Key Injuries to Affect NFL Wild-Card Picks & Odds

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 5:35 PM GMT

Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014 5:35 PM GMT

Big injuries could affect the NFL game odds. We will focus on the eight teams playing on the NFL's wild-card weekend even though there are 20 teams already preparing for the 2015 regular season.

Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
Bell had a monster second season and was named team MVP of the Steelers, which is impressive considering Ben Roethlisberger had the best season of his career and Antonio Brown nearly won the NFL's Triple Crown for receivers. As of this writing, it's not looking great for Bell to play Saturday night against the rival Baltimore Ravens. Bell hyperextended his knee in the Week 17 win over Cincinnati. An MRI was negative, so that's a good thing. But obviously having only six days to get back doesn't help. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, who is very reliable, is reporting that Bell is likely out for the game. The Steelers aren't saying that and that Bell could play, but that it would be through some pain. Bell, the NFL's second-leading rusher, had 59 yards on the ground and five catches for 48 yards in an early-season loss in Baltimore. In Pittsburgh's Nov. 2 home win over the Ravens he had just 20 yards rushing and five catches for 38 yards and a TD. The Steelers signed Ben Tate as insurance if Bell can't go. It's doubtful Tate would play much off the street. Rookie Josh Harris probably starts with fellow rookie Dri Archer also seeing more action. The Steelers are currently 3-point home favorites on NFL odds at Pinnacle Sports.

 

A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
You could have called Green the AFC's best receiver entering this season, but he had a disappointing year that was filled with injuries. Unfortunately for Bengals backers Green is now dealing with another one. He is in the NFL's concussion protocol this week after suffering a head injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday night's loss in Pittsburgh. Green was blasted by the Steelers' Mike Mitchell after losing a fumble with about four minutes remaining. The turnover helped set up the score that put the game away for the Steelers as they would score a touchdown four plays later to go up 27-17. Green finished the season with 69 catches for 1,041 yards and six TDs. Cincinnati is +4 for Sunday's game at Indianapolis. The Bengals lost 27-0 in Indy early this season in their worst offensive performance of the year. That was one of the games Green missed.

 

Eugene Monroe, OT, & Haloti Ngata, DT, Ravens
Monroe, the Ravens' left tackle who protects Joe Flacco's blind side, missed the Week 17 win over Cleveland with an ankle injury and is questionable to face the Steelers. If he can't go, rookie  James Hurst would start again. Monroe got a $37.5 million extension earlier this season and didn't play well at all. Monroe was rated the 119th-best tackle by Pro Football Focus. He committed a team-high nine penalties and allowed three sacks and 14 quarterback hurries despite missing five games to injury. Hurst, an undrafted free agent, didn't allow a sack or hurry in the season finale. Ngata, one of the best at his position in the NFL, isn't hurt but will return from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's drug policy. The Ravens went 3-1 in the five-time Pro Bowler's absence and allowed an average of 94.2 yards rushing per game (10th fewest in league).

 

Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
Sunday's wild-card matchup against Cincinnati could be the final game in the career of the 36-year-old Wayne, a likely future Hall of Famer, if the Colts lose. He really slowed down this year with 64 catches for 779 yards and two touchdowns. Wayne hurt his groin in Sunday's win over Tennessee but fully expects to play. Wayne has played the second half of this season with a partially-torn left triceps and expects to have surgery on it after the year. He will become a free agent. The Colts are -4 against the visiting Bengals on NFL odds. When Indy beat Cincinnati 27-0 earlier this year Wayne had four catches for 15 yards.

 

Henry Melton, DT, & Anthony Hitchens, LB, Cowboys
Things don't look good for Melton to suit up Sunday against visiting Detroit. Melton suffered a bone bruise on his right knee in the Week 17 win over Washington that caused him to miss the second half and it's likely going to cost him a few weeks. Melton played in every game this season and finished second on the team with five sacks. Hitchens, a rookie who has started 11 games this season, suffered a high-ankle sprain and he's questionable. Hitchens has 75 tackles and an interception this season. Dallas is the biggest favorite of wild-card weekend at -7 on NFL odds against the Lions.

 

Ndamukong Suh, DT, & Dominic Raiola, C, Lions
Neither Suh nor Raiola is hurt. Raiola will return for Sunday's game in Dallas after missing the Week 17 loss in Green Bay due to suspension for stomping on a player. Thus what Suh did in that Week 17 game to Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is totally idiotic as he was suspended a game for semi-stomping on the foot of Rodgers. Suh is appealing but with his track record it's unlikely it will succeed. Suh is easily the team's best defensive player and is great against the run and pass (8.5 sacks). It's a huge loss. With Suh on the field this season, the Lions have held opponents to 3.0 yards per rush. With Suh off the field, the Lions have allowed 3.8 yards per rush. Detroit is +7 at sportsbooks vs. Dallas.

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