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The best Saturday of the NFL season is here. To make it even better, see the injury analysis and use it to your advantage in DFS or wagering. The breakdowns today won’t count towards our traditional five games on Sunday which went a documented 50-30-5 against the morning lines for a +20 margin.
Buffalo the healthiest team in the playoffs
The Bills have only two players listed as questionable and both should play. Stefon Diggs has an oblique injury which he has already played well through. He is a lock to play and should be near 100%. We have had optimism all along that Cole Beasley would return to playoff action and that appears to be the case.
The Colts are in reasonable health. Expect they will be starting a fourth string left tackle, Jared Veldheeer, who was retired from football until last week. Anthony Costanzo had ankle surgery, backup Le’Raven Clark tore his Achilles. swing tackle Will Holden is out and the Colts went into the high school ranks to get their new starting left tackle to protect Philip Rivers (turf toe) on his blind side. To be fair, Veldheer is a bonafide NFL player who was retired and was helping coach East Grand Rapids High’s offensive line until he was coaxed out of retirement last week. He played reasonably well in Week 17 but can he do it again at playoff level?
I have a strong personal rooting interest for Rivers but I also know some on the Bills too and Buffalo seems to be the right side in terms of health.
Thumbs up for Goff
Despite the coy comment from Sean McVay, the Rams game will be decided when Jared Goff is throwing the ball. Yes, I believe that chances are good that Goff can return after thumb surgery as the injury is away from the base. He finished the Week 16 contest after the fracture/dislocation without even a splint or tape and he returned to limited practice today. It doesn’t concern me that John Wolford took the majority of first team reps. He needs them to be ready and Goff doesn’t. There may be some rust especially given that No. 1 receiver Cooper Kupp just came off the COVID list in time. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth should be back to protect Goff’s blind side. Cam Akers will be good to go but not Darrell Henderson, who is dealing with a high ankle sprain.
On the other hand, the Seahawks pass defense is the question mark. The normally optimistic Pete Carroll was not so positive that star safety Jamal Adams will be active but I believe he will and the player agrees with me. By video, he may have a labral tear which the hard-hitting defender can play through. There are recent health issues with the top 4 cornerbacks. No. 1 corner Shaquil Griffin is dealing with a hamstring issue and No. 2 Quenton Dunbar is out. Nos. 3 and 4 are just coming off injuries. In addition, defensive lineman Jarron Reed may have a tough time playing with his oblique muscle injury.
Expect a close matchup with the Rams being the healthier side with a chance to upset the division champs.
Alex Smith to remain limited
Most playoff teams are on the healthy side but of the teams in the playoffs, the Washington Football Team has a lot of issues. For the Buccaneers, it is about three players.
For Washington, they will need to ride with a less than 100% Alex Smith and his calf/leg issues. There is some rumor even that Taylor Heinicke may start. Smith was hampered in last week’s game and this week he got in even less practice and we have documented why it is especially hard for him.
Antonio Gibson will play through his turf toe and Terry McLaurin is improving from his ankle. All three are limited at practice. Defensively, both starting safeties are out for the season and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis is a question with an ankle issue and has been limited..
The talk is about Mike Evans but defensively Devin White (with the Saturday game) will not make it off the COVID protocol and it may be hard for No. 1 corner Carlton Davis to play through a groin issue but he is trending to play. Evans avoided an ACL tear but even if he can suit up, the bone bruise may limit him. The Bucs need to go further into the playoffs for Evans to contribute. It will be up to Tom Brady to use Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski to test the Washington secondary.
The overall health matchup favors the Bucs. My heart is with Smith but my wallet is with Tom Brady.
Enjoy the Saturday games. I will be watching and providing in game updates at www.profootballdoc.com. I may even tweet some in-game replays from the Nickelodeon feed of the second game, for which my kids are excited.