Game 272, everything is on the line for the Buffalo Bills. With a win, they secure the AFC East championship for the fourth consecutive year and they secure the second seed in the playoffs. More importantly, they extend a season that at one point seemed destined to end without a playoff berth.
The Miami Dolphins have a lot to play as well on Sunday. Not only do they have the same things at stake, but with a win, they could potentially knock Buffalo out of the playoffs altogether if things fall their way. This is shaping up to be a fantastic game with two of the best AFC teams duking it out on Sunday night.
Heading into the game, the Bills have a distinct injury advantage with far fewer players on the injury report. They have been without several defensive leaders for most of the season in Matt Milano and Tre’Davious White but did see the return of DaQuan Jones last week.
The Dolphins have recently lost Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb to season-ending injuries along with many other smaller injuries including several high-ankle sprains.
Both teams will bring their best despite their injuries as this season has become a war of attrition. Read further for the latest information on all the injuries and projected inactives.
Buffalo Bills Injury Report
C Mitch Morse (Illness)
Morse was unable to practice on Friday due to an illness and is officially questionable. Fortunately, most players who are on the injury report for an illness end up playing. Since 2017 for the Buffalo Bills, excluding COVID, only Quintin Morris has missed the game due to illness in Week 13 in 2022.
Update: Morse has been removed from the injury report.
QB Josh Allen (Right Middle Finger/Neck)
Allen got beat up by the Patriots on Sunday suffering two injuries. The first and more concerning one is the right middle finger injury sustained when his finger clipped the Patriots defender’s helmet on a follow-through late in the first quarter.
He was seen shaking/rubbing his fingers intermittently throughout the game and was even rubbing them out at the end. This middle finger was being worked on by head AT Nate Breske at practice on Thursday and is noticeably swollen gripping the ball. This may affect his grip somewhat but not as bad as some of the other fingers that grip the ball. He also may aggravate the area should it take another hit. Allen would be smart to protect his hand on runs and pressures.
As for his shoulder/neck, he suffered the injury securing the first down on the last play of the game. He suffered a stinger and had his left shoulder checked out on the sidelines. This stinger is inconsequential other than it does increase the possibility of aggravating the area should he take another hit. The sudden side-bending of his neck overstretched the nerves that go into the shoulder, causing the stinger.
The neck should not be an issue heading into Sunday.
DE Leonard Floyd (Left Ribs)
Floyd continues to work through a left rib injury as noted below in the video when he took a blindside hit, walking off in pain. Whether this is bruised or cracked ribs, he has played through the injury since Week 15 and will be good to go.
S Damar Hamlin (Right Shoulder)
Hamlin has been working through a right shoulder injury that has a high suspicion of a posterior labrum tear as noted in the video below. He was able to return to that game with a shoulder harness and could potentially play, but considering Micah Hyde is healthy enough, this sends Hamlin back to the inactive list.
S Micah Hyde (Neck)
Hyde has been battling several stingers this season, all affecting the left side of his neck/arm. These are the result of several hits with Hyde sustaining three stingers over six weeks. He missed weeks 15 and 16 while he allowed his neck to rest to get through the remainder of the season. He still does run the risk of suffering another stinger which could lead to an early day, but this is a risk Hyde and the team are willing to take.
Miami Dolphins Injury Report
CB Xavien Howard (Left Foot)
Howard suffered a left foot injury sometime in the first quarter while trying to cover WR Rashod Bateman. As seen in the clip below, Howard runs in towards the middle of the field before stopping suddenly and pivoting backward to turn to his left. He begins to lose his balance and steps awkwardly on his left foot before falling.
He required the cart to leave the field and after the game, head coach Mike McDaniel revealed that his foot injury would not require surgery but that he is week-to-week. Looking at the injury, it’s hard to discern what he exactly was injured, but it’s possible he suffered a midfoot sprain as he landed with his weight shifted outside while his toes were planted. This may have caused enough torque through the foot that he suffered the midfoot sprain. It’s possible that he also suffered some type of fracture in the foot whether this was an avulsion or outright break, but this isn’t something that he’ll quickly be able to play through.
The Bills will not see Howard in Week 18 and he may not even be able to go in the Wild Card round either based on the looks of it.
LB Bradley Chubb (Right ACL)
Chubb tore his right ACL last week and should be placed on injured reserve before the game.
WR Jaylen Waddle (Left High-Ankle Sprain)
Waddle missed last week after suffering a left high-ankle sprain as seen in the play below in Week 16.
This high-ankle sprain appears to be on the milder side as his foot was not fully planted and the foot was placed in dorsiflexion and eversion when he got hit. The mechanism is still there but it stands to reason that he can play in Week 18. Should Waddle play, he will be limited to routes out to his right to avoid loading the ankle on the left side.
Even when he does catch the ball, unless he can move to his right, he won’t be able to explode off that first step, limiting his YAC. This will limit his ability to make plays after he catches the ball, limiting what the offense can do. He would be best served to rest another week but the team may be forced to play him to secure the division.
RB Raheem Mostert (Knee/Ankle)
Mostert was a surprise inactive on Sunday after knee and ankle injuries prevented him from having enough turnaround time to get ready to play. His knee injury dates back to Week 9 and the ankle goes back even further to Week 7. This has appeared to be a maintenance thing up to this point but as he has played through the injuries, they appear to have worsened to the point where they become more difficult to manage late in the season.
I have not seen the specifics of either injury, though I suspect that his knee is bothering him at times from the cartilage repair surgery he underwent back in 2021.
Update: Both Waddle and Mostert have been ruled out.
LB Jerome Baker (Left Knee MCL)
Baker returned to practice this week after getting placed on injured reserve following injuring the knee against the Washington Commanders. Having four weeks off will help his recovery but it may come down to if he has had enough practice time to be ready come Sunday.
