The Buffalo Bills are 5-1 coming off an extremely well-timed bye and are looking to host the Green Bay Packers in a Week 8 showdown on Sunday Night Football.
Both teams come in with a variety of injuries that have at times affected the win-loss column and should be no different this week. The Bills are getting healthier after having double-digit players on the injury report the past few weeks while the Packers have several key injuries on the offensive line that could impact how effective Aaron Rodgers can be.
Below is the full injury breakdown for the Week 8 matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers along with inactives and Banged Up Bills Best Bet.
BUFFALO BILLS INJURIES
RT Spencer Brown (Right ankle sprain)
Brown did not practice Wednesday or Thursday after suffering a right ankle sprain against the Chiefs in Week 6. By his own words, he had a bad sprain and was in a walking boot after the game.
While this appears to be a low ankle sprain, they still take some time to get fully recovered. Considering the position he plays at right tackle, he will need a quick step on the right side to keep his assignment outside. If his assignment moves inside, he will need to push off the right side to keep in front of his block.
Brown has already been struggling at times this season and having an injured ankle may allow for pressure to creep into the pocket. The Bills have plenty of depth available to them, give Brown another week to recover. Look for David Quessenbery to get the start this Sunday.
RB Taiwan Jones (Right knee)
Jones is once again back on the injury report with a knee designation prior to Week 6 against the Chiefs. At the time, he had kinesiotape on his left knee performing karaoke.
However, while biking on the Peloton, he had his right knee taped up with some black object on the outside portion of his knee as seen below.
Jones has had his share of knee injuries over the years and with him being a veteran, he is likely feeling the miles on his body. This appears to be a maintenance issue and he looks to be ready to play Sunday.
WR Jake Kumerow (Left high-ankle sprain)
Kumerow returned to practice this week after missing the last month of football due to a left high-ankle sprain against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3.
The ankle should be mostly healed and he should be able to produce on special teams. He may also get involved in the offense as needed against his former team, but I would expect that the Bills limit his snaps to avoid re-injury or ramp him back up too quickly.
CB Cam Lewis (Right forearm)
Lewis continues to show up on the injury report with a right forearm issue due to a chronic bone infection from an injury in college. He wears a protective brace over the area and is available to play as needed.
GREEN BAY PACKERS INJURIES
WR Allen Lazard (Left shoulder AC Sprain)
Lazard caught a pass over the middle for a 17-yard gain on the last play of the third quarter before landing hard on his left shoulder, not to return. He was designated as having a shoulder injury and was later seen in a sling on the left arm.
By video, this appears to be an AC joint sprain, an unfortunately common injury in football. He did not practice this week and has been ruled out for Sunday. He later discussed how his shoulder felt at the moment it was injured below.
CB Jean-Charles Shemar (Ankle)
Shemar appeared on the injury report for the first time this week and outside of the body part, it’s unknown when the injury occurred or how severe the issue is at this time.
LB Rashan Gary (Concussion)
Gary left after a hit to Commanders QB Taylor Heineke in the third quarter, later requiring an assessment in the locker room, ending his day.
According to practice reports, Gary was officially a DNP on Wednesday but was participating in team stretches, indicating that he is advancing through the concussion protocol. Based on the stretching, he is at least in Stage 2 of the protocol. He was able to get into pads on Thursday, suggesting he was in at least Stage 3 with participating in football activities.
He did practice in full on Friday suggesting that he was in Stage 5 and needs clearance from the independent neurologist to be cleared.
Gary has also been working through a toe injury prior to the concussion, though it appears to not be an issue this week.
LT David Bakhtiari (Left knee)
Bakhtiari continues to work through his left knee problems that date back to his left ACL tear at the end of the 2020 season. He did return briefly in 2021 in the last game against the Detroit Lions, but the bulk of his playing time has come this year. Bakhtiari has had two other procedures on his knee since the original ACL repair which has slowed his recovery.
He missed the first two games of the season and last week with a knee designation. It’s also worth noting that he is still not back to full form after comments made by his teammate and backup Zach Tom below.
It’s also highly interesting that practicing for three days straight aggravated the knee so much that he overdid it. While you want to save your best for game day, overstressing the area during practice is concerning that things are being held together by rubber bands and paper clips.
