Marvin Hall and practice squad WR Ja’Marcus Bradley were the only wide receivers to record a catch against the Jets as Baker Mayfield targeted tight ends and running backs on 37 of his 53 throws.
Good news for the suddenly playoff-relevant Cowboys; All-Pro offensive lineman Zack Martin might return from the IR in Week 17, according to Stephen Jones. Martin started the season at his usual position of right guard, but had to kick out to right tackle following a series of injuries at the position. Terence Steele has struggled at right tackle in the past two weeks, allowing two sacks and nine quarterback pressures. In other news, safety Darian Thompson suffered a concussion on Sunday. Cornerback Jourdan Lewis filled in for Thompson at safety and Anthony Brown moved into the slot. Expect that lineup to hold if Thompson can’t get through protocol this week.
Running back Phillip Lindsay has been hampered by nagging injuries all season and was placed on IR prior to Sunday’s game. With Lindsay out, Melvin Gordon got 16 carries, his most since Week 4. Rookie WR K.J. Hamler suffered a concussion on Sunday and will have to clear protocol if he wants to play in a meaningless season finale. Diontae Spencer will have an increased role if Hamler sits out Week 17.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford started the game with a rib injury, but left in the first half due to an ankle injury and was replaced by Chase Daniel. The Lions turned in a hapless performance with multiple coaches out due to COVID-19, including interim head coach Darrell Bevell. Despite the injury and the lack of importance in their Week 17 game, Stafford has said he’s determined to play against the Vikings. Veteran C Joe Dahl is dealing with a back injury and struggled on Saturday before exiting in favor of Evan Brown. Dahl was filling in for Frank Ragnow, who is still dealing with a fractured throat.
Green Bay Packers
Rick Wagner has been the Packers’ starting right tackle for the last four weeks, but he was unable to finish Sunday night’s game after suffering a knee injury. Lucas Patrick, who started the first 14 games of the season, came off the bench to play right guard and Billy Turner slid out to right tackle. Turner had previously started at right tackle through Week 12 before Wagner replaced him and forced him to move inside to his natural position, sending Patrick to the bench. The Packers enter a Week 17 matchup with the Bears in a must-win situation, if they want the top seed in the NFC. The Bears boast the sixth-best pass rush according to PFF.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson suffered an arm injury on Sunday, but he expects to play in Week 17 against the Titans. The same can’t be said for LT Laremy Tunsil, who should miss the game after suffering a high-ankle sprain on Sunday. Roderick Johnson, who started the game at right tackle for Tytus Howard (IR), slid over to left tackle to replace Tunsil and Charlie Heck finished the game at right tackle. Johnson started for Tunsil in Week 11 when he was hurt, so he should be the left tackle against Tennessee on Sunday after allowing four QB pressures against the Bengals.
Left tackle Anthony Castonzo was a late addition to the injury report and missed Sunday’s game due to an ankle injury. As for right tackle Braden Smith, he is on the reserve/COVID-19 list and could return as soon as Wednesday if he never tested positive. The Colts need to beat the Jaguars to keep their division champion hopes alive, but could be down to Chaz Green at right tackle and J’Marcus Webb at left tackle after Will Holden suffered an ankle injury. The Colts won’t have an update on Castonzo’s condition until Wednesday.
Rookie running back James Robinson is just 35 yards shy of breaking the undrafted rookie rushing record, but he is currently dealing with swelling in his injured ankle. The Jaguars already have the top pick in next year’s draft secured, so their result on Sunday against the Colts is meaningless to the future of the franchise. Dare Ogunbowale has just 18 career carries in his four-year NFL career, but 14 of those came on Sunday and he racked up 71 rushing yards on the Bears. Ogunbowale should be the Jaguars’ top back if Robinson can’t go, but should have a sizable role if Robinson is limited as well.