S Jevon Holland (Knees)
Holland suffered bilateral MCL sprains in his knees back in Week 12 against the New York Jets. Considering MCL sprains take several weeks to heal from in one knee, for both knees to be sprained explains why he missed the last four games.
He was able to return to play last week but according to Alf Artegia of 3 Yards Per Carry, Holland was on his weekly show discussing how he didn’t know the defense and was arguing with Jalen Ramsey which led to defensive breakdowns. I would expect that communication to improve this week, but his lateral mobility will still be compromised and could be a target for the Bills offense to blow off the top.
OL Robert Hunt (Hamstring)
Hunt has missed the last four games as he has battled a hamstring strain through the second half of the season. He originally suffered the injury back in Week 8, missing the following two games and using the bye for an extra week to get healthy. When he returned in Week 12, he was as emergency depth, appearing in only one special teams snap.
When he did return in Week 13, he appeared in 69 percent of offensive snaps before aggravating the hamstring strain. This forced him to leave the game and he has not appeared since. Hunt was outright ruled out every week until being listed as doubtful in Week 17, ultimately missing. Despite being listed as questionable this week, it may come down to how the team feels about his chances. Having been out for the past month, I would expect him to play. He does run the risk of aggravating the injury once again and losing him for the playoffs, but the Dolphins need this win.
QB Tua Tagovailoa (Left Shoulder)
Tua continues to stay on the injury report with now a left shoulder injury as seen in the play below. He slides down and appears to hit the shoulder against the ground. The mechanism for injury doesn’t look like much but the shoulder did limit him during the week. The hope for Dolphins fans is that it is a contusion but this could also be a rotator cuff bruise which could affect power and accuracy.
Add in the left thumb injury sustained against the Dallas Cowboys that could still be bothering him and a quad injury that can limit his mobility, Tua is feeling the effects of a long season. He will need his offensive line and mobility to protect him from Buffalo’s formidable defensive line.
QB Mike White (Right Shoulder)
White appeared on the injury report Thursday with a right shoulder designation and appears to be stretching it out in the picture below, but it’s not clear what he is dealing with. Considering he practiced in full this week, this may be a maintenance issue.
RB De’Von Achane (Right Turf Toe/Ribs)
Achane originally suffered his toe injury playing against the Tennessee Titans and has been on the injury report since then. His workload decreased over the following two weeks rushing for 32 and 24 yards while adding in 37 total receiving yards.
On Hard Knocks, it was revealed that Achane has been playing through a turf toe injury as seen in the clip below. It appears to be on his right leg based on the camera angle.
This is pretty impressive how he has been able to play through the injury and rushing for 107 yards, receiving 30 more yards, and a touchdown with Raheem Mostert out. Achane will continue to feel the effects of the injury for the remainder of the season but a reduced workload when Mostert comes back makes Achane more dangerous when he gets rest.
As for his ribs, he downplayed the issue and stated he would play earlier this week.
OT Terron Armstead (Left Knee/Right Ankle/Back)
Armstead continues to deal with a variety of injuries throughout this season. His left knee dates back to Week 4 against the Buffalo Bills with that injury sending him to injured reserve to rehab. His right ankle injury was the result of a leg whip on the goal line against the Commanders that cost him the following week. As for his back injury, this popped up last week following Week 16 but did not prevent him from suiting up last week.
DT Zach Sieler (Illness)
Sieler missed Wednesday’s practice but was able to return in full for the remainder of the week.
OL Lester Cotton (Hip)
Cotton has been battling a hip injury off and on since Week 12. He has not missed any games but has been limited during the week.
OL Liam Eichenberg (Calf/Ankle)
Eichenberg has been playing through a calf injury dating back to Week 14 against the Tennessee Titans. He has been filling in at center from what I’ve seen as he replaced Connor Williams who tore his ACL. He picked up an ankle injury in Week 16, possibly to the same side. His mobility may be limited at times suggesting that he could be beaten if set up right.
OL Austin Jackson (Oblique)
Jackson has been playing through an oblique injury sustained originally against the Tennessee Titans. He appeared to suffer a re-injury in the New York Jets game, appearing in only 48 percent of snaps. He missed the following game against the Dallas Cowboys before returning next week against the Baltimore Ravens playing his normal complement of snaps.
LB David Long (Knee)
Long was limited all week with a knee injury without any additional information available as to the specifics of the knee injury.
LB Duke Riley (Ankle)
Riley was limited all week with an ankle injury and should be relegated to a backup role with the possible return of Jerome Baker.
CB Jalen Ramsey (Knee)
Ramsey was a late addition to the injury report ahead of Week 17 on that Friday suggesting he tweaked the knee in practice. This is somewhat notable considering he returned from his meniscus repair from training camp. He was able to play through the injury last week and is expected to play again this week.
Buffalo Bills Projected Inactives
S Damar Hamlin
OT Alec Anderson
CB Kaiir Elam
LB Von Miller
DT Poona Ford
Miami Dolphins Projected Inactives
CB Xavien Howard
QB Skylar Thompson
TE Tyler Kroft
LB Duke Riley
LB Bradley Chubb (Going to IR)
WR Robbie Chosen
This should be one hell of a game. I expect both teams to bring their very best and this may come down to who has the ball last. While Josh Allen has owned the Dolphins over his career, inferior opponents have gotten the best of him. Anyone can be beaten any week.
For both sides, I hope both teams get out of this game healthy because both can make deep playoff runs. It’d be a shame to see an early playoff exit because they are not at full strength.
Let’s hope for a great game and see how everything plays out.
Top Photo Credit: NFL.com