Sunday night is nearly upon us and the Buffalo Bills head to Missouri to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in a Week 5 showdown. This has been a highly anticipated meeting since last year’s AFC Championship that ended in a Bills loss. The big storylines besides Allen vs. Mahomes has been the injury report.
Last year, the Bills were significantly injured heading into each matchup with injuries to Josh Allen, John Brown, Jon Feliciano, Dawson Knox, Matt Milano, Tremaine Edmunds, Micah Hyde, and Zack Moss in the Week 6 matchup.
In the AFC Championship game, injuries to Cole Beasley, Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, Vernon Butler, and Tremaine Edmunds helped contribute to missing the trip to the Super Bowl.
While the Chiefs were not 100 percent healthy in either matchup, they certainly took advantage of each situation to secure the wins as the better team. Heading into the matchup, several injuries detailed below could make or break the game whether they suit up. Continue below to read every injury heading into the game.
LB Matt Milano (right hamstring)
Milano did not practice Wednesday and Thursday but was able to get out there Friday in pads and helmet in a limited capacity. According to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic, Milano suffered a right hamstring strain noted in his latest article. This would also be a re-injury from last season in the Week 1 win over the Jets.
While this is promising, this may be a smokescreen. Looking back at all the data in 2020, there were 22 instances of a hamstring designation on the injury report.
If a player had multiple DNP’s in a week, they did not play.
If they had a limited practice Friday, they did not play.
If they practiced in full on Friday, they played.
Looking back in 2019, there were six instances for the Bills according to Pro Football Reference where a player had a hamstring injury but listed questionable. Every player that had a questionable designation but played had missed at least one prior game with a hamstring injury.
The only exception is Robert Foster who had a limited practice, DNP, limited practice but played that week against the Cowboys.
A sample size of one.
The training staff does not have to be held to these prior decisions, but it’s hard not to consider understanding how they think and operate.
Also, consider that there is potentially inclement weather for Sunday night that if the field is slick, that could exacerbate the hamstring strain. The team has to look at the bigger picture when making these decisions whether to play.
I believe 100 percent that Milano wants to play, but the team will have to determine if he is healthy enough. They could limit his snaps like they did with his pectoral injury last year, but that takes away a roster spot from somewhere else such as the defensive line.
I detailed all this and more on my appearance on Locked On Bills, but I am standing in my belief that Milano will ultimately miss the game. The data, history, and season implications are there to support the decision.
If he plays, find me a person that will be more happy to be wrong than me.
RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring)
It’s been confirmed that Jones suffered a hamstring strain early in the second quarter of Sunday’s game. He did return to the game but eventually remained out later without a designation from the team.
Jones has an EXTENSIVE injury history and the same information just listed above for Milano applies to Jones. He is an excellent gunner, but he sits this one out.
DE AJ Epenesa (foot)
The only specifics we know of this foot injury is that it was suffered in practice Thursday. Without further details, it’s impossible to determine whether he plays Sunday.
OT Spencer Brown (left knee)
Brown appeared on the injury report Wednesday with an injury suffered in practice. He reportedly dinged it up in practice, but he later had a hinged knee brace on the left side.
It’s important to note he injured the same knee against the Bears in the preseason. The specifics of the injury are still not known.
G Jon Feliciano (concussion)
Feliciano has since cleared the concussion protocol on Friday according to reports. Whether he starts or not is another question we won’t find out until Sunday night.
CB Dane Jackson (knee)
Jackson appears on the injury report again with a knee injury. This follows a knee injury heading into Week 3 where he was questionable but played. It’s not clear if it’s the same injury, but something worth noting in case this becomes a recurring issue.
CB Taron Johnson (groin)
Johnson practiced in full this week after suffering a groin injury last week. He did have a groin injury last year and this year’s injury could pop up again, but his missing last week may have been more precautionary considering the weather and quality of opponent.
DE Efe Obada (ankle)
Obada practiced in full with the ankle injury sustained last week in practice. He ultimately did not play with Boogie Basham performing well in his place. If Epenesa does not suit up, Obada could find himself playing but he is clearly not a top option on the defensive line.
