With just one week remaining until the start of the playoffs and only a couple teams still fighting for inclusion into the postseason, there are a lot of teams preparing for a lot of meaningless football in the inaugural Week 18.
As the 2021 season winds down, here are all the major injuries each team is dealing with:
The Cardinals beat the Cowboys on Sunday despite being pretty short-handed on the offensive side of the ball. With DeAndre Hopkins still out for at least a few more weeks, Arizona is hopeful that D.J. Humphries, Rondale Moore and James Conner can be active for Week 18.
Kelvin Beachum filled in for Humphries at left tackle and played well, but his replacement at right tackle, Josh Jones, really struggled, allowing five pressures, the same number allowed by the other four linemen.
Kyle Pitts suffered a hamstring injury early in Atlanta’s loss to Buffalo on Sunday. The rookie is just 50 yards shy of setting the record for rookie tight ends, but his status for Week 18 is questionable.
The fourth overall pick still managed to accumulate 69 yards on two catches last week despite playing a season-low 27 snaps. With backup tight end Hayden Hurst on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Parker Hesse is the next man up on the depth chart. He has five catches for 43 yards this season.
According to John Harbaugh, Lamar Jackson “has a chance” to play in Baltimore’s season finale. Unfortunately, that sentiment has been the same since Jackson was injured last month.
Thanks to the advent of the 17-game schedule, the Ravens have a chance to be the first team in NFL history to start a season 8-3 and finish with a losing record.
Left guard Ryan Bates is day-to-day with a knee injury. He leap-frogged veteran Jon Feliciano on the depth chart, but Feliciano could find himself starting again if Bates misses time.
Bates only missed five snaps at the end of the game, but was the team’s second-highest graded pass blocker on Pro Football Focus.
The Panthers started Brady Christensen at left tackle again with Cam Erving away from the team due to a personal matter. The rookie allowed a team-high four pressures, but hasn’t allowed a sack in any of his past four appearances at left tackle.
After missing two games due to an ankle injury, Justin Fields is expected to start on Sunday, if he is healthy enough. The Bears won both games Fields missed.
Fields’s last start came against the Vikings, who are also the Bears’ Week 18 opponents. He completed 26 of 39 passes for 285 yards and a garbage time touchdown in the 17-9 loss.
Joe Burrow was unable to finish Cincinnati’s thrilling win over Kansas City after taking a shot to his knee in the closing seconds. However, Burrow is expected to be fine and his removal from the game was considered precautionary.
Baker Mayfield will need offseason surgery to correct the shoulder injury that has been bothering him since the beginning of the season.
Mayfield has dealt with a litany of injuries this season, but has only missed two games, one of which due to COVID-19. Mayfield’s touchdown percentage, adjusted yards per attempt, and QBR this season were all career-lows.
The Cowboys will miss Michael Gallup for the rest of the season after the receiver tore his ACL on Sunday. The pending free agent played in just nine games this season, making 35 catches for 445 yards and two touchdowns.
With Gallup down, the Cowboys should turn to Cedrick Wilson to complement Amari Cooper and Ceedee Lamb. Wilson is second on the team in yards per target this season.
Guard Dalton Risner suffered a UCL tear and will need at least three weeks to recover. The good news is he shouldn’t need surgery. Former sixth-round pick Netane Muti will start after filling in for Risner on Sunday.
The Broncos are also expecting Drew Lock to start on Saturday afternoon with Teddy Bridgewater still in concussion protocol. Lock posted a career-high passer rating against the Chargers in Week 17.
The Lions placed both of their starting tackles on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker could both miss the team’s final game.
Matt Nelson and Will Holden are the only other tackles on the Detroit roster, although starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai does have experience at tackle so he could kick out if the Lions are more confident in their interior line depth.
Green Bay Packers
All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari has yet to play a snap this season, but he is expected to return to practice this week. He could also see some game action against the Lions on Sunday.