Kansas City Chiefs
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins suffered a calf injury on Sunday, but it has been deemed minor. Despite this, it’s expected he will rest this week, then return after the Chiefs’ first-round bye. In addition to Watkins, WR Tyreek Hill is expected to rest and Andy Reid noted that Patrick Mahomes probably won’t play the entire game. With the top seed in the AFC already locked up, it will be nearly three weeks between games for some of these veterans.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers have nothing left to play for, except for draft positioning, but they may be without a pair of key veterans against the Chiefs on Sunday. Cornerback Casey Hayward Jr is dealing with a hamstring injury and RT Bryan Bulaga played just 19 snaps before exiting with a foot injury. Storm Norton filled in for Bulaga and was the Broncos highest-graded pass blocker according to PFF. According to Anthony Lynn, it will be “a challenge” for either of the veterans to heal up in time for the season finale.
Los Angeles Rams
In their biggest game of the season, the Rams will have to turn to John Wolford at quarterback after Jared Goff underwent thumb surgery on Monday. The Rams can still make the postseason even if they lose, provided Green Bay is able to beat Chicago. Sean McVay isn’t ruling out Goff rejoining the team in the playoffs, should they advance. As for Wolford, he hasn’t taken an NFL snap since he graduated from Wake Forest in 2018. Former Rams QB Blake Bortles is expected to be signed later this week as a depth piece. Speaking of depth, there is almost none of it in the Rams backfield as Darrell Henderson will miss Sunday’s game with a high-ankle sprain. Rookie Cam Akers is also dealing with a high-ankle sprain, but McVay sounded optimistic about him being available against Arizona. If neither is a go, Malcolm Brown would be the team’s primary back with special teamers Xavier Jones and Raymond Calais as the top backups.
Las Vegas Raiders
Defensive tackle Clelin Ferrell is not expected to play in Week 17 due to the shoulder injury he suffered in Week 14. The Raiders may also be without starting LG Denzelle Good, who has allowed just one sack since taking over the job in Week 4, but suffered a knee injury against the Dolphins. Good’s replacement, John Simpson, was the Raiders’ second-highest graded pass-blocker on PFF last week.
Slot receiver Jakeem Grant has a high-ankle sprain he suffered in the Dolphins’ thrilling win over the Raiders. Grant is probably out for Week 17, which would be another tough blow to a receiving corps that is already without DeVante Parker (hamstring) and Preston Williams (foot/IR). Mack Hollins and Isaiah Ford could line up on the outside with Lynn Bowden Jr. in the slot for the Dolphins on Sunday in a must-win game.
Rookie CB Cameron Dantzler suffered an undisclosed injury on Christmas night. In a year where nothing has gone right for the Viking defense, Dantzler has shown some promise, earning a 69.8 coverage grade from PFF, second among cornerbacks on the team. If Dantzler can’t play in Week 17 in a meaningless game against the Lions, fellow rookie and former Temple standout Harrison Hand could get some extra snaps. Hand recorded his first interception last week.
New England Patriots
The Patriots suffered a number of injuries on Monday night to key veterans including G Shaq Mason (foot), S Devin McCourty (shoulder), LB Josh Uche (foot), and DE Tashawn Bower (neck). Believe it or not, Bill Belichick did not have an update on any of those guys.
New Orleans Saints
Linebacker Kwon Alexander was carted into the locker room on Sunday. Unfortunately, it was revealed on Monday that he tore his Achilles and will miss the rest of the season. Alexander started every game for the Saints since being traded at the deadline, but graded out among the bottom three tackling linebackers in that timespan. Alex Anzalone should be the Saints’ starting WILL moving forward. The former third-round pick has earned an overall grade of 67.3 from PFF this year for his work at middle and weakside linebacker.
New York Giants
The Giants still have an outside shot at the playoffs, but they might have to compete in Week 17 without TE Evan Engram, who has an ankle injury. The Giants are optimistic Engram will play against Dallas despite the tight end getting hurt late on Sunday. Kaden Smith would be the next man up if Engram can’t go, but that would be a huge drop off in production. Smith has just four multi-catch games this season and has yet to eclipse 20 receiving yards in a single game. The Cowboys are very good defending the tight end, even last week they held the duo of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert to just 68 yards on six catches. Daniel Jones also made his return last week against Baltimore and didn’t suffer any setbacks, so his status should no longer be a question mark.
