BYE Week Injury Update & should the NFL be concerned about the increase in COVID cases?

Hey, BillsMafia!

Yikes. Talk about a heartbreaker. That is going to leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth until next Sunday’s game vs Los Angeles. 8-2 was right there in our arms and then snatched from us. My Thanksgiving would have been A LOT more enjoyable at 8-2 than it will be now. Let’s hope the team can get past this, and it doesn’t linger in their heads and crush their confidence. Obviously, this week is the BYE week, and it comes at a perfect time because this team sure as hell needs it. There are two reasons why this BYE week is needed more than ever: injuries and COVID. Let’s look at the injuries first.  

Injuries:

During Sunday’s heartbreaker in Arizona, some notable guys went down. Rookie CB, Dane Jackson, went down immediately after a play grabbing his knee and appeared to be in all sorts of pain. At first, it did not look good. It usually doesn’t end well when you see a guy on the ground holding his knee like that. After seeing the replay, however, you can see his knee never twisted or buckled. Thankfully, he was able to walk off the field without assistance. Not too long after he exited, the broadcast showed him on the stationary bike on the sideline, which was a great sign. Jackson eventually re-entered the game in the 4th quarter and was able to finish it out. Jackson is more likely than not experiencing some pain and swelling in the knee right now, and the week of rest will help that.

After making a nice play to chase down Kyler Murray (and almost punching the ball out as well), rookie DE AJ Epenesa landed on the back of his head, causing him to leave the game. After his evaluation in the locker room, he was deemed “out” with a head injury. Obviously, this means Epenesa has a concussion. AJ will get the whole week to stay at home and rest and has a chance to return to action once the BYE week concludes.

LG Cody Ford suffered an ankle injury during the previous game at home against Seattle where he had the back of his ankle landed on by a fellow lineman. If you read my blog last week, I informed you that it was very likely the staff would hold him out to give him the extra rest despite being able to practice. This is exactly what happened, and it was the right call. Ford should be close to 100% and ready to roll for the Bills’ next game vs Los Angeles.

WR John Brown made a beautiful catch on 3rd and long for a first down, only to have it called back via a holding penalty. That penalty would be the third of four total offensive penalties in that one series (unbelievable). When Brown came down with the ball, he came down awkwardly. Initially, it looked like his knee buckled, but the replay actually showed that it was his ankle that came down awkwardly. After talking it over with fellow BF contributor, Alex Lucci, it appears that Brown suffered an eversion ankle fracture. Ankle sprains are most commonly inversion where the ankle rolls in an outward motion. If you look at the pictures below, although not great quality, you can see Brown’s ankle rolls in an inward motion, which causes damage to the deltoid ligament of the ankle.

Here is a picture of the ligament damage from this type of ankle sprain courtesy of sportsinjuryclinic.net

When can we see Brown return to the lineup? As I always say, everyone heals differently. Brown’s timetable to return could last anywhere from 2-6 weeks depending on the severity. With the team off for this week, it’s unlikely we will hear any updates. Next week will be interesting to see in regards to Brown’s participation in practice. While the standard timeline may be 2-6 weeks, it is possible Brown will be in the lineup vs. the Chargers.

COVID: Is the NFL season in jeopardy?

Why did I bring up COVID again? Well, look around the league right now. Look around the country again. Cases are skyrocketing, communities are turning back into red zones, and there is talk of another nationwide shutdown. The NFL seems to have a player or coach test positive daily. The Browns have shut down their facility twice within two weeks. The Niners played a Thursday Night Game against Green Bay with a JV squad after they had an outbreak the day prior. Numbers are up across the league. The NFL made a contingency plan and approved an expanded playoff bracket due to the virus in case games need to be canceled in the upcoming weeks.

The Bills had CB Josh Norman test positive 24 hours before kickoff. Three others were placed on the reserve list due to close contact. At this point, it appears all 32 teams have dealt with positive cases at some point since training camps opened, and it’s only getting worse. During the BYE week, the players are not allowed to travel outside of Western New York as opposed to other seasons, and the players are required to be tested daily still. That is great, but the virus is still active in our local communities. It is on the players to take precautionary measures seriously, and I’m sure coach McDermott has hammered this into their heads. They need to be accountable and smart. All it takes is one guy to screw it up and bring the virus into the facility.

The team that wins the Super Bowl this year will either be the Chiefs or the team that managed to stay the healthiest.

Outlook for the final 6 games:

The injury report will begin to shrink. Last week’s report was insanely long. However, guys like Brown, Ford, Epenesa, Hughes, Butler, Winters, Morse (seems like he was dressed in an emergency role vs Arizona), Jackson, White, Hyde, Edmunds, etc. should return to 100% or be close to it. Milano is eligible to return after the Chargers game as well and should be back to 100% himself as well. Getting hot and healthy at the right time is important, and we have seen teams go on great runs late in the season and into the playoffs when that happens.

A healthy Bills team has no excuses, really. The roster is the best it has been in a while, and Allen has made tremendous improvements. They should beat teams like L.A., a severely injured San Francisco, Denver, and New England. Key word being should. The Bills are probably still the favorites to win the division. Miami is red hot, though, and has such a cakewalk of a schedule remaining (Denver without Lock, Jets, Bengals, Chiefs, Patriots, Raiders, Bills). Very possibly, they finish 11-5. While the AFC playoff race is extremely tight, I think a 10-6 record would be good enough for a Wild Card. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Punch that ticket to the playoffs, and anything is possible.

Thanks for reading everyone!

As Always,

Go Bills!

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