It feels like everything is on the line for this game. Despite it being a divisional playoff game, this game appears bigger than that. The team that stopped the Buffalo Bills from a Super Bowl berth, the Kansas City Chiefs, is in the way once again.
Vanquishing them back in Week 5 in their house helps give confidence that it can be done again, but the stakes are higher. The winner goes on for the right to play for the AFC crown. The loser begins draft preparations and efforts to scale the mountain again.
One advantage is that the Buffalo Bills’ injury concerns are minimal with only one player that does not have an injury designation for Sunday. Conversely, the Kansas City Chiefs have seven players with two questionable designations.
Overall, these two teams are about as close to healthy as they can be heading into the playoff matchup which should make for a fantastic game.
Below are the full details regarding the Buffalo Bills injury report and Kansas City injury report to Sunday’s kickoff.
BUFFALO BILLS INJURY REPORT
DE Mario Addison (Right Shoulder)
Addison has been limited all week with a right shoulder injury originally suffered midway through the third quarter of the Wild Card game. He has been limited during the week which was expected. Officially has no injury designation heading into the game.
I had hoped he suffered an AC joint sprain, but it’s more likely that he suffered a subluxation/dislocation of the shoulder based on how he fell. He landed more with his arm outstretched which could have jammed the head of his humerus up and behind, tearing the labrum which keeps the shoulder in the socket.
The key thing I initially missed was how they were mobilizing the shoulder on the field, working the shoulder into external rotation. This motion is meant to help relocate the shoulder joint rather than forcing it back into place. You can go to the 5:22 mark to look at how the technique is performed.
Addison can play through the injury, but the big concern is the stability within the joint. He could wear a shoulder harness to provide additional support to the area, but he will be lacking strength especially when moving his arm away from his body. He’ll be able to engage his blocks but as soon as he tries to shed his block with his right arm, he’ll struggle to create leverage to push away.
Tackling may be an issue if he gets only his right hand on someone; textbook tackling will be key for him to finish the job. Even then, that direct blow to the right shoulder could cause further injury to the area, but if he leads with his left, then he can compensate that way.
The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia outlined how important Addison is to the defense despite being in a backup role behind Jerry Hughes.
It’s also important to note that he played through a torn labrum during the Carolina Panthers’ 2015 Super Bowl run. He was injured in Week 6, missed the next game, and then continued to play throughout the season before getting surgery in the offseason. While this was six years ago, he still has familiarity playing through the injury and understands his limitations.
Considering his age, what he can still do from a pressure standpoint at the defensive end position, and the fact that it’s a playoff game, it doesn’t surprise me that he’s playing. I expect to see him in a reduced snap role, but still in on key plays.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS INJURY REPORT
RB Darrel Williams (Left Toe)
Williams did not practice Wednesday and Thursday due to a toe injury suffered in the Week 18 win over the Denver Broncos. He was limited Friday and given a questionable designation heading into the game.
Looking at the toe injury, this occurred on the last play of the game when he caught a 17-yard pass where he was shoestring tackled by DE Bradley Chubb. Williams left foot was caught in the turf as Chubb fell on his heel. Based on that mechanism, it appears as though he suffered turf toe. Andy Reid noted that it was an injury to the great toe which is the big toe in anatomical terms.
Even with an insert and taping, he may still struggle to generate an effective push off the left foot. He would also struggle to accelerate out of the backfield, reducing his ability to cut and push off to the right.
He played last week against the Steelers, though it was only for 8 snaps resulting in one carry for four yards. With an extra week of rest and rehab, it would stand to reason he could suit up. However, with the emergence of RB Jerick McKinnon last week, Williams may have his role reduced. Having a limited practice Friday gives him a shot at playing, but I would think the Chiefs would want to maximize positional depth elsewhere.
CB Rashad Fenton (Back)
Fenton did not practice all week following a pre-game injury to his back prior to the Steelers game. Whether this was a muscle strain that was aggravated in warmups or a pre-existing back injury that wasn’t on the report, it’s enough to keep him out of the Wild Card round and potentially this game as well.
Traditionally from what Andy Reid has done is if a player doesn’t practice, he doesn’t play and this may be the case for Fenton. Looking at his injury history, he doesn’t show to have any prior games missed due to back injuries. I don’t see how he plays and if he does, I highly doubt he will be effective.