You’re paying Bakhtiari a lot of money to play, and you want to get him out there, but he is still clearly not 100 percent. While ACL repairs seem automatic with regard to surgery and rehab, he is in a case where his rehab has not been linear. Getting an extra week to rest will only help him play Sunday night, but considering he plays left tackle dealing with a left knee issue, this leaves him vulnerable. His left knee makes the lateral movement outside and pushing off the leg when moving to the right difficult. He may be a better option than Zach Tom, but still, this will be an area where the Buffalo defense has to provide a ton of pressure.
WR Christian Watson (Hamstring)
Watson has missed the last two games due to a hamstring strain originally suffered in Week 5. He was able to practice all week, slowly ramping up his workload.
G Elgton Jenkins (Left knee)
Jenkins continues to work back from his own ACL tear suffered late last year in Week 11, later having surgery in January. While he does play guard, he has been forced to play right guard to take pressure off his still-recovering left knee. According to reports, the plan has been to move Jenkins back to left guard, but due to the Bakhtiari situation, they can’t move Jenkins over there and make the whole left side of the line weak.
Prior to the injury, Jenkins was the starting left tackle in place of Bakhtiari, playing at a decent level. Jenkins won’t be a pushover, but he is also still not fully healthy.
QB Aaron Rodgers (Right thumb)
Rodgers originally injured his thumb on a Hail Mary attempt in Week 5 against the New York Giants. He has played the last two games with tape on his thumb to give it support and Rodgers has downplayed the injury when speaking to the media.
Based on this report, his injury could be blamed more on his offensive line rather than his thumb issue. He may have some minor issues in gripping the ball, but he is going to be nearly three weeks removed from the injury and has not practiced on Wednesdays for the past several weeks.
The injury isn’t totally a non-factor, but the Bills will have more success exploiting the holes in his offensive line than hoping Rodgers makes an errant throw. His numbers have been on par with the rest of the season and he has not thrown any interceptions because of this. He has fumbled four times in the past three games, but this may be more due to pressure than the inability to grip the football.
Despite a three-game losing streak, there is no way to count out Rodgers at any point in a game or season.
WR Sammy Watkins (Hamstring)
Watkins is coming off a hamstring injury that sent him to injured reserve following a hamstring injury in practice prior to Week 3. He was able to return in Week 7 after serving his minimum 4-game stint and played in 52 percent of snaps last week.
The Packers are wise in limiting his workload during practice this week so as not to cause a setback. This will be Watkins’s first game back in Buffalo since being traded in 2017.
WR Randall Cobb (Left high-ankle sprain)
Cobb is currently on injured reserve due to a left high-ankle sprain suffered in Week 6. He will be eligible to return in Week 10, meaning he will miss the Week 8 contest against the Bills.
OL Jake Hanson (Biceps)
Hanson suffered a biceps injury in Week 6 against the Jets and was placed on injured reserve the Saturday prior to Week 7.
BUFFALO BILLS PROJECTED INACTIVES
OT Spencer Brown
LB Baylon Spector
TE Tommy Sweeney
DT Brandin Bryant
OL Justin Murray
GREEN BAY PACKERS PROJECTED INACTIVES
DL Jonathan Ford
OT Luke Tenuta
OLB Jonathan Garvin
WR Allen Lazard
CB Jean-Charles Shemar
Banged Up Bills Best Bet
While I do expect the Bills to win this game, Green Bay has been close in nearly every game this season, only getting beat by double digits twice this season.
On Sunday Night Football in a place that the Packers have never won and against a Bills team coming off the bye, they could keep it closer than most fans would like.
This makes my betting pick for the Packers to cover the spread at -10.5 (-110) at BetMGM.
The Packers’ offensive line is beaten up and they will be without their top wide receiver in Allen Lazard. They are on a three-game losing streak and in prime time, they have something to prove. However, the Bills will be without their starting right tackle and not much else, looking to come out strong after the bye and boat race another Super Bowl contender.
If the Bills can provide pressure on the offensive line consistently and not give Aaron Rodgers time to throw, then they can really make this team one-dimensional. It should be an excellent game and as always hoping for no new injuries.
Top Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated