Just 12 teams remain after 17 weeks of grueling football. 2017 was one of the worst seasons for quarterback injuries in terms of star power. Things only get uglier after considering the plethora of injuries to linemen as well as skill position players. To get a rough idea of the value each team has lost, we’ve calculated an “Average” and “Sum” rank that represents the average and sum of their injured players’ PFF grades. This won’t account for preseason injuries, but provides a decent baseline for a team’s respective star power and depth lost this season via injury.
Let’s break down the healthiest playoff rosters headed into Wild Card Weekend, starting with the least injured and finishing with the most banged up.
1. Carolina Panthers
Average: 1st | Sum: 3rd
IR: WR Curtis Samuel (ankle), S Demetrious Cox (ankle), WR Damiere Byrd (knee), WR Charles Johnson (back).
Current: G Trai Turner (concussion), S Kurt Coleman (ankle), WR Devin Funchess (shoulder), RB Jonathan Stewart (back).
Bottom line: The Panthers have dealt with their fair share of injuries this season, but key players such as Cam Newton (shoulder) and Greg Olsen (foot) have gotten healthy at the right time. While their receiver depth has taken a hit – especially if you include the Kelvin Benjamin trade – the offense and defense is expected to be nearly fully healthy heading into Sunday’s matchup against the Saints. Turner, Coleman, Funchess, and Stewart are all tentatively expected to suit up Sunday.
2. Tennessee Titans
Average: 4th | Sum: 1st
IR: CB LeShaun Sims (hamstring), DL DaQuan Jones (bicep), WR Tajae Sharpe (foot).
Current: RB DeMarco Murray (knee), CB Brice McCain (hamstring), CB Logan Ryan (illness)
Bottom line: The potential absence of Murray could be viewed as a positive. Backup Derrick Henry has averaged an additional 0.6 yards per carry compared to Murray while racking up more broken tackles, runs of 15-plus yards, and games with 100-plus rushing yards this season. The absence of Sims and potentially McCain won’t help the league’s 24th-ranked defense in pass DVOA, but they’ve largely been thin at corner outside of Ryan, who is expected to play through his illness. Marcus Mariota and Delanie Walker have dealt with respective hamstring and ankle injuries this season, but have healed up in time for their Wild Card showdown at Arrowhead.
3. Los Angeles Rams
Average: 9th | Sum: 8th
IR: DE Matt Longacre (back), K Greg Zuerlein (back), CB Kayvon Webster (ankle), DT Dominique Easley (knee).
Current: WR Cooper Kupp (knee), LB Mark Barron (Achilles), LB Alec Ogletree (elbow), T Rodger Saffold (ribs)
Bottom line: The absence of Greg-the-leg/Legatron can’t be understated given he converted 38 of his 40 field goal attempts this season, but the Rams enter the Wild Card round expecting to have nearly their entire starting defense and offense healthy. Troy Hill has filled in admirably for Webster as the Rams’ No. 2 corner and all-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald has more than made up for the depth lost from Longacre and Easley. After Sean McVay’s decision to rest the key starters currently dealing with nagging injuries, Kupp, Barron, Ogletree and Saffold are all expected to suit up Saturday against the Falcons.
4. Minnesota Vikings
Average: 2nd | Sum: 6th
IR: QB Sam Bradford (knee), RB Dalvin Cook (knee), DT Sharrif Floyd (knee), C Nick Easton (ankle).
Current: C Pat Elflein (shoulder), TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle), FB C.J. Ham (neck), CB Tramaine Brock (foot).
Bottom line: The Vikings lost their starting quarterback and running back early in the season, but still managed to score the 10th-most points in the league behind Case Keenum and the Latavius Murray/Jerick McKinnon combo. Assuming Elflein and Rudolph are able to suit up after having a bye week to rest, the Vikings will have the league’s No. 2 defense in overall DVOA – as well as the No. 6 offensive line in adjusted sack rate – healthy and ready to go for the Divisional Round.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
Average: 6th | Sum: 7th
IR: WR Allen Robinson (knee), WR Rashad Greene (undisclosed), TE Mychal Rivera (wrist), WR Arrelious Benn (knee), WR Jaelen Strong (knee).
