Each week of the NFL season, injuries alter the landscape. Football is a rough game, after all, and people frequently get hurt playing it. Oftentimes, those people have a significant impact on subsequent games. Which NFL Week 5 injuries move the needle — or don’t, as the case may be?
TheLines will examine each week’s injury report on Thursday, typically the biggest “swing” day. That is, players who miss practice Thursday often sit out, and those who can practice usually play. We’ll try to divine what effect these injuries should have on markets from game spreads to player props. Games on Thursday Night Football won’t be included in this piece.
Keep in mind this list is by no means exhaustive. There are too many potential impactful injuries each week. As injury developments happen, we will update our NFL Betting News page.
Most Impactful NFL Week 5 Injuries
Falcons Traveling Without Top Two WRs
Last week, the Jets found themselves in the fortunate position of facing a Titans team down its two superstar WRs. They converted that advantage into their first win of the season after looking inept in the opening weeks.
Amazingly enough, history has repeated itself just one week later. The Falcons already announced they’ll travel to London without both Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage.
The Falcons have had a tough enough time producing offense with those two in the lineup. They rank ahead of only the Jets according to Football Outsiders. New Coach Arthur Smith has struggled to match the hype. TE Kyle Pitts in particular has produced below expectations.
Now, Pitts will receive even more defensive attention. It’s never good when Olamide Zaccheaus is your top wideout. Unless you have an extraordinary amount of confidence in Tajae Sharpe. It’s also possible converted WR/current RB Cordarrelle Patterson plays more snaps at WR.
The Jets have quietly put together a competitive defense despite a severe lack of talent. Robert Saleh appears to be doing his thing on that side of the ball, and the suddenly short-handed Falcons present an easier-than-expected target for him.
Hunt for a nice number on under the Falcons team total if you think the Jets can repeat last week’s success.
Patriots Offensive Line Wrecked By Injuries, COVID-19
The Patriots entered the season with a strong offensive line that also had some solid depth. Said depth might get a severe test in Week 5 as injuries and COVID-19 protocols have combined to leave the team down to just one starter.
The first alarm bells rang early in the week when the entire left side — LT Isaiah Wynn and LG Mike Onwenu — was announced as having entered COVID protocol. Wynn has been a standout performer for the Pats, while Onwenu was shockingly good as a sixth-round rookie last year.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, RG Shaq Mason and RT Trent Brown have yet to practice this week. If they can’t go against the Texans, David Andrews would be the only remaining starter.
Keep a close eye on this one, with the Patriots big favorites. It’s anyone’s guess how an offense with four backups in would perform. Survivor players in particular who have New England circled may want to pivot.
Can Bears Defense Hold Up Without Mack, Hicks?
Superstar EDGE Khalil Mack and standout DL Akeem Hicks played a combined 35 snaps in the win over the Lions last week.
While it looked like the Bears had a big day on that end, the Lions actually had more success than many have realized. They drove inside the 10 several times before fizzling out. Failed fourth-down tries cost them, but that’s not a sustainable way for the Bears to prevent points.
Even if Mack goes this week, he’s reportedly nursing multiple injuries. How effective can he be in that scenario?
Raiders QB Derek Carr tends to quickly dump off the ball if he feels any pressure, while he will take some big shots downfield out of clean pockets. Henry Ruggs III is much more dangerous in the latter situation, which the Bears would prefer to avoid altogether by getting to the QB.
Mack is one of the few defenders you can be confident makes an impact individually on his team’s outlook. If he and Hicks both sit here, the Raiders’ scoring outlook improves quite a bit.
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Other NFL Week 5 Injuries To Keep An Eye On
Will Teddy Bridgewater Clear Concussion Protocol?
Broncos fans had to be thrilled with the team’s start to the season, but things are threatening to go downhill in a hurry. They finally dropped a game at the hands of Baltimore. Worse yet, QB Teddy Bridgewater yielded to Drew Lock after sustaining an injury that left him in concussion protocol.
While the two QBs reportedly engaged in a close battle for the job in the preseason, Bridgewater has produced at a high level and cemented himself as the starter. Their offense, bottom three in the league in DVOA last year, has jumped into the middle of the pack against an admittedly butter-soft schedule.