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Left Shoulder AC Joint Sprain)
Edwards-Helaire missed the last three games following a left shoulder injury sustained in Week 16. While he does not have an injury designation, he is still likely not 100 percent. A quick reminder, an AC joint sprain occurs where there is a lateral direct blow to the shoulder. Typically, this is the result of a big hit resulting in instability between the acromion of the shoulder and the clavicle.
While he has had three weeks to recover, there is still a concern for ball security. Carrying on the left side, the opportunity to fumble is there if he gets hit or if they punch the ball out. He will likely require an injection to manage the pain and potential bracing which could limit his range of motion and pass-catching abilities.
It appears to be the lead back but could split carries with RB Jerick McKinnon to keep both fresh. If you recall, he exited the Week 5 matchup against the Bills due to an MCL sprain. A limited CEH can only help the Bills secure a victory.
WR Tyreek Hill (Heel)
Hill is continuing to work through a heel issue aggravated in pregame warmups ahead of the Week 18 matchup against the Denver Broncos. He only appeared in 18 percent of snaps in Week 18 but rebounded to a more normal workload of 77 percent in the playoffs.
Based on the heel designation, it’s quite possible he is working through plantar fasciitis. He has had heel issues back in 2018 but did not force him to miss any games. The team didn’t designate it as an injury but appears to have potentially irritated thins which could support the plantar fasciitis theory.
CB L’Jarius Sneed (Knee)
There isn’t a lot of information regarding the injury other than several other instances of knee injuries including Week 11. The injury cropped up again prior to Week 18 and the Wild Card game this season. It’s important to note that in Week 18, he played in 93 percent of snaps, and in the Wild Card game, 91 percent of snaps. Based on the availability, this injury may be a nuisance, but shouldn’t drastically affect his play.
LB Anthony Hitchens (Back)
Hitchens appeared on the injury report Thursday with a back ailment that limited him the two remaining days this week. He does not have an injury designation, but this looks to be a new issue as he has not appeared on the injury report with a back injury recently.
T Prince Tega Wanogho (Rib)
Tega Wanogho also appeared Thursday with a rib injury, he has not been on the report recently. There also are not any details regarding this injury. With a rib block and possible padding, he can still perform effectively.
BUFFALO BILLS PROJECTED INACTIVES
WR Marquez Stevenson
RB Matt Breida
OT Bobby Hart
TE Tommy Sweeney
DE AJ Epenesa
*Two practice squad players
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS PROJECTED INACTIVES
RB Darrel Williams
CB Rashad Fenton
QB Shane Buechele
DE Joshua Kaindoh
OT Prince Tega Wanogho
*Two practice squad players
The Buffalo Bills injury issues or lack thereof could be the difference-maker in who wins this game. Looking back at last year’s matchups, the Bills injury report in the AFC Championship game showed that Gabriel Davis (ankle), Stefon Diggs (Oblique), Cole Beasley (Fibular fracture), Vernon Butler (Quadricep), Tremaine Edmunds (Hamstring) were all key contributors dealing with injuries along with several others on the Bills injury report.
The Chiefs had Patrick Mahomes (Concussion/Toe), Sammy Watkins (Calf), Willie Gay (Ankle), Bashaud Breeland (Concussion/Shoulder), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Ankle/Hip), Rashad Fenton (Foot), and Le’Veon Bell (Knee) all dealing with injuries. The difference is that they had been there before and could overcome several of those injuries.
The Bills have the horses to match up well against the Chiefs this time; it may come down to who has the better game plan. The Bills do have the advantage of knowing they have beaten them before, though this doesn’t guarantee victory.
I liken this matchup to wrestling. There were opponents and teammates throughout the years that just had that guy’s number. No matter how many times they matched up, the opponent always won. That’s how it felt playing the New England Patriots all those years. But after matching up so many times, you began to figure out your opponent. Eventually, they broke through with that sense of invincibility lost by the opponent.
After that initial win, the tables began to turn and the wins became more frequent, the scores became more lopsided. The once invincible opponent was beatable. That is how the New England Patriots feel now after winning four out of the last five times.
This is the same hope I have for playing the Chiefs this weekend. The Bills have beaten them convincingly last time. The team knows it can be done again when they control the game. The line is currently -2 for the Chiefs according to Caesars, but this will likely be a one-score game.
This is going to come down to who is healthier and who has the better game plan. The Bills’ injury issues are minor and they have developed excellent game plans before. There’s a reason this is the final divisional game this weekend; it has the potential for fireworks.
A lot is on the line Sunday, but would you want it any other way?