And here we go!
The 2021 NFL Playoffs kick off Saturday afternoon after an exciting and unpredictable season. Several teams are getting healthy at the right time, including the Bills and Cowboys. Others, like the Buccaneers and Cardinals, are limping into their Wild Card matchup, hoping to pull it together.
Interpreting the injury reports and lines can be difficult with the vagueness and gamesmanship seen with several teams, potentially scaring off bettors. Other times, the return of a key performer may instill false hope for someone looking for an upset.
Having a licensed physical therapist interpret the NFL Wild Card Playoff injury reports provides you with the information you won’t find anywhere else. It also helps you make clear-cut decisions on tight lines and take advantage of injury mismatches before the odds change.
Below are the top NFL Wild Card Playoff injuries to consider when placing your Wild Card Playoff NFL betting picks.
Please note that all NFL Wild Card Playoff odds and lines are current as of 10:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, January 13.
NFL Wild Card Playoff Injuries & Betting Tips
Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams (Right Turf Toe)
Los Angeles Rams vs Arizona Cardinals
Matthew Stafford limped around in pain following a hit from 49ers DL Arden Key late in the fourth quarter. Key fell onto Stafford’s heel, driving his foot into the ground. Stafford immediately grabbed at his foot in pain but managed to finish the game.
Turf toe is when the great toe is pushed into hyperextension, spraining the metatarsophalangeal joint. While appearing mild, this could affect his ability to follow through on deep throws but may limit more of his ability to scramble if he gets flushed out of the pocket.
Bracing/inserts along with an injection can provide relief, but pain can set in later during the game, limiting his mobility.
- Read our full Wild Card Playoff Rams vs Cardinals betting picks & tips.
Even with the potential return of JJ Watt from his shoulder injury, as long as the Rams offensive line can give Stafford time in the pocket, this injury shouldn’t limit him.
The Rams are far healthier and have the talent necessary to win this game. This makes my NFL bet of the day 2 units on the Rams to cover the spread -4 (-110) at Caesars.
Sportsbook Play of the Day
Before diving into our NFL Wild Card Playoff betting tips, you should know that Caesars Sportsbook is one of the best around. Take advantage of Caesars’ outstanding welcome bonus which matches your first bet (win or lose) up to $1,001 when you use our promo code .
Additionally, users who place $100 in bets on NBA games are eligible to receive a FREE NBA jersey.
Read Chris Wassel’s Caesars Sportsbook review for more insight and get your welcome bonus below, or continue reading this analysis for our NFL Wild Card Playoff injury updates.
Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Right Elbow Injury)
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs
Najee Harris suffered a right elbow injury after attempting to plant his right hand into the turf to maintain stability while being tackled. While Harris’ arm was planted, the defender’s momentum continued moving forward and to the left, twisting Harris’ elbow violently before his hand sprung free from the ground.
It’s not clear whether the force was valgus in nature, stressing the ulnar collateral ligament, or hyperextending the elbow, leading to a possible subluxation. This could be generalized as an elbow sprain regardless of the structures injured.
- Read our full Wild Card Playoffs Steelers vs Chiefs betting picks & tips.
Harris will likely require bracing to the area for stability and swelling, but he may struggle to keep defenders away or carry the ball on the right side, leading to potential ball security issues.
While the Kansas City Chiefs are the heavy favorites, I believe Pittsburgh’s defense can keep the score much closer than the last time these teams played. This makes my betting pick 1 unit on the Steelers to cover the spread +12.5 (-110) at Caesars.
Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders (Left Knee/Back Injuries)
Las Vegas Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals
Darren Waller finally returned to the lineup in Week 18 following injuries to his back, his left IT band in his knee, and spending time on the COVID/Reserve list.
Despite being listed with a knee injury this week, it’s quite possible that his back injury was the primary limitation. He may still be dealing with irritation at the insertion point of the IT band, but this can be played through.
IT band strains are typically from overuse in runners with the IT band, providing stability during walking and running.
- Read our full Wild Card Playoffs Raiders vs Bengals betting picks & tips.
Upon Waller’s return in Week 18, he saw 9 targets and recorded 2 receptions for 22 yards, his lowest output of the season. While I do expect him to increase his production against the Bengals, I do not believe Waller is close to fully healthy, which gives a significant edge to the Bengals.
The Bengals are as hot as any team heading into the playoffs and appear to be willing to boat-race the competition in order to secure their first playoff win since 1990.
This makes my betting pick 1 unit on the Bengals (-240) at Caesars.
Trent Williams, LT, San Francisco 49ers (Right Elbow Injury)
San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys
Trent Williams missed the Week 18 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams due to a right elbow sprain originally suffered the week prior against the Houston Texans. The injury appeared to occur late in the fourth quarter, but the exact injury isn’t identified on film.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan described it as an elbow sprain, which can be managed with bracing to the area to provide stability. The concern is that the severity isn’t known, which could make blocking the inside rusher difficult or losing leverage if his block gets away from his body, further stressing the already injured elbow.
- Read our full Wild Card Playoffs 49ers vs Cowboys betting pick & tips.
Thankfully, an injured Williams is still better than most options in the NFL. However, having to block Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence as he protects Jimmy Garoppolo’s blindside is no small task, and things could get out of hand if Williams exits early or Garoppolo struggles with his own thumb injury.
With updates to Williams and Garoppolo, the NFL gameday odds may change, but for now, this makes my betting pick 1 unit on the Under 51 (-110) at Caesars.
Other Notable Injuries
- Philadelphia Eagles RB Miles Sanders is set to return for the playoffs following his left-hand fracture suffered in Week 16, missing the last two games.
- New Orleans Saints QB Taysom Hill suffered a Lisfranc fracture to his left foot that will require multiple surgeries and a 6-to-9 month recovery, placing Week 1 of the 2022 season in doubt.
- Seattle Seahawks CB Quandre Diggs suffered a right fibular fracture and ankle dislocation on Sunday, placing a question mark on his free agency plans.
Kyle’s Injury Report Betting Record: 56-39, +6.36 Units