After an ugly, ugly loss in Week 9, the Buffalo Bills go back on the road to face the New York Jets looking to right the ship. The Bills go to face a Jets team that has lost starters at multiple positions and at times lack an identity under first year head coach Robert Saleh.
Both teams are dealing with multiple injuries, though the Jets have been hit hardest by the season-ending variety. Availability will be a key contributor in winning this game even though there is a clear difference in the talent levels of each team.
For the Bills, this is a must-win game as the matchup will help determine the AFC East crown and assist with seeding when playoffs come as there is a major logjam of 11 teams at 5-4 or better right now according to Joe Marino of Locked on Bills.
Below are the injuries for both the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.
BUFFALO BILLS INJURIES
LB Tremaine Edmunds (Hamstring)
Edmunds will miss his first game of the season following a hamstring strain suffered in Week 9. He played in 100 percent of the defensive snaps and did not appear limited into the 4th quarter.
It’s not clear when he injured the hamstring which makes identifying a timeline to return more difficult. Ideally, this was hamstring tightness/soreness and he is being rested as a precaution. AJ Klein will step up in his place and Tyrel Dodson will also see time as needed.
Edmunds suffered a hamstring strain in the playoffs during the Wild Card round and played through it last year, though any type of injury is played through if possible in that instance. Hopefully he will be able to return to practice next week as they prepare for the Indianapolis Colts.
RB Zack Moss (Concussion)
Moss is still in the concussion protocol as of Saturday morning and is questionable heading into the game. This is Moss’ first known concussion and each concussion is unique in how each player recovers.
As he was limited Thursday and Friday, it didn’t appear as though he would be cleared. However, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic reported that Moss was not in a non-contact jersey Friday which is a good sign for to indicate that he is in stage 5 of the protocol. He can still be tested and cleared on Saturday and based on that information, he appears on track.
Update: Moss has cleared concussion protocol.
WR Cole Beasley (Left-Side Ribs)
Beasley did not receive a gameday designation after being questionable last week with left-sided rib injuries suffered in Week 8. He was clearly limited last week leading the team in receptions but lacking in yards after the catch.
While I believe that Beasley can play and he wants to, I wouldn’t mind if he reduces his snaps and allows Isaiah McKenzie to get some playing time. Beasley needs to get healthy for later this season and especially with 3 games within the next 12 days, this should be the move.
OT Spencer Brown (Back)
Brown finally returned to practice after missing the last two games with a back injury while training following the bye.
We won’t get any details regarding the specifics of the injury until after the season at the earliest, if at all. But his back injury is likely still not 100 percent, but well enough to suit up.
Ideally we don’t hear about the back injury again this season, but it will certainly be something to watch moving forward.
S Jaquan Johnson (Hamstring)
Johnson was limited Wednesday and Thursday before practicing in full Friday and not given a gameday designation. There is some concern re-injuring the hamstring on special teams again, but hopefully this is a minor issue that doesn’t persist.
CB Taron Johnson (Concussion)
Johnson cleared concussion protocol Friday which is promising considering he suffered the injury Sunday. The team did sign Cam Lewis as depth but Lewis has shown the ability to play and perform to earn the roster position.
TE Dawson Knox (Right-Hand Fracture)
Knox finally makes his return to the field following his metacarpal fracture suffered in Week 6 against the Titans. I had thought that he would have returned sooner, but the team elected to give him extra time to ensure he was not going to have issues catching the ball.
I also expect that he will have some padding under his glove to help protect the area from further hits and when he catches the ball.
I don’t believe he will get a ton of targets, but I expect the targets he does receive he is able to haul catches in for first downs and touchdowns.
DT Justin Zimmer (Torn ACL)
Zimmer suffered an ACL tear during Wednesday’s practice with the news that he would require season-ending surgery Thursday. On Friday, the details were announced that he had torn his ACL. Cam Lewis was signed to the active roster in his place.
It is not known if he has any associated damage which could affect his recovery, but based on traditional rehab timelines, he may be ready for training camp in 2022. The big issue will be whether the team wants to bring him back, especially coming off injury. There is concern that he will be a step slower like we saw with his teammate Harrison Phillips following his 2019 ACL tear.
If Zimmer works as hard as he does at rehab as he plays on the field, I expect him to come back and at least find a home in the NFL in 2022. I wouldn’t mind seeing him come back to the Bills in his current role.
