The playoffs are here and 12 teams are set to square off on Super Wild Card Weekend.
With little time dividing the regular season from the postseason for these squads, getting healthy and staying healthy becomes even more important.
Here are some of the biggest injury storylines for every team playing this weekend:
Baltimore Ravens Injuries
The biggest question heading into the playoffs is the health of Lamar Jackson, who hasn’t stepped on a field since getting injured against the Broncos on December 4th. Jackson still had swelling in his knee on Sunday, but it was still reported he has a “strong chance” of playing against the Bengals and Jackson has told people he expects to play.
The 2019 MVP’s return couldn’t come at a better time as the Ravens’ offense has struggled mightily, scoring over 17 points just once since their bye in Week 10. Tyler Huntley was also held out of the season finale, but that felt precautionary based on John Harbaugh’s comments last week.
Jackson has struggled as a passer in the postseason, completing just 55.9 percent of his passes and throwing five interceptions in four starts. He hasn’t made a start in Cincinnati since the 2020 season due to injury, but he has completed 71% of his passes and posted a 129.3 passer rating in two starts at Paycor Stadium.
J.K. Dobbins was a healthy scratch on Sunday and will be ready to go for the Wild Card. The Ravens initially said the move was to get Gus Edwards more involved in the offense, but he had just four carries for 16 yards.
Baltimore also sat Mark Andrews, who is also healthy. With Andrews out, Isaiah Likely had the best game of his rookie season, catching eight passes for 103 yards.
On the defensive side, Marcus Peters has been inactive the last three weeks due to a calf injury, but was limited in practice all week, so he is trending in the right direction. Daryl Worley was activated from the IR and thrust into the starting lineup on Sunday, getting targeted 10 times in coverage, allowing five completions and one touchdown.
Buffalo Bills Injuries
Heading into the postseason, the Bills are relatively healthy compared to the rest of the field. The only spot on their roster where depth is being tested is at safety. Micah Hyde has been on the IR since suffering a neck injury in October and Damar Hamlin joined him last week after his terrifying injury.
Dean Marlowe was a midseason pickup for Buffalo and got his first start in the regular season finale against the Patriots, he played just one snap in his previous seven weeks with the team. Marlowe had the best season of his career as a rotational safety for the Bills in 2020 when he had two interceptions and 1.5 sacks while playing just 23 percent of the defensive snaps.
Jaylen Waddle has torched Bills’ safeties this season in their two matchups, catching four of five targets for 137 yards and a touchdown.
Cincinnati Bengals Injuries
Despite all their offseason investments, the Bengals enter the postseason with more question marks along their offensive line. Right guard Alex Cappa was ruled out of Sunday’s win due to an ankle injury and right tackle La’el Collins is done for the season after tearing his ACL two weeks ago.
The Bengals’ offensive line has been much improved this year, ranking third in pressures per dropback allowed and allowing just six sacks over their last four games.
Hakeem Adeniji, who was a trainwreck in the playoffs at right guard last season, hasn’t allowed a sack since taking over at right tackle in Week 16, but has allowed seven pressures. Max Scharping, who replaced Cappa on Sunday, allowed just two sacks in 400 pass blocking snaps as a member of the Texans last season.
In 82 dropbacks against the Ravens this season, Joe Burrow has been pressured 19 times, taking four sacks.
Dallas Cowboys Injuries
DaRon Bland suffered a chest injury against the Commanders, but he is expected to play without any limitations on Monday night against the Buccaneers. The rookie has played well as the Cowboys’ slot corner this season, intercepting five passes and allowing just 6.9 yards per target in coverage.
When the Cowboys and Buccaneers played in Week 1, Tom Brady targeted Jourdan Lewis in the slot five times, completing four passes for 50 yards.
The Cowboys are hopeful starting center Tyler Biadasz will return this week after missing Week 18 with an ankle injury. His absence forced Dallas to move the entire left side of their offensive line, putting left guard Connor McGovern at center and left tackle Tyler Smith kicked inside to guard. 40-year-old Jason Peters started at left tackle for the first time all season.
With all those moving parts, the Cowboys struggled to run the ball, picking up just 10 yards on their seven first-down carries. Running the ball has been an issue since Terence Steele went down in Week 14, the Cowboys rank 31st in yards before contact since then
Jacksonville Jaguars Injuries
The Jaguars’ resurgence also coincides with their team getting healthy. Travon Walker returned from an ankle injury against the Titans and finished the game with three quarterback pressures and a forced fumble.
The only guy missing from their lineup is left tackle Cam Robinson who will miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury in Week 14. Walker Little has played well in his three starts, allowing just one sack and eight total pressures.
Los Angeles Chargers Injuries
Mike Williams suffered a back injury on Sunday evening, but x-rays were negative and the consensus is that he will suit up against the Jaguars. Williams missed four games earlier this season with a high ankle sprain.
When Williams was out, Josh Palmer stepped up and averaged six catches and 74 yards per game from Week 9 through Week 13. Palmer had six catches for 99 yards against the Jaguars in Week 3 and Williams had just one catch for 15 yards in the loss.
The outlook isn’t as clear for Joey Bosa, who came up lame after possibly aggravating the groin injury that caused him to miss over three months. In 24 pass rushing snaps over the past two weeks, Bosa has seven pressures and one sack. He played just seven snaps before getting injured against the Jaguars earlier this season. However, Brandon Staley did not mention him as one of the injured players during Monday’s press conference.