New York Jets
The ageless wonder Frank Gore will miss Week 17 due to a lung contusion. La’Mical Perine should be the feature back in a meaningless game. It will be interesting to see what the Jets do at inside linebacker with three guys currently on IR. As of right now, Neville Hewitt is the Jets’ only healthy inside linebacker.
Star DT Fletcher Cox missed most of Sunday’s game with a stinger. The Eagles were out-scored 34-3 following his exit. If Cox can’t go against Washington on Sunday night, Javon Hargrave and Malik Jackson will be the Eagles’ starting defensive tackles, although reserve DT T.Y. McGill was the Eagles’ highest-graded defensive player in Week 16. Tight end Dallas Goedert was forced out of action due to a calf injury and Zach Ertz led the team in targets in his absence. It’s also worth noting Jalen Hurts might have a leg injury, but Doug Pederson has already named him the starting quarterback for Week 17.
The Steelers didn’t suffer any new injuries in Week 16, but Mike Tomlin announced on Tuesday that Ben Roethlisberger will sit out the team’s season finale. Roethlisberger has been dealing with a variety of nagging injuries, including a knee issue that landed him on the injury report a couple weeks ago. Mason Rudolph will get the start against Myles Garrett and the Cleveland Browns. There’s no update on whether other starters will get to rest, but Tomlin noted he will be much quicker with his substitutions. The Steelers are playing strictly for seeding, while the Browns could make the playoffs if they win.
San Francisco 49ers
Despite being designated to return from IR, QB Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t expected to play in the 49ers’ season finale. Neither are LT Trent Williams (elbow), WR Brandon Aiyuk (high-ankle sprain), or CB Richard Sherman (calf). Sherman’s calf has been particularly bothersome, the former All-Pro cornerback has played just four games since suffering the injury in Week 1. Ahkello Witherspoon and Jason Verrett should be the Niners’ starting cornerbacks on Sunday. Williams sprained his elbow in Week 16, but didn’t miss any time. Williams was enjoying a resurgent season with the 49ers, grading out as PFF’s top offensive tackle.
Left guard Mike Iupati is the only starter whose status for Sunday is in question. Iupati injured his neck in Week 15 and didn’t practice or suit up last week. Jordan Simmons was pitiful in Week 16, allowing seven QB pressures and a pair of sacks against the Rams. PFF channeled their inner Dean Wormer and awarded Simmons a pass-blocking grade of 0.0 for his efforts. In better news, CB Tre Flowers is expected to practice this week. He has been on IR since Week 12 due to a hamstring injury. If Flowers returns, he would replace D.J. Reed Jr in the starting lineup.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Running back Ronald Jones II might suit up in Week 17 after spending the last two games on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Jones is also dealing with a broken finger. Rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn leap-frogged veterans Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy last week, carrying the ball 15 times for 62 yards. Fournette had nine carries for 34 yards and McCoy didn’t even have a carry, instead catching one pass for five yards. Tampa Bay has already locked up their playoff spot, but could fall to the sixth seed if they lose and the Rams defeat the Cardinals.
Tennessee is getting healthy at the right time. No new injuries were suffered in Week 16, however, CB Kristian Fulton is still trying to return from a knee injury that has sidelined him since Week 7. The Titans need to beat the Texans on Sunday to lock up their playoff spot in the crowded AFC wild card picture.
Washington Football Team
Washington cut Dwayne Haskins on Monday, which would lead you to believe Alex Smith is ready to go against the Eagles on Sunday night. However, if Smith is unable to play, Taylor Heinicke will make his second-career NFL start. Heinicke played well in relief of Haskins against the Panthers last week, completing 12 of 19 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles secondary is banged up and allowed two 100-yard games to Cowboys receivers last week, but WR Terry McLaurin isn’t expected to play after suffering a high-ankle sprain in Week 15. Steven Sims and Cam Sims were the Football Team’s leading receivers last week, recording 52 and 63 yards, respectively.