The Packers already have the top seed in the NFC locked up, so it’s doubtful to see Aaron Rodgers or any other stars get extensive work against Detroit. Yosh Nijman has been manning left tackle since Elgton Jenkins went down and has allowed one sack in his last five starts.
The Texans placed safety Justin Reid on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. Luckily for Houston, it seems like most of their COVID issues are over after having nearly half their team on the list a few weeks ago.
Reid has been the team’s deep safety all year, but has struggled in coverage, allowing 70% of his targets to be completed and over 20 yards per reception.
Xavier Rhodes is considered “day-to-day” after suffering a hamstring injury in the Colts’ loss to the Raiders on Sunday. Isaiah Rodgers filled in for Rhodes against Las Vegas and played well, intercepting a pass and allowing just 17 yards on four targets.
Even though Rhodes leads all Colts cornerbacks in snaps, he has been worse than both Rodgers and Rock Ya-Sin this season. His potential absence shouldn’t be too big of an issue against Jacksonville in Week 18.
The Jaguars struggled to be competitive with the Patriots on Sunday with five starters sitting on the reserve/COVID-19 list. However, despite missing both center Brandon Linder and right guard Ben Bartch, Jacksonville allowed Trevor Lawrence to be pressured only five times.
Kansas City Chiefs
Right tackle Lucas Niang suffered a torn patellar tendon in his left knee and is done for the season. It’s been a tough season for the rookie, who also missed three games due to injury earlier in the season.
Andrew Wylie will reassume the starting position at right tackle for the remainder of the season with Mike Remmers already on the IR as well. He’s earned a pass-blocking grade of 53.9 from PFF in his seven appearances at right tackle this season.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders were expecting Darren Waller to return in Week 17 before he was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list. The tight end hasn’t seen any action since Thanksgiving, but could be active for the Raiders’ Week 18 contest against the Chargers.
Waller wasn’t nearly as efficient this year as he was in past seasons, catching only 63 percent of his targets, although his average depth of target did jump nearly three yards. Since his injury, the Raiders have targeted tight ends just 14 percent of the time, which ranks 27th in the NFL.
Los Angeles Chargers
Corey Linsley has a back injury and is considered “day-to-day.” However, Brandon Staley does expect his starting center to miss practice this week. Scott Quessenberry filled in for Linsley in each of the last two weeks, allowing just one hurry in 71 pass-blocking snaps.
Los Angeles Rams
Despite tearing his Achilles in July, Cam Akers is expected to make his season debut for the Rams in Week 18 against the 49ers. Akers averaged 4.8 yards per carry and 110 yards per game in the Rams’ two playoff games last season.
Akers will split time with Sony Michel who has become the lead back with Darrell Henderson out. Michel is averaging over 24 touches per game since taking over the starting role back in Week 13.
The Dolphins remain one of the healthiest teams in the NFL, however, they did have to put defensive backs Noah Igbinoghehe and Sheldrick Redwine on the reserve/COVID-19 list prior to their Week 17 game.
Neither player has played a big role on defense this season, although they have both become key special teamers in recent weeks.
The Vikings struggled offensively on Sunday with Kirk Cousins on the reserve/COVID-19 list and a number of his teammates joined him on Monday, including Christian Darrisaw, Eric Kendricks, Ezra Cleveland, and Brian O’Neill.
Cousins is expected to return for a meaningless Week 18 game against the Bears, but we’ll have to see with the rest of these guys.
New England Patriots
The Patriots beat the Jaguars by 40 on Sunday, but lost Damien Harris in the process, who played just 16 snaps due to a hamstring injury. However, that low snap total seems to be precautionary.
With the Pats still fighting for a division, they could push Harris to return this week, or rest him up for the playoffs. Rhamondre Stevenson had a big day with his teammate sidelined against the Jaguars, rushing for 107 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
New Orleans Saints
Taysom Hill returned from the reserve/COVID-19 list to beat the Panthers on Sunday, but he was missing four of his starting offensive linemen, including tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramcyzk.
