Week 17 is here! The first meaningful Week 17 game in 13 years is upon the Bills with a chance to end the long suffering drought. As everyone knows by now, the Bills must win their game and benefit from a Ravens loss or Chargers and Titans losses. As in any sport, all you have to do is qualify for the post season and anything can happen. Win or lose, the fact that the Bills are in the conversation and contention until the end demonstrates that talent does exist on the roster, it just needs to be harnessed to its maximum potential.
However, maximizing potential also relies on maintaining player health. Browsing Twitter recently, I found this gem of a tweet from @Jason_OTC which really encapsulates how the Bills have been able to stay in contention. The link for the tweet is here, but what it states is the top 10 NFL teams that have had the most salary cap money affected by injury. Out of the top 10, only the Patriots and Seahawks are playoff eligible teams. These are teams that have established coaches and players in their system that can absorb injuries and continue to move forward.
The one team that isn’t on there that I’m sure has been on in past seasons? The one and only Buffalo Bills! Keeping a healthy roster has been key to the team’s success this year and is clearly evident by the previous list; you can’t win in the NFL if you don’t have a healthy roster or exceptional depth. Making this point does allow an easy transition towards today’s article breaking down the injury report and impact for the Week 17 match up against the Miami Dolphins.
First up is players ruled out for Sunday which only consists of CB Shareece Wright out with a concussion. It is unknown when Wright sustained his concussion and when symptoms began to develop. Thankfully, he is a depth player and while depth is important, this is not a significant blow to the roster.
Those questionable for Sunday include C Ryan Groy (illness) and WR Deonte Thompson (shoulder/back). Flu season is in full effect and that’s most likely what Groy is dealing with, no secret there. As for Thompson, he sustained a back injury during Sunday’s game early in the 2nd quarter. It appeared he took a hard shot to the back but was able to return. To add to it, he suffered a shoulder injury in practice on Thursday, unfortunately, not much is known about how he injured it. Depending on severity of the shoulder injury, which appears to be worse than the back injury will dictate whether he suits up Sunday.
Those dealing with injury but expected to play include WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee), TE Charles Clay (knee), DT Kyle Williams (groin), and CB E.J. Gaines (knee). Benjamin and Clay continue to deal with their respective knee injuries which hasn’t greatly reduced their ability to produce, but does limit them somewhat. It would take a broken bone or significant ligament damage to prevent Kyle Williams from suiting up for this game. Even with a major diagnosis such as that, he would still possibly try to play; that man has and will continue to give 100%.
Finally, Gaines missed last week with what I believed to be a Grade 1 MCL sprain to his left knee during the previous Dolphins game. As mentioned on The Rockpile Report this week, it was theorized that Gaines was held out from the Patriots game as their was little chance to win the game and he would benefit from an additional week of rehab to be ready for this game. I support this theory as fact as medically, it makes sense. I would not expect Gaines to be limited in any fashion during his play Sunday, the only limiting factor is his hard hitting style of play. As Shareece Wright is out, it is vitally important that Gaines remains healthy. There is a rather large difference in the defensive performance when Gaines is healthy and when he is not; the Bills need every starter available.
For the past 10 years as a Bills fan, I have waited for this moment, this moment to be able to watch the Bills in the post season. This is far from guaranteed as I type this while drinking my coffee, but the possibility is exciting. I remain cautiously optimistic, but still hopeful that this year the drought may end, it has to end at some point, why not now? After tomorrows game, the narrative of this Bills season will be fully shaped and be remembered for finally entering the playoffs in the 21st century or another missed opportunity. Only time will tell.
Continue to check back for the latest articles and updates following the games. Follow me on Twitter @kyletrimble88 for the latest game time updates and injury assessments. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!!