Lock has been a mistake-prone QB who also shows the ability to make big plays at times. He’s a poor fit on a team that wants to reduce its offensive variance and just be solid on that end while the defense does a lot of heavy lifting.
Bridgewater certainly brings solid. He might not be a guy you think of as hugely impactful but the downgrade to Lock on the road here against tough pass rush seems tangible. The good news is Bridgewater returned to practice on Thursday, so he has cleared at least an initial concussion protocol stage or two. Of all the NFL Week 5 injuries, this one could go into the weekend, awaiting word on if he’s fully cleared.
Will Trey Lance Draw First Start?
No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance appears likely to make his starting debut earlier than the 49ers had planned thanks to a calf injury to starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Lance had a fairly ugly half leading the offense against Seattle. His numbers look better than his performance thanks to a garbage-time TD drive and a 76-yard freebie of a TD on a blown coverage.
Arizona has produced a fairly strong pass rush that has helped mask a secondary that’s weak on paper.
Luckily for Lance, he has noted game planner Kyle Shanahan backing him along with a running game — and his own athleticism — that can help slow down the opposing rush.
Garoppolo reportedly said he wants to see how the calf holds up through a Friday practice. See how that goes before making a final decision here, but he seems an underdog to suit up.
Packers Missing Elite CB
Jaire Alexander has been one of the best corners in the NFL for the last few years. He’s a premium performer at a premium position and a player the opposing offense must game plan for every time out.
Unfortunately for the Packers, he injured his shoulder and the team is now just hoping he can avoid season-ending surgery.
The good news is the team looks like it may have nailed another first-round corner in Eric Stokes. He looks like a potential star in the very early going.
The bad news is two-fold. First, the team doesn’t have the pass rush to make up for losing Alexander, particularly with top rusher Za’Darius Smith on IR. They’ve produced pressure at one of the lower rates in the league this season.
Second, the Bengals present a particularly troublesome matchup for a team one-deep (at most) with reliable corners. They bring three strong WRs to the table with Tee Higgins trending toward returning to action. And they come in on extra rest here after a Thursday win last week.
Look to Bengals and the over if you think the market undervalues Alexander’s absence.
Bills Coverage Unit Banged Up Ahead Of Huge Game
The Bills have begun building some hype around their defense after pitching two shutouts in their past three games. OK, so the competition hasn’t been the stiffest, but the degree to which both DVOA and EPA love this defense really jumps off the page.
They get the most stern test possible here. Kansas City’s disappointing start owes basically nothing to the offense, which has been as strong as expected.
That’s the worst time to see the coverage unit dinged up, but the Bills face exactly that scenario. Linebacking coverage ace Matt Milano, who figures to draw some Travis Kelce duty in an ideal world, has not practiced. Meanwhile, CB Tre’Davious White and S Jordan Poyer are nursing injuries that they’re playing through.
We don’t normally fret over limited participants in this space, but among NFL week 5 injuries, facing the Chiefs on the road means the Bills can ill afford these guys being less than full strength.
Tampa Bay Potentially Down Four Rotation Members In Secondary
Among NFL week 5 injuries to defensive backs, the damage to the Tampa Bay secondary has gotten rather extensive.
- CB Sean Murphy-Bunting on IR
- CB Carlton Davis on IR
- S Antoine Winfield Jr. doubtful
- CB Jamel Dean questionable
That’s three starters plus top nickel corner Dean. Ross Cockrell has filled in ably but newly signed CB Richard Sherman got burned several times by New England’s unexciting passing game. Pierre Desir is in line for snaps and every Colts and Jets fan can tell you how that will go.
The good news for the Bucs is that if you’re ever going to miss multiple key members of the secondary, the Dolphins are one of the first teams you’d like to face. This passing offense has been simply awful this season. Jacoby Brissett prefers to work short, which could limit the damage here.
On the other hand, even if the Bucs build a lead, covering a big number like may prove difficult with backup DBs struggling to cover anyone and slam the door shut.