One place where the Saints have struggled without their key guys up front is in the run game, where they now rank 26th in run block win rate. Against Carolina, they ran for 73 total yards despite gaining 120 yards after contact.
New York Giants
Mike Glennon will miss Week 18 after having wrist surgery. Jake Fromm is expected to start for the Giants against the Washington Football Team.
Fromm previously started against the Eagles in Week 16 and threw for just 25 yards on 17 attempts before being benched for Glennon. Brian Lewerke is on the practice squad and should be Fromm’s backup on Sunday.
Lewerke was a three-year starter at Michigan State before going undrafted. He completed 57% of his passes in college and threw 32 interceptions in 41 games.
New York Jets
Running back Michael Carter is in concussion protocol as of Monday afternoon, according to Robert Saleh. It’s a tough break for the rookie, who was averaging over nine yards per carry in his last two games before the injury.
Austin Walter ended up getting a career-high 14 carries against the Buccaneers and could be leaned on against in Week 18 against Buffalo.
Left tackle George Fant is also dealing with a knee injury, but it isn’t expected to be an ACL issue. The tackle has been a pleasant surprise this season filling in on the left side and allowing just one sack all season.
Fant will be replaced by Chuma Edoga, who allowed a sack on Sunday.
Of the 31 players added to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, 12 were Philadelphia Eagles including All-Pros Fletcher Cox and Jason Kelce.
Other players added include Dallas Goedert, who spent time on the COVID-19 list back in October, Avonte Maddox, who is Goedert’s roommate, and fellow defensive starter Rodney McLeod.
Fortunately for Philadelphia, it wrapped up its playoff spot last week and doesn’t need to beat Dallas on Saturday night. More starters could also be rested unless the Eagles are desperate to try for the sixth seed, which could be attained if San Francisco loses.
The Steelers were without punter Pressley Harvin for a second-straight week as he deals with the tragic death of his father. Corliss Waitman handled the punting duties again, punting five times and averaging 48 yards per kick.
San Francisco 49ers
Left tackle Trent Williams suffered a sprained elbow this week and will be limited throughout this week’s practices. Jaylon Moore played the three snaps that Williams missed on Sunday against the Texans.
Defensively, the 49ers put three defensive backs on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday: Dontae Johnson, Jimmie Ward, and K’Waun Williams.
Deommodore Lenoir could start in Williams’s spot if he is inactive on Sunday and Ward could be replaced by Jarrod Wilson, who is the only healthy reserve safety on the roster right now.
Bobby Wagner is dealing with a sprained knee, but Pete Carroll hasn’t yet ruled him out for the season finale this weekend. However, Ian Rapoport has a different report, saying Wagner’s 2021 season is finished.
Wagner is PFF’s 10th-highest graded linebacker this year and his 118 tackles rank second to Foyesade Oluokun at the position. Cody Barton filled in for Wagner on Sunday against Detroit and could get his first start of the season in Week 18.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chris Godwin underwent successful knee surgery on Monday, but the pending free agent’s status for the beginning of 2022 is still up in the air. The Buccaneers receiving corps has become super thin with Godwin and Antonio Brown both done for the year, albeit for wildly different reasons.
Cyril Grayson, who had just one catch for three yards prior to this season, became Brady’s favorite target against the Jets, leading the Bucs receivers with eight targets and catching six passes for 81 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
Running back Derrick Henry is expected to rejoin the team at practice this week. The reigning rushing champ hasn’t played since injuring his foot back in October.
Even more good news in Tennessee as Julio Jones, Jayon Brown, and Kendall Lamm were all activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list. All three starters should be active and ready to go for the season finale.
Washington Football Team
Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones is in concussion protocol after a scary collision with a sideline camera led to him being carted off the field. The Football Team is now down to John Bates and Sammie Reyes at tight end.
Bates played 92% of the offensive snaps against the Eagles with Seals-Jones out and caught three passes for 35 yards.