Current: WR Marqise Lee (ankle), T Cam Robinson (abdomen), TE Marcedes Lewis (ankle), DT Abry Jones (back).
Bottom line: The Jaguars have suffered an abundance of injuries at receiver and may not get Lee back in time for Sunday’s game against the Bills, considering he hasn’t practiced since Week 15. Robinson and Lewis are expected to suit up Sunday, as is Jones, further solidifying a front seven that has largely remained intact this season. Handing Leonard Fournette a combined 44 touches over the past two weeks probably wasn’t the best way to keep him fresh for January, but Fournette made it through the grind and is practicing in full heading into the postseason.
6. New England Patriots
Average: 7th | Sum: 4th
IR: WR Julian Edelman (ACL), TE Martellus Bennett (shoulder, hamstring), DE Shea McClellin (concussion), LB Dont’a Hightower (pectoral), T Marcus Cannon (ankle), DE Derek Rivers (knee), DT Vincent Valentine (knee).
Current: WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee), WR Chris Hogan (shoulder), RB James White (ankle), RB Mike Gillislee (knee), RB Rex Burkhead (knee), DT Alan Branch (knee).
Bottom line: Two of Brady’s top targets from last season’s Super Bowl winning team will be stuck on the sideline this time around, but Mitchell and Hogan could both suit up for the Divisional Round. The team’s disappointing 31st-ranked defense can at least blame some of their problems on the loss of several talented defenders, but the continued absence of their 6’6″ 325-pound run stuffer Branch would be bad news for their chances at becoming the worst defense since 1990-1991 to win the Super Bowl. Dion Lewis figures to at least get a breather moving forward, as each of White and Burkhead practiced during the team’s first-round bye.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
Average: 11th | Sum: 2nd
IR: RB James Conner (knee), LB Ryan Shazier (spine).
Current: WR Antonio Brown (calf), C Maurkice Pouncey (Hernia), CB Coty Sensabaugh (shoulder).
Bottom line: The Steelers boast the largest difference among all playoff teams in their average and sum injury score, meaning the few injuries they have had are very severe. The loss of PFF’s No. 12 overall linebacker is especially costly given his status as one of the league’s fastest and most-athletic defenders. Brown, who is essentially this generation’s Jerry Rice, appears on track to suit up in Round 2 after head coach Mike Tomlin said he’d be questionable if they had a game in Round 1. Ben Roethlisberger certainly hopes to have his starting center back in addition to his standout receiver.
8. Buffalo Bills
Average: 5th | Sum: 9th
IR: RB Travaris Cadet (ankle), RB Taiwan Jones (arm), WR Andre Holmes (neck), T Cordy Glenn (foot), LB Shaq Lawson (knee), WR Jordan Matthews (knee).
Current: RB LeSean McCoy (ankle), WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee), G John Miller (ankle), CB Shareece Wright (concussion), T Jordan Mills (ankle), WR Deonte Thompson (shoulder), Charles Clay (knee).
Bottom line: McCoy is a game-time decision for Sunday. His potential absence is even more detrimental considering his backups now consist of a 32-year old vulture and 5’8″ 190-pound former seventh-round pick Marcus Murphy. The offensive line has been without their starting left tackle for the majority of the season, so the presence of Miller and Mills will be vital against the Jaguars’ league-best defense in overall DVOA. Tyrod Taylor’s pass catchers have been on and off the injury report all season, but Benjamin and Clay are fully expected to suit up Sunday.
9. Kansas City Chiefs
Average: 3rd | Sum: 12th
IR: S Eric Berry (Achilles), RB Spencer Ware (knee), WR Chris Conley (Achilles), RB Akeem Hunt (ankle), RB/WR De’Anthony Thomas (leg), C Mitch Morse (foot), CB Phillip Gaines (elbow).
