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ProFootballDoc: Injury Advantages/Breakdowns for Sunday NFL Wild Card Games

The best weekend of NFL football continues today. Three more games Sunday after three games Saturday. Based on injury/health we chose all three winners Saturday picking two favorites and the one underdog winner but they did not all cover the lines.

The three matchups today have a clear mismatch as the Browns have the only “C” grade of the weekend. Here are the three games for Sunday:

Ravens versus Titans are well matched

The first Wild Card Sunday playoff game features a matchup of two of the healthier teams. Baltimore and Tennessee both lost their stud left tackle earlier this season but have adjusted nicely. Both squads are also missing their slot wideouts although Willie Snead could return from his ankle injury.

The Ravens are getting healthy at the right time as key defenders Calais Campbell and Marcus Peters have both recently recovered from calf issues. The Titans have gotten past the loss of linebackers Jadeveon Clowney and Jayon Brown and played well the last couple weeks. There is no clear health advantage and both defenses have small advantages over the offenses. With the high total at 54.5 and strong run games, I lean toward the under and given the tight game, I would take the Titans along with the 3 points.

Saints healthier than Bears

The Saints are getting healthy at the right time and the Bears are among the more injured playoff participants.

New Orleans, offensively, will welcome the return of a healthy and productive Michael Thomas from his three-week IR stint due to a lingering high ankle sprain. Since the game is being played on Sunday allows Alvin Kamara can come off the COVID-19 list to play. Drew Brees’ chest/rib issues are behind him as well as the Saints head into Wild Card weekend. Defensively it will be key to having Sheldon Rankins and Marcus Williams back. The main injury is still Kwon Alexander who is done for the season due to an Achilles rupture and now pass rusher Trey Hendrickson is out with a neck issue.

The Bears will miss two starting offensive linemen and wideout Darnell Mooney. Allen Robinson has been given some extra rest due to his hamstring injury but expect him to play and be effective. Defensively, Roquan Smith is out after an elbow dislocation last week while corner Jaylon Johnson is trying to return with a shoulder issue.

The overall health advantage goes to the Saints here and there could be some points put on the board.

No wiggle room for Browns-Steelers

Conspiracy theorists would say whoever is playing Pittsburgh is the team that will have COVID-19 troubles. The Ravens and Titans, both had multiple positive tests before playing the Steelers and now the Browns just had 7 players/staff excluded from the playoff game including their head coach. The game will go as scheduled unless there is demonstrated active spread in Cleveland. In the end, there is little wiggle room for rescheduling come the playoffs.

The Browns already started as the less healthy team with pass defense issues given the corners being out and main pass rusher Olivier Vernon having just torn his Achilles this past Sunday. Now they lose offensive starters Joe Bitonio and KhaDarel Hodge. Cleveland will have Jarvis Landry but they could miss their next three wide receivers with Hodge out, Odell Beckham is already out due to a torn ACL earlier in the season and Donovan Peoples-Jones status is in question and he has yet to practice. The Browns are missing their top two corners and the next three are also dealing with issues. The other problem is the Browns did not practice for most of this week due to COVID precautions.

The Browns left it all out on the field to win to get in the playoffs as the Steelers rested key starters and showed little of their playbook. Pittsburgh still has chronic linebacker issues but Robert Spillane has been activated off IR which should help some. This matchup comes with all the advantages including home-field advantage and the current line sits at -6.5 but started at -3.5 when we started saying Steelers a week ago.

As always, go to www.profootballdoc.com for the full analysis including DFS suggestions based on injury advantages.

Written by Pro Football Doc

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

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