The Buffalo Bills host the Miami Dolphins in a huge Week 4 matchup that could drastically impact the division crown later in the season. Both teams come in with high-powered offenses, insanely talented quarterbacks, and punishing defenses. This contest may become a battle of attrition as each team looks to minimize mistakes and use any advantage to get the upper hand.
Both teams come in with a key defensive starter out and injuries across the board. Both teams are also missing what could be Hall of Fame defensive players in Von Miller and Jalen Ramsey as they recover from their respective knee injuries. This game should be an exciting one with strategy and injuries dictating the final outcome. Below are the injuries for each team, projected inactives, Banged Up Bills Best Bet, and final observations.
Buffalo Bills Injury Report
S Jordan Poyer (Right Knee)
Poyer missed practice this week with a right knee injury sustained midway through the third quarter of Sunday’s game. Looking at the video below, it looks as though he suffered a contusion to the area as the pile crashed into him. The injury was initially described as knee soreness which would match what was seen on film.
Poyer did have a lateral meniscus tear last season, though it was never confirmed which side he tore. He did suffer a right knee injury against the Dolphins last season during the second meeting, but the mechanism was not consistent with a meniscus tear. There was never any confirmation that Poyer underwent surgery to clean up the knee either. Considering the amount of injuries that Poyer played through last season, I did not expect that Poyer would be missing this contest.
However, he was ruled out prior to Friday’s practice and will miss this contest. There may be more context to the injury including severity, but a less than 100 percent Poyer against a healthy Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle may have been too much to gamble with in Week 4. It’s a long season and the team may be considering that for this game.
G Ryan Bates (Left Ankle)
Bates slowly improved through the week as he worked through a left ankle injury that happened at the end of the game Sunday. This injury was the result of when he was hit by fellow teammate Ryan Van Demark as they both attempted to block for James Cook as he raced towards the end zone. He does not have any designation heading into the game but may be limited at times blocking and driving to his right or if he has to hold a block to his left.
DE Leonard Floyd (Right Ankle)
Floyd suffered a right ankle injury during the Week 2 win over the Las Vegas Raiders when he was pushed out of the backfield, losing his balance and twisting his ankle. It appeared that he suffered a low ankle sprain but the injury was significant enough that the team activated Kingsley Jonathan in the event that Floyd could not get through the game. He has since improved as seen in the video below especially as he bent the edge.
He has had several ankle injuries to that side including surgery last year which may indicate that this was a more acute on chronic injury that he is working through. Tape and a supportive shoe should help him get through this game again.
S Micah Hyde (Right Hamstring)
Hyde surprisingly played last week despite suffering a right hamstring injury trying to avoid a late hit with DaVante Adams in Week 2. He moved well during the Week 3 game against the Commanders and even secured an interception, indicating that while the injury is present, it’s not so severe that he can’t continue to work through the injury. As each week progresses, his chance to re-injure continues to decrease.
CB Taron Johnson (Hip)
Not much is known about Johnson’s hip injury other than it limited him on Wednesday but he was able to practice in full on Thursday and Friday. There also was not anything during the game or practice that indicated that he was dealing with anything specific.
DB Siran Neal (Right Ankle)
Neal only appeared in seven special teams plays, limiting the possible instances when he suffered his ankle injury, but he was seen wearing a compression sleeve on his right leg during practice in the video above. Considering he plays exclusively special teams, he may still be working through some pain, but would not expect his duties to change.
LS Reid Ferguson (Wrist)
This is Ferguson’s first appearance on the injury report since he became a full-time starter in 2017. He did have a back injury that forced him to miss the final preseason game in 2021, but Ferguson has been among the healthiest on the team.
He did not practice Thursday with a wrist injury which is a minor concern as the wrists are vitally important to snapping the football. However, the team did not bring in any longsnappers for tryouts indicating that this is a minor injury and he practiced in full on Friday without a designation. If for some reason Ferguson is unable to finish the game, AJ Epenesa is the emergency backup long snapper.
Ferguson is a pro and will get this addressed so there are no issues come Sunday. Bring on Ferguson Bowl as he prepares to face his brother, Blake, the Dolphins’ long snapper, yet again.
Miami Dolphins Injury Report
LB Jaelan Phillips (Oblique/Back)
Phillips will miss yet another game this season, this time due to an oblique injury. This injury follows the back injury that forced him out of Week 2. Phillips appeared to have suffered the oblique injury during the second quarter and was initially questionable during the game.
He did not return, though he was not needed in the romp over the Broncos. It is not clear which play the injury happened or which side, but it would not surprise me if the oblique injury is tied into the back injury suffered prior to Week 2 considering the proximity. He is a big loss for the defensive line heading into Week 4.
OT Terron Armstead (Back/Ankle/Right Knee)
Despite being questionable, Armstead suited up last week with his many ailments as he does every season. As I have stated previously, I believe the back and ankle injuries are the more pressing issue as the right knee required off-season surgery to clean out the area. In addition, it has been over a month since he had another player fall onto his leg at practice but the ankle and back injuries appeared during the Week 1 practices.