Current: DL Jarvis Jenkins (knee), WR Albert Wilson (hamstring), DE Tamba Hali (knee), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder), DL Bennie Logan (knee), RB Charcandrick West (flu), DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches (ankle).
Bottom line: Other than Berry, the Chiefs haven’t had to deal with any truly detrimental injuries. Still, the nicks and bruises have added up, depleting the backup running back stable and testing the team’s depth on the offensive and defensive lines. The health of front-seven stalwarts such as Jenkins, Hali, and Nunez-Roches is especially important in a matchup against the Titans’ ‘exotic smashmouth’ offense led by 6’3″ 247-pound bull Derrick Henry. Alex Smith should at least have two of his weapons available in Wilson and West, who both practiced Wednesday and are expected to play Sunday.
10. Philadelphia Eagles
Average: 10th | Sum: 5th
IR: QB Carson Wentz (knee), T Jason Peters (knee), RB Darren Sproles (knee), RB Donnel Pumphrey (hamstring), LB Jordan Hicks (Achilles), K Caleb Sturgis (quad).
Current: CB Jordan Mills (ankle), DE Brandon Graham (ankle).
Bottom line: The loss of their potential league MVP under center may be too much for the Eagles to ultimately overcome if their 13 combined offensive points over the last two weeks are any indication. The rest of the offense hasn’t exactly been squeaky clean either, as the team lost both of its scat backs and all-world left tackle Jason Peters prior to November. The loss of the team’s starting middle linebacker and kicker is also far from ideal, although both Mills and Graham are expected to be ready to go for Round 2 after having the bye to rest.
11. Atlanta Falcons
Average: 12th | Sum: 10th
IR: DE Jack Crawford (bicep), G Andy Levitre (tricep).
Current: RB Devonta Freeman (knee), DE Adrian Clayborn (calf), WR Julio Jones (rib, ankle), C Alex Mack (calf), TE Levine Toilolo (knee), WR Taylor Gabriel (hamstring), WR Andre Roberts (knee).
Bottom line: Atlanta’s spot on this list is almost entirely due to their current injuries, which could potentially decimate the formerly-historic offense. The interior of the offensive line will be without their starting left guard and maybe starting center against PFF’s No. 1 interior defender Aaron Donald. The potential absence of Gabriel and Roberts wouldn’t leave many options behind Jones and Sanu. The good news is Jones said he’ll be ready to go for Sunday. The bad news is Freeman has yet to return to a full practice after suffering a knee injury in Week 17. Clayborn, PFF’s No. 17 overall edge defender, will be needed more than ever against the Rams’ ninth-ranked offensive line in adjusted sack rate.
12. New Orleans Saints
Average: 8th | Sum: 11th
IR: LB Alex Anzalone (shoulder), T Zach Strief (knee), DE Alex Okafor (Achilles), CB Delvin Breaux (leg), DT Nick Fairley (heart), FB John Kuhn (bicep), S Kenny Vaccaro (wrist), LB A.J. Klein (groin), DT David Parry (ankle), TE Coby Fleener (concussion).
Current: T Terron Armstead (thigh), DE Trey Hendrickson (ankle), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (concussion), WR Michael Thomas (hamstring).
Bottom line: The Saints’ eighth-overall defense in overall DVOA deserves plenty of credit for their impressive turnaround, but it’s not surprising they rank fifth against the pass and 23rd against the run. The front seven is without four starters in Anzalone, Okafor, Fairley and Klein, while Hendrickson hasn’t been able to suit up since Week 14. The league’s No. 2 offensive line in adjusted line yards and sack rate handled the loss of their starting right tackle Strief in stride, but Armstead’s continued absence would be bad news against the Panthers’ third-ranked defensive line in adjusted sack rate. Even the Saints’ famed secondary hasn’t been without their share of injuries, as Breaux and Vaccaro would both play a significant amount of snaps if available. Thomas is expected to continue to play through his lingering hamstring issue.