‘Next man up’ is a popular NFL phrase, and if you check out the league’s weekly injury report you will understand just why.
Every franchise can only put 11 players on the field at any one time, but they need every bit of their 53-man roster over a brutal 17-game season.
Huge men engaging in violent collisions at ridiculous speed on a regular basis means injuries are more prevalent than ever, and some of them can end a team’s season in a split second.
Our injury report is not intended to be totally exhaustive - it is all about giving the intel on new and key injuries which will really impact betting and selecting fantasy teams for the week’s upcoming games. And of course availability for those NFL playoffs.
Here are the biggest injury storylines heading into Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday in Las Vegas:
This is extremely bad news for the Chiefs - and their superstar QB Patrick Mahomes. All Pro guard Joe Thuney is unlikely to suit up on Super Sunday due to a pectoral injury - with HC Andy Reid describing him as a “long shot” to make the big game. He suffered the injury during the Divisional playoff win in Buffalo, and missed the AFC title game success in Baltimore. Nick Allegretti will again deputise against the 49ers if Thuney indeed cannot go.
Bad news for KC coming out of that terrific AFC Championship game victory over the Ravens in Baltimore. Omenihu tore his ACL during the 17-10 success and will now miss the biggest game of all. It’s tough luck on a player who had been a force in recent weeks, racking up 7 sacks despite missing the first six games of the season. He showed his big-game potential by recording a sack and a forced fumble during the win in Baltimore. Omenihu will not have surgery until after the big game, but only so he can travel to Vegas with the team for the game week festivities.
Pacheco is a warrior in the KC backfield and he’s been fighting through ankle and toe injuries during the Chiefs’ post-season run. Despite the pain he’s averaged 21 carries per game in the playoffs, and he is expected to start again vs the 49ers on Super Bowl Sunday.
While Pacheco is expected to start on Sunday, his fellow Chiefs RB McKinnon is very much the opposite. He is still trying to fight off a groin injury which saw him land on injured reserve at the end of the regular season. Reid says his prospects of figuring in Vegas on Sunday are “slim”.
Gay missed the AFC Championship Game win in Baltimore, obviously throwing his availability for Super Bowl LVIII into some doubt. The neck spasms which forced him to sit out the win over the Ravens have subsided though, and he is back in practice and “feeling amazing”.
While the Chiefs have a number of injury concerns, the Niners are remarkably healthy ahead of their bid for a first Super Bowl victory since 1995. Superstar tight end George Kittle has been the most high-profile issue for San Fran, missing practice last week with a toe injury. HC Kyle Shanahan has no fears about Kittle’s availability for Super Sunday though, and expected him to return to practice this week.
Pressure up the middle can really worry a QB, even a superstar QB. Just ask Tom Brady about the time his perfect Patriots were harried to defeat by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. So having DT Armstead healthy is an important factor for the Niners as they look to put the heat on Mahomes in Las Vegas. The good news is that Armstead is expected to suit up despite battling knee and foot injuries for several weeks. He, like Kittle, missed practice last week.