As for linebacker Kenneth Murray, he is expected to be at practice this week after being limited against the Broncos due to a stinger. Murray was graded as one of the worst run-defending linebackers on Pro Football Focus this season and the numbers back it up. Los Angeles allowed 5.75 yards per carry when he was on the field and 4.75 when he was on the sidelines.
Miami Dolphins Injuries
Mike McDaniel told reporters on Monday that he hopes Tua Tagovailoa will be available for this weekend after sitting out the final two games of the regular season with a concussion.
In the season finale, Skylar Thompson completed 20 of his 31 pass attempts for 152 yards for a Dolphins offense that scored zero touchdowns.
Tagovailoa struggled in his last four starts, completing just 52% of his passes, throwing six touchdowns, and turning the ball over six times as well. However, he’s played well against the Bills this season, going 30-48 for 420 yards and three touchdowns in two starts.
The Dolphins haven’t ruled out Raheem Mostert yet, but he is expected to get surgery to correct his broken thumb. Backup Jeff Wilson got 31 rushing attempts in the last two games, averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Mostert ran all over the Bills in Week 15, rushing 17 times for 136 yards. His loss would be a huge blow to a struggling offense.
As for the offensive line, McDaniel wouldn’t give any updates on his tackles, who were both absent by the end of Sunday’s win. Terron Armstead was inactive with four different injuries and Brandon Shell couldn’t finish the contest due to an ankle injury.
Greg Little started at left tackle and allowed two quarterback hits. The Dolphins have allowed pressure on 46 percent of their quarterback’s dropbacks when Armstead isn’t on the field. Right guard Robert Hunt kicked out to right tackle with Shell out. Hunt played over 700 snaps at right tackle in 2020 and allowed 15 pressures and three sacks.
Minnesota Vikings Injuries
The Vikings held Za’Darius Smith and Harrison Smith out of the season finale, but both are expected to be ready for the playoffs. Harrison is dealing with a knee injury, but wasn’t on any practice reports last week. Za’Darius was absent due to personal reasons.
Cameron Dantzler was also inactive after playing just seven snaps in Week 17 and missing two previous games with an ankle injury.
Duke Shelley has actually played really well in the last four weeks, amassing six pass breakups and one interception. On 23 targets, he’s allowed just nine completions and zero touchdowns or explosive plays.
As for center Garrett Bradbury, Kevin O’Connell told reporters he will be limited throughout the week and reevaluated later. Chris Reed has played well in the last two games, allowing just two pressures in his first ever work at center.
New York Giants Injuries
The Giants played it very conservatively on Sunday, sitting most of their key players, including Dexter Lawrence, Saquon Barkley, Andrew Thomas, and Daniel Jones.
All of those guys are healthy and will play against the Vikings.
Adoree’ Jackson was back at practice last week, but was inactive again due to his knee injury. He is expected to try and go this weekend.
As for Leonard Williams, he still has a neck injury that won’t heal until the offseason, but won’t keep him off the field in the meantime. His absence against the Eagles was mostly precautionary.
Williams and Lawrence have combined for 96 pressures this season, doing most of their work in the A and B gaps.
San Francisco 49ers Injuries
The 49ers had a pair of offensive weapons return against the Cardinals with Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell both recovering from knee injuries.
Samuel had a season-low three touches, catching two passes for 20 yards and adding one carry for four. He still played 68 percent of the offensive snaps. He averages a healthy 15.92 yards per reception against the Seahawks in his career.
As for Mitchell, he was the third back in the Niners rotation, behind both Christian McCaffrey and Jordan Mason. However, he still finished as the team’s leading rusher thanks to a 37-yard scamper in the third quarter.
The 49ers are also hopeful starting left guard Aaron Banks can return after a one-game absence due to ankle and knee injuries.
In 101 snaps at left guard over the last two weeks, Daniel Brunskill has allowed only two pressures. However, Banks has allowed just one sack and two quarterback hits all season.
Seattle Seahawks Injuries
Ever the optimist, Pete Carroll told reporters that safety Ryan Neal is “pretty postive” about returning to the field for the postseason. He’s been inactive for three weeks due to a knee injury.
Former Raiders’ first-round pick Jonathan Abrams has been taking Neal’s snaps over the past two weeks and allowed six catches for 100 yards in coverage against the Jets.
Phil Haynes has a chance to return from his high ankle sprain. He’s been rotating with Gabe Jackson at right guard all season, although Jackson has taken about 200 more snaps.
Haynes has been a slightly better pass blocker, but both guys have been pretty mediocre, earning overall grades in the mid-50s from PFF.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Injuries
With nothing to gain against the Falcons, Tampa Bay rested all their banged-up vets including Donovan Smith, Vita Vea, Mike Edwards, Logan Ryan, and Carlton Davis.
Mike Evans was active, but left the game early due to an illness that shouldn’t impact his availability.
Robert Hainsey only played 13 snaps against the Falcons before bowing out with a hamstring injury.
With Hainsey out, left guard Nick Leverett slid over and allowed zero pressures.
Todd Bowles didn’t have any updates on his centers, including Ryan Jensen, on Monday. Jensen has been out since the preseason, but was designated to return from the IR prior to Week 18.