It’s hard to believe, but we are already nearing the NFL’s playoff push. The playoffs get underway in about a month-and-a-half. With just six weeks left in the regular season, teams are already gearing up for the stretch run.
Injuries play an unfortunate role in determining the Super Bowl champion every year, and this year will be no exception. The reigning NFC champion San Francisco 49ers aren’t likely to repeat thanks to an incredible rash of injuries. The current NFC frontrunners, the New Orleans Saints, are having to navigate through the final few weeks of the season without their franchise quarterback, Drew Brees.
We had a few more unfortunate injuries occur in Week 11 that could shake things up as the season winds to a close. Here’s the NFL injury roundup heading into Thanksgiving.
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (Knee)
The Cincinnati Bengals were never going to sniff a playoff berth this year, but the team has made major progress thanks in large part to the play of rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow has been everything the Bengals could have possibly hoped for since he was taken first overall in the draft, but his first NFL season has come to an abrupt end.
Burrow was injured during the third quarter of Cincy’s 20-9 loss to Washington after being hit while making a throw. He was eventually carted off the field, and an MRI confirmed that the former Heisman Trophy winner tore both the ACL and MLC in his left knee. The MRI also showed other structural damage.
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Burrow’s season is over, and it remains to be seen whether he will be ready to roll by the time training camp starts ahead of next season. Head coach Zac Taylor said the Bengals have not put a firm timetable on his expected return, but the team is reportedly optimistic that he will be able to get back to 100 percent health.
Burrow was already facing an uphill climb to beat Justin Herbert for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, and that dream likely dies with this injury. On the season, the LSU product has completed 65.3 percent of his throws for 2,688 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. Burrow’s absence means backup QB Ryan Finley will likely take over under center moving forward.
The 2-7-1 Bengals will surely have a tough time winning games with Burrow sidelined. Cincinnati is a 5.5-point underdog at home this week against the New York Giants.
Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns (COVID)
All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett sat out of the Cleveland Browns‘ 22-17 win over the Eagles on Sunday, and Cleveland is expecting him to miss another game after testing positive for COVID. Head coach Kevin Stefanski said Garrett will miss the Browns’ clash with the Jacksonville Jaguars next week as he continues to recover.
The Browns sacked Eagles QB Carson Wentz five times even without Garrett on Sunday. The former No. 1 overall pick is firmly in the running to win Defensive Player of the Year this season, as he is still tied for the league lead with 9.5 sacks. Garrett also leads the NFL in turnovers forced by QB pressure with seven.
While the Browns will miss Garrett, they should have little trouble this week against a miserable Jaguars team without him. The Jags are one of the worst teams in the league in terms of protecting their quarterbacks, and QB Jake Luton was sacked twice on his way to throwing four interceptions on Sunday against the Steelers.
The up-and-coming Browns still face long odds to win the tough AFC North at +2000, but Cleveland does finally look primed to end their long postseason drought. If the season ended today, the 7-3 Browns would be the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs. If they make it, Cleveland will appear in the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Mark Ingram, JK Dobbins, RBs, Baltimore Ravens (COVID)
The Baltimore Ravens were dealt a blow in their quest to catch the Steelers in the AFC North with a 30-24 overtime loss to the Titans on Sunday. Baltimore fell to just 6-4 on the year, and they’ll have just a couple of days to prepare to face the Steelers again on Thanksgiving Night.
However, Baltimore will be severely shorthanded in the backfield. Running backs Mark Ingram and JK Dobbins both tested positive for COVID on Monday, which means the Ravens will be without both on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. That means Gus Edwards will likely take over as the team’s primary running back, while Justice Hill will presumably see more snaps in pass-catching situations.
The absence of Ingram and Dobbins may also mean Lamar Jackson has to take on more responsibility as a runner. The reigning league MVP won’t come close to matching his NFL record rushing totals from last season. He has amassed 575 yards through 10 games in 2020 after topping 1,200 rushing yards a season ago.
The Ravens are currently listed as four-point underdogs ahead of Thursday night’s highly-anticipated clash. Edwards has carried the ball 85 times for 376 yards with three touchdowns so far this season. The undefeated Steelers picked up a 28-24 win over the Ravens in Baltimore back on November 1.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions (Concussion)
D’Andre Swift had a huge game in his first start of the season back in Week 10, but he was forced to miss last week’s loss to the Panthers with a concussion. The Detroit Lions face a quick turnaround this week, as they will host the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving Day.
Swift was listed as a non-participant in practice on Monday. The rookie running back has 70 carries for 331 yards with four touchdowns on the season, along with 31 catches for another 275 yards and two scores. Swift gained nearly 150 yards from scrimmage two weeks ago against Washington.
Detroit was able to generate almost no offense with Swift sidelined in Carolina last week. Adrian Peterson gained just 18 yards on his seven carries, while Kerryon Johnson finished with 17 yards on six attempts. The Lions were held scoreless for the first time this season, though the matchup against Houston is a favorable one. The Texans have been one of the worst teams in the league in terms of defending the run all year long.
The Lions are three-point home underdogs ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving tilt.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers (Shoulder)
Christian McCaffrey has missed each of the last two games with a shoulder injury. According to head coach Matt Rhule, the former Stanford standout is unlikely to return this week, either. McCaffrey is not expected to play this week when the Carolina Panthers face the Vikings on the road. Rhule said he is officially listed as “week-to-week.”
Backup Mike Davis, who has started for most of the season with McCaffrey battling injuries, gained 64 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown in Sunday’s win over Detroit. Davis has racked up 449 yards on 111 carries with three touchdowns on the year while also contributing 49 receptions for another 305 yards.
Panthers’ HC Matt Rhule considers Christian McCaffrey week to week with his shoulder injury, but it is considered unlikely that the Pro Bowl RB will play Sunday vs. the Vikings, per source.
McCaffrey, who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage by a huge margin a year ago, has played in just three games all year. He has accounted for 374 yards of offense on 76 total touches. The Panthers sit in third place in the NFC South at 4-7 on the year heading into Sunday’s game at Minnesota. The Vikings opened as four-point favorites with McCaffrey expected to sit out.
The Panthers are expecting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to return to the lineup this week after sitting out the win over the Lions with a knee injury.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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