S Jordan Poyer (left ankle)
Poyer was limited all week with the left ankle injury that forced him out last week. My guess is that he would have played, but wasn’t needed. He went on record stating his ankle felt great and that he’s ready to play. He’s certainly needed in order to win this game.
DE Greg Rousseau (right toe)
Rousseau appeared on the injury report with a toe injury sustained sometime in Sunday’s game, though it isn’t clear when this occurred. Typically when I see a toe listed, it immediately goes to turf toe.
If that were the case, I’m not certain he would play. However, he did have his right ankle taped up well, suggesting that he may have some sort of turf toe plate or other rigid support in there. They would have to tape up the ankle area to keep the heel in the shoe and take pressure off the toes.
He doesn’t have an injury designation and he plays in a defensive rotation which means that he can limit stressing the current injury.
CB Tre’Davious White (shoulder)
White was a surprise addition to the injury report with a shoulder injury from Sunday’s game. It’s not clear what he injured or how, but the one possibility that the injury came from was when Texans TE Pharaoh Brown gave White a forearm shiver to the left shoulder when White came over the middle, dropping him to the turf. This occurred with 7:18 left in the first quarter.
If this is indeed a contusion, it’d make sense to rest White as he is a veteran and I’m willing to bet that shoulder is still sore. He doesn’t have a designation which means he’s ready to roll.
NOTABLE CHIEFS INJURIES
DE Frank Clark (hamstring)
He’s been dealing with hamstring injuries since mid August in training camp. He missed Week 1 coming off that injury, played Week 2 and then suffered another hamstring injury in practice on the other side, knocking him out of Week’s 3 and 4’s contests. He doesn’t have an injury designation heading into this game, but hamstring injuries to both sides are certainly not something to dismiss.
His snap count will be one to watch and if he exits early, this could be a benefit to Buffalo’s chances in winning.
DE Chris Jones (wrist)
He first appeared on the injury report with a wrist injury in Week 3. It was later revealed that he suffered the injury against the Ravens in Week 2. He has not missed a game yet, but he has been hampered by the wrist and not been able to practice all week.
It’s unclear what the specifics of the injury are, but I expect a heavy tape job along with bracing to allow him to engage his blockers and get into the backfield. If he is unable to shed his blockers effectively or get his hand on a running back or quarterback, that could be the difference between a broken play and a touchdown. Jones will still get his stats, but he may be slowed just enough to render him ineffective at times.
CB Charvarius Ward (quadricep)
Dealing with this since Week 3, Ward has been ruled questionable. He was able to get a limited practice on Friday following two full practices but is still likely not 100 percent. This appears to be a quadriceps strain which will make both backpedaling and sprinting difficult. He may play, but the injury may catch up to him in the second half.
LB Willie Gay Jr. (toe)
Gay returns to the 53-man roster following a toe injury suffered in the preseason finale that sent him to IR to start the season. He was out last year in the playoffs due to a knee injury and this year’s injury has certainly slowed him down. But he’s expected to return after being activated and could help shore up the Chiefs defense.
BUFFALO BILLS PROJECTED INACTIVES
OT Tommy Doyle
LB Matt Milano
RB Taiwan Jones
DT Harrison Phillips
DE Efe Obada
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS PROJECTED INACTIVES
WR Daurice Fountain
LB Darius Harris
OL Austin Blythe
OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
TE Jody Fortson
Right now, the Chiefs are favored anywhere from -2.5 to -3 heading into Sunday night. They have proven they are the better team despite their 2-2 record. This puts them in 4th place in the AFC West, but every other team in the division is 3-1 which makes that placement deceiving. The Chiefs are playing at home and have an advantage health wise compared to the Bills, but not by much.
The Chiefs are the superior team until the Bills can prove they can beat them. As a fan, I’d take the loss now if I knew that they could beat them in the playoffs, but every fan base would want that for their team. However, I do like the Bills chances, especially how well they have been playing since losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1.
It will be an exciting game to watch with major playoff implications on the line with the winner of this game in the driver’s seat for the number one seed and home-field advantage.
Top Photo Credit: Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images