ProFootballDoc: How Will Injuries Impact Super Bowl LV?

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Certainly, schemes and skill matter but injuries are the hidden delta for a football game. This year we used medical analysis based picks to a 50-30-5 documented record

Super Bowl LV has more injury issues than typical. Usually the healthier teams move on but in the Conference Championships this year, that was not the case. 

The Chiefs have the most injury issues in the big game. The public attention may be on Patrick Mahomes and his toe but the offensive line is the main issue to watch. 

Left tackle Eric Fisher’s Achilles tear in the last game leads to a three position shuffle. Mike Remmers filling in for the injured Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle flips to the left side. Right guard Andrew Wylie already filling in for Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff who opted out due to COVID now slides to right tackle. Stefen Wisniewski was cut by the Steelers in November and now is slotted at right guard. Left guard Keleche Osemele, out since early season with tendon tears in both knees, was initially replaced by Remmers before he moved to replace Schwartz. The center position is the only one unaffected. Going across the O line left to right you have: 2nd string, 3rd string, starter, 3rd string, 3rd string.

The key to this game will be how the Chiefs handle the Bucs up front. Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett disrupted the Packers and sacked Aaron Rodgers five times to make the difference to get to the Super Bowl. Now Vita Vea will be even healthier coming off his October ankle fracture dislocation. 

Mahomes toe will be fine with a carbon fiber insert and a pregame injection. Clyde Edwards-Helaire should be near full healthy, Sammy Watkins should play with the calf but his effectiveness is in question. Linebacker Willie Gay is out after meniscus surgery.

The talk about the Bucs is Antonio Brown. He should play with the knee but with so many Bucs targets, he may not get many chances with his missed practice reps. The big key for Tampa Bay is their safeties. Antoine Winfield Jr. will return to play with his ankle. By video, Jordan Whitehead tore his left pec tendon and is likely to need surgery after the Super Bowl. My belief is the free safety is still trying to play. He will be able to cover and defend passes but his ability to wrap and tackle on his left side will be limited. Ronald Jones should be healthy.

For my prop picks go to yesterday’s article

No question that based on overall weapons, I like the Chiefs but the O line issue will be key. My preference would be to wait to wager in game. Watch how Kansas City handles the Bucs D line in the first drive and then jump in.

To me, the outcome for the side and total are likely paired. If you like the Chiefs, you have to think the O line will be OK with the ball out of Mahomes’ hand quickly which means a high scoring game. If you like the Bucs, you have to think the D line will be too disruptive against patchwork blocking. 

I think Tom Brady will lead the Bucs to score in the high twenties. I don’t think they can chase KC into the thirties. The question is can Tampa hold the Chiefs offense to the twenties to pull off the victory. Think about parlaying KC/over or Bucs/under depending on what you like.

Push come to shove, I think the Chiefs know their blocking deficiencies and will be creative to neutralize that disadvantage. In the end, do you want to side with the GOAT Michael Jordan in his final years (Brady) or young LeBron James at the top of his physical talents (Mahomes)?

Written by Dr. David Chao

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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