NEW YORK JETS INJURIES
QB Zack Wilson (Right PCL Sprain)
Wilson continues to work back from his PCL sprain suffered in Week 7 and it is expected that the team will slow play his return until he is 100 percent. He is best being inactive before he returns to starting under center. Mike White is expected to start again for the Jets. While this does put the Jets at what I believe is a competitive disadvantage, this is the right move from a health standpoint to ensure that their investment in Wilson will pay off.
I don’t believe anyone wants to see a repeat of former number two overall pick Robert Griffin III and how the Washington Football Team handled his injuries in 2012. To recap, Griffin suffered the same injury as Wilson in Week 14 and then came back for the Wild Card round against the Seahawks. He was initially not cleared by the team doctor but played anyway, later injuring the knee further including tearing his ACL.
This led to a host of other injuries the next several seasons, bouncing around the league, never able to recapture what he did his rookie year. While this is an extreme case, the similarities between Wilson and RG3 are striking and the Jets can’t afford any further setbacks to what they hope to be is their franchise quarterback.
OT Chuma Edoga (Knee)
The details of Edoga’s knee injury are not apparent, but it is worth noting he had a knee scope in training camp. It’s not clear that this is the same knee, but I have a feeling that this is the same knee. He has not missed any time since the start of the season since the scope from what I have found, but the original injury was a lingering one. It appears that it may still be an issue right now.
As he is listed doubtful, I don’t see how he plays especially if he is having setbacks from the knee scope or if this is a new injury.
RB Tevin Coleman (Hamstring)
Coleman continues to work back from a hamstring strain suffered in practice prior to Week 7 and has missed the last 3 games as a result.
He was practicing this week in full on Friday which indicates that he is moving in the right direction towards playing Sunday. Saleh also expects that he will suit up on Sunday.
WR Corey Davis (Hip)
Davis has been working through a hip flexor injury suffered in practice prior to Week 8. Having this type of injury would make running very difficult initially as he would be unable to bend at the hip to move the leg forward during sprinting, limiting his ability to run crisp routes and accelerate.
He also practiced in full Friday which would be a good sign that he will play Sunday.
DE Shaq Lawson (Hamstring)
Lawson, the former Buffalo Bill, is working through a hamstring injury suffered during the game in Week 9. He has had prior hamstring injuries including a hamstring injury in 2018 that cost him two games early in the season and one in 2019 just prior to the playoffs. He had actually injured the hamstring in 2019 against the Patriots celebrating a tackle for loss in the 4th quarter.
I don’t believe these injuries are related, but worth noting history and patterns if it is available. This is a fresher injury which makes the chance to re-injure it higher, but he did practice in full on Friday which indicates that he will likely play Sunday. Robert Saleh also expects that he will play, but Lawson will be one to watch if he exits early or struggles coming off the edge
OT Alijah Vera-Tucker (Toe)
Tucker has been working through a toe injury that first showed up on the injury report this week. Typically when I see a toe injury, I think turf toe. However, he was able to practice every day in some fashion and was a full participant Friday, indicating this may not be the case.
There isn’t a lot of information out there regarding the injury, but even if it is a mild sprain, they can tape the area and put a support in the shoe. Considering how beat up the offensive line is, Vera-Tucker has no choice but to suit up and play.
BUFFALO BILLS PROJECTED INACTIVES
LB Tremaine Edmunds
OT Tommy Doyle
DE Boogie Basham
DE Efe Obada
RB Matt Breida
COVID practice squad call-ups: QB Davis Webb and LB Joe Giles-Harris.
NEW YORK JETS PROJECTED INACTIVES
QB Zack Wilson
OT Chuma Edoga
DL Jonathan Marshall
According to reports, the Jets have two COVID call ups after CB Jason Pinnock and WR Denzel Mims tested positive. OL Conor McDermott has been designated to return to practice after being on injured reserve since Week 1 with a knee injury. P Braden Mann is expected to be activated off injured reserve following a knee injury. DL Kyle Phillips is also eligible to come off the PUP list with an ankle injury. This leaves a lot of possibilities for roster management that can be difficult to predict.
The team also has 14 guys on injured reserve or PUP which further stress the current depth of the team.
The Bills are the more talented team and appear to be healthier coming into this game. Buffalo has to go in and take care of business against a backup quarterback in Mike White and depth players starting all over the roster. The Bills are favored -12.5 despite last week’s abomination of a football game and have the opportunity to lay the hammer on a familiar foe.
With the tight schedule over the next few weeks heading into Thanksgiving, the hope is that the Bills continue to avoid major injury and get key contributors healthy for the final stretch heading into December. Go in, secure the win, and exit without major issues.
Top Photo Credit: Ron Schwane/AP