I fully expect Armstead to play and he has even said himself that he is looking to suit up. He has played through a lot of injuries and this game is too big to miss.
C Connor Williams (Groin)
Williams suffered a groin strain sometime in either the second or third quarter which saw him head back to the locker room.
He was unable to practice Wednesday before getting in limited practices Thursday and Friday, leaving him questionable for the game. Groin injuries can be played through, we have seen this in plenty of instances including Xavien Howard, who plays an equally demanding position. The concern with Williams playing through it is re-injury during the game, especially with the lateral movement required on the offensive line and the suddenness of getting hit randomly by flying bodies. He could also re-injure the area if he has to put too much effort into blocking whichever side the groin is injured or if he gets hit from behind, forcing his hips forward.
If he goes down, Liam Eichenberg is the backup center and can slide over to fill his spot.
RB Salvon Ahmed (Groin)
Ahmed missed last week due to a groin injury suffered late in the second quarter in Week 2 against the Patriots. He was limited all week but considering the offensive explosion of both Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane, Ahmed may not have a role in the offense. It would make sense to sit him and allow him to be fully healthy for later in the season if other injuries occur at the running back position.
S DeShon Elliott (Ankle/Groin)
Elliott also appeared to suffer his injury sometime in the third quarter as he was seen walking back to the locker room. His official designations were an ankle and groin, though he did not have any known injuries the prior week. I do expect he will try to play through the injuries.
TE Tyler Kroft (Back)
Kroft injured his back sometime prior to Week 3, but it isn’t clear if this was in practice or a game. He has only played in five offensive snaps this season and has not been a factor in the game plans so far this season.
TE Durham Smythe (Hamstring)
The Dolphins blocking tight end worked through a hamstring injury this week with limited practice before getting full practices on Thursday and Friday. Smythe’s injury is notable as he worked through a hamstring strain through all of October that saw him miss one game and stay on the injury report for three weeks. Hopefully, this is more precautionary, but something to note if he leaves the game earlier.
CB Eli Apple (Neck/Concussion Check)
Apple worked through a neck injury and also had a concussion check designation earlier in the week. Historically, when a concussion check occurs on the injury report, it is the result of a player requiring a concussion check during the game but not being cleared in time before the game ends. This allows the team to show transparency in stating the player was assessed for a concussion and they are not hiding the results.
Considering the neck designation, he may have had some soreness from the hit to the head. He was able to practice in full all week and has no designation.
TE Julian Hill (Ankle)
Hill has been working through an ankle injury dating back to Week 1, missing the first two weeks before appearing in 78 percent of snaps in Week 3. He only received one target but appeared to perform more blocking and decoy duties. He does not have a designation heading into Week 4.
WR Jaylen Waddle (Concussion)
Waddle officially cleared concussion protocol on Thursday after suffering the head injury in Week 2 due to a vicious hit from Patriots S/LB Marte Mapu. He was progressing towards the end of last week with a red non-contact jersey indicating Stage 4, but he was unable to be cleared in time. He has no limitations heading into Sunday and should be a valuable weapon in the offense.
WR River Cracraft (Right Shoulder)
Cracraft suffered a right shoulder injury with 2:04 left in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Broncos. By video, he got slammed down hard onto his right shoulder after a tackle, potentially suffering an AC joint sprain. He was initially questionable before being downgraded to out.
On Wednesday, Mike McDaniel stated that there was the possibility that he would go on IR as noted below, but not a certainty. However, on Friday, they made the decision to place him on IR, missing the next four games.
WR Erik Ezukanma (Neck)
Ezukanma was placed on the non-football injury list which indicates that his ailment was not football related. No details have been revealed but missing the next four games for a developing receiver is difficult.
CB Nik Needham (Achilles)
Needham was seen working out on his own on Friday as seen below. He is coming off his Achilles tear in Week 6 that ended his season and required surgery. He started the year on PUP as he missed the entirety of training camp. The video doesn’t provide much as he’s jogging, but a positive development to see.
Buffalo Bills Projected Inactives
S Jordan Poyer
G Germain Ifedi
DE Kingsley Jonathan
CB Kaiir Elam
OT Alec Anderson
Miami Dolphins Projected Inactives
OT Kion Smith
TE Tyler Kroft
LB Jaelan Phillips
RB Salvon Ahmed
WR Cedrick Wilson
Banged Up Bills Best Bet
This game is shaping up to be a special one with two high-powered offenses and two talented defenses. The potential to have a high-scoring game could occur or a defensive chess match. Any injuries that happen could help shape the final score as well. These teams are pretty even which makes betting certain lines a risky proposition. However, the safest bet that I’m confident can win money betting one unit on the Dolphins covering the spread at +2.5 (+100) at Caesars.
Record: 3-0 +2.73 units
This is going to be a fun game to watch with each team having an excellent chance at winning the game. This will come down to whoever has fewer injuries and mistakes. Even when these teams play each other later in the season, the dynamics will change based on records and players available. The game is incredibly important to get an early leg up in the division in the event that rougher stretches occur down the line. Let’s hope for a fun and injury-free game.
Top Photo Credit: Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images