Buffalo Bills Injury Preview Wild Card Playoffs- New England Patriots

This is the time of year that we all used to long for, that time of year that always eluded the Buffalo Bills

But ever since Sean McDermott was hired five years ago, the Bills have made the playoffs four out of five years and have two AFC East titles to his credit. They are the new standard of excellence in the AFC East but the New England Patriots are close behind, threatening to retake the crown they had for the last two decades.

For the first time in the Super Bowl era, the Bills and Patriots matchup in the playoffs in the ultimate rubber match following each team splitting in the regular season. The Bills come in as the healthier team, but despite the Patriots having multiple players on the injury report, they still pose a formidable threat with everything on the line. 

Below are all the latest injury updates for both the Bills and Patriots as they prepare to face off in the primetime Wild Card matchup.


WR Emmanuel Sanders (Right Knee)

Sanders is a full go for Saturday despite dealing with a right knee injury for the better part of a month originally suffered in the loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His injury has been relatively clouded in mystery in that he missed three out of the last four games with the only game he played in against the Patriots in Week 16.

On Thursday, Sean McDermott noted that Sanders could have played against the Jets, but they opted to give him an extra week to recover for the playoffs. 

I feel as though there may be more light shed on the injury in the offseason, but when he did play against the Patriots, he looked as healthy as he had all season. He likely had a setback from a possible muscle strain or something greater. He has a lot of postseason experience and could be a steady presence for the Bills as they look to make a deep playoff run.

DE Efe Obada (Ankle)

Obada missed last week with an ankle injury originally suffered in the win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 17. It wasn’t clear what the injury was or when it happened, but Obada also does not have a designation which means that he will be in the defensive end rotation, providing repeated and frequent pressure on Mac Jones throughout the game.



DL Christian Barmore (Right Knee)

Barmore required assistance to get off the field following a right knee injury while trying to chase down Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa with 1:58 left in the 4th quarter. He fell down before he got to Tagovailoa, unfortunately then colliding with Joejuan Williams. There was initial concern that he would miss the rest of the playoffs, but the MRI on his knee came back clean indicating no structural damage.

Based on the video, it seemed as though it was a painful contusion. He would be limited with pain and swelling due to the direct trauma, but if he gets that under control, he could possibly play. If he does suit up, he will have trouble generating power from his right leg as he attempts to drive into the backfield.

He may also struggle to work on lateral movements, especially pushing off to the left which could make run defense difficult if the running back gets through the right side of the line. He at least had a very positive progression during the week from what looked to be a serious injury, but I do question his effectiveness.

Patriots beat reporters noted that he hasn’t done much during the open portions of practice, but at this point in the season, it’s all about preservation and maximize healing. I expect he at least attempts to play through the injury.

DB Kyle Dugger (Hand)

Duggar has been limited all week with a hand injury originally suffered in the Jaguars game in Week 17. It’s not clear what the exact injury is or which side, but it appears probable that he plays due to the location of the injury.

He may have to play with a club that could limit interceptions and shedding blockers as noted by Andrew Callahan below, but his coverage and batting down passes can still be effective in the secondary.

Considering what he brings to the table defensively, he will be necessary to play to defend against Buffalo’s high-powered offensive game plan. 

RB Damien Harris (Hamstring)

Harris originally suffered his hamstring injury in the first Patriots-Bills game and has continued to play through the injury, only missing Weeks 14 and 15. 

While this is a considerable amount of time to be on the injury report with a hamstring injury, it’s not clear whether he has had any setbacks or if the team is just being cautious. 

What is worth noting is that if this hamstring injury is still lingering, this could limit his snap count for Saturday due to the cold. With temperatures being close to 0 degrees, the cold will tighten up the muscles and will require more effort to achieve similar results in warmer weather. This is the kind of game that is ripe for Harris to suffer a re-injury if he gets into the open field or if he tries to fight for extra yardage. 

The New York Jets saw WR Jamison Crowder leave the game due to his calf injury last week against the Bills and it was considerably warmer than it will be on Saturday. I expect there to be a timeshare in the backfield to prevent further injury.

OT Isaiah Wynn (Hip/Right Ankle)

Wynn exited Sunday’s game against the Dolphins late in the first quarter with a rather subtle ankle injury that didn’t initially require medical attention. On 1st and 10 with 4:34 left in the first quarter, on a short pass to Damien Harris for 5 yards, Wynn was caught from behind and rolled up on by Dolphins DE Jaelan Phillips. Wynn briefly stayed on the ground before getting up and finishing the offensive series.

Wynn later exited the game, not to return for the day, replaced by Justin Herron. By video, it looks as though Wynn suffered a high-ankle sprain with how his foot was planted and got hit from the outside, forcing the foot into eversion and dorsiflexion. These are unfortunately common but equally difficult to work through. 

He was unable to participate in practice Wednesday or Thursday which doesn’t bode well for playing Saturday. If he did attempt to play, he would have an incredibly difficult time maintaining his block, pushing guys to the outside, he would be a step slow. Even if he could maintain his guy outside, a spin move inside forcing him to put weight through his right ankle would beat him and often, leaving him as a liability. 

Even if the injury is mild, I don’t expect the ankle to respond to how he needs to play. He simply won’t have the mobility necessary to stay with his block and will lose a lot of lateral mobility and blocking power. I don’t believe he plays and if he does suit up, he is an emergency reserve option. Add in a hip injury that popped up on the injury report prior to Week 18, I don’t know that he can be effective.

Reports indicate that the team would move T Trent Brown to left tackle and bring up OL Mike Onwenu to right tackle to get through the game. This could be a prime opportunity for the Bills to take advantage of guys playing out of place. This may open the door for opportunities to create pressure and sacks, but I don’t expect the tackle position to become revolving doors on either side.

