Our NFL handicapping professional take an early look at the opening NFL odds for this upcoming weekend’s playoff matchups. He also touches upon some injury issues.
NFL Key Injuries from Wild Card Weekend
The Kansas City Chiefs have injuries to their top three pass rushers, bad news against Tom Brady! Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Dee Ford are all ailing, but all three are likely to suit up on Saturday. But their top deep threat, WR Jeremy Maclin, suffered a high ankle sprain in the win over Houston. Even if Maclin suits up in Foxboro, he’s not likely to be his explosive self. KC also lost starting offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to a concussion, joining starting center Mitch Morse in concussion protocol moving forward. If that duo doesn’t suit up this weekend, it’s going to have a major effect on Kansas City’s chances of victory against the Patriots.
The Green Bay Packers suffered a couple of key injuries on Sunday, but, in general, they are getting healthier. Key offensive lineman Brian Bulaga was healthy enough to go against Washington, and his counterpart at the other tackle spot, David Bakhtiari could be back on the field this Saturday at Arizona. Both guys missed the Week 16 matchup against the Cardinals and Aaron Rodgers took eight sacks as a result!
The Packers won on Sunday without starting CB Sam Shields, still in concussion protocol. There’s a decent chance Shields could be back on the field this week. But WR Davante Adams went down with a knee injury on Sunday. Although he avoided surgery, his status for Saturday’s game at Arizona is very questionable, potentially leaving Rodgers without one of his better targets for the rematch against the Cards.
The Seattle Seahawks late season resurgence has come entirely without RB Marshawn Lynch on the field. They went 3-4 SU in the seven games that Lynch was healthy enough to play in. I don’t think he moves the needle one iota – not even worth a half point to the spread, or to the eventual result. But Lynch is a ‘superstar’ and his status moving forward is likely to affect the pointspread, at least a little bit, as he tries to recover from an abdominal injury that has kept him sidelined for the last two months.
That being said, the Seahawks came out of Sunday’s game at Minnesota virtually unscathed. The only new player on their injury report Monday morning was the punter, Jon Ryan, who had his nose bloodied but was still fine to finish the game against the Vikings. I’d be very surprised if Ryan wasn’t good to go at Carolina.
The Pittsburgh Steelers injury concerns are very real as they get ready for the Broncos. Ben Roethlisberger’s got a bum shoulder – one notable report listed it as a separated shoulder -- but early reports indicate that he’s likely to suit up. WR Antonio Brown needs to go through concussion protocol before he’ll be allowed to play, although early week signs look good in that regard. And even with cluster injuries at running back, it was a non-factor on Sunday, with Jordan Todman and Fitz Toussaint filling the void effectively. That being said, other than the skill position question marks, Pittsburgh is at near full health in the trenches (center Maurkice Pouncey has been out since October) and on the defensive side of the football.