DB Cody Davis (Wrist)

Davis showed up on the injury report prior to Week 18 with a wrist injury that he ultimately played through, appearing in 76 percent of snaps. He was once again on the report with the same issue and considering he is a core special teamer, I fully expect him to play as he sees only 16-to-26 snaps a game this season. He may have trouble wrapping up his tackle on special teams, but he can still be quite effective using his body to create disruptions during the play.

S Adrian Phillips (Knee)

Phillips continues to show up on the injury report from the knee injury originally sustained late in the fourth quarter in the Week 13 game of the Bills. It wasn’t clear how he injured the knee at the time, but it hasn’t limited him since then, playing in what appears to be his normal snap count. This may be a lingering issue, but it won’t keep him out of this game. 

C David Andrews (Shoulder)

He has been on the injury report for at least half of the season with a shoulder injury, though he continues to play in nearly every snap. He missed a few snaps in the blowout win over the Jaguars and in the loss to the Dolphins, but I suspect he was pulled to rest him in both instances. He will play Saturday.

K Nick Folk (Left Knee)

Folk has been on the injury report every week since Week 4 with a left knee injury, he’s going to play. 

LB Dont’a Hightower (Knee)

Hightower was questionable heading into Week 17 with a knee injury, playing in only 30 percent of snaps and then missing Week 18. It’s not clear which side is affected or when he suffered the injury, but according to his known injury history, he has suffered quite a few knee injuries over the years including ACL and meniscus tears, knee sprains with several to his right side. 

He may be dealing with some arthritic issues that forced the team to rest him and manage his snap count to get through the remainder of the season. The cold won’t help the knee injury with regards to possible arthritis, but I don’t expect him to miss the game, especially not playing last week. 

WR Jakobi Meyers (Thigh)

Meyers has been dealing with a thigh injury since appearing to suffer the injury against the Bills in Week 16. He has been playing in most of the offensive snaps ranging anywhere from the high 70’s to 80’s in terms of percentages and I don’t expect that to change. If this is a contusion, getting hit in the cold will certainly hurt, but this is not a new injury and continues the trend of Patriot players lingering on the injury report.

LB Jamie Collins (Ankle)

Collins was a surprise addition to the injury report Wednesday that forced him to miss practice but return as a limited participant on Thursday, deeming him questionable for the game. He played in the second-most snaps of his season last week with 65 percent, suggesting that the ankle injury did not hinder him at the time. 

He is an older player, having been in the league since 2013 and any chance the team can get to rest their older players dealing with injuries, I’m sure they don’t hesitate. I fully expect he plays.

LB Lawrence Guy (Shoulder)

There is pretty much no information available for his injury other than he appeared to suffer the injury in Week 18. He appeared in a season-high 66 percent of snaps and there aren’t any reports on the play-by-play that he suffered the injury. There also isn’t anything from the team or beat reporters that I could find suggesting he required medical attention. He likely suits up Saturday.

LB Brandon King (Toe)

Like Guy’s injury, there isn’t much out there regarding the specificity of King’s toe injury, but he is an exclusive special teamer which means his snaps are generally limited. A toe injury usually suggests turf toe, though that is not confirmed. He will likely require an injection along with a shoe insert to provide stability to the area during sprinting, but this is not expected to have him miss the game. 


CB Jalen Mills/CB Shaun Wade

Mills continues to be on the COVID Reserve list after placing him there on Tuesday. His vaccination status is unknown but he will require two negative tests in order to be activated to play Saturday. Even if he does test negative, his conditioning may suffer and with the extremely cold weather, this may make things more difficult as the game progresses with regards to his endurance. We will need more updates from the team before it is decided whether he plays.

Update: neither Mills or Wade were activated by 4 pm Friday.


OT Bobby Hart

DE Boogie Basham

WR Marquez Stevenson

RB Matt Breida

TE Tommy Sweeney

Update: The Bills elevated DT Eli Ankou and LB Joe Giles-Harris. I expect both to be inactive for Saturday.


QB Jarrett Stidham

TE Devin Asiasi

OT Isaiah Wynn

RB JJ Taylor

Update: The Patriots elevated DB DeVante Busby, DB D’Angelo Ross, DL Daniel Ekuale, WR Kristian Wilkerson. Two are practice squad elevations and two are COVID replacements.

Writing these reports up each and every week, it is maddening how many players the Patriots put on their injury report. I can’t imagine trying to prepare for a game as an NFL coaching staff and looking at the injury report, not quite knowing who will play and who won’t. But the Patriots have had a lot of success despite all the injuries so whether they are cautious in reporting the injuries or this is gamesmanship, this is what they do.

Outside of Wynn who I do not think will play with maybe Barmore possibly being a game-time decision, this game may come down to who has the better game plan. The Bills have the clear advantage with guys not playing through a litany of injuries though there are players working through smaller issues that they are managing, like any other player in the NFL.

Bill Belichick shines in these moments with his defensive game plans stopping the opposing team’s best weapons and finding a way to control the clock. However, playing on the road in front of a full capacity crowd in frigid temperatures may be even too much to effectively execute the game plan especially with a rookie quarterback in Mac Jones who is not used to the cold.

I expect the score to be close with several possible lead changes throughout, but the Bills are favored by -4 as of Friday morning and I don’t expect that the Bills lose the game, though they may not cover the spread. I say this with extreme bias as a Bills fan, but the Bills have to take advantage of the home crowd, their health, and potent offense. 

This is a fun time to be a Bills fan, it’s time to embrace everything that the playoffs are and hopefully look forward to next week. For those going to the game for both fan bases, stay warm!

Top Photo Credit: Mark J Rebilas-USA Today Sports