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Early NFL Injuries to Monitor for Conference Championships & How Betting Lines Could Be Impacted

Chris Amberley

by Chris Amberley in NFL Football

Jan 25, 2023 · 12:46 PM PST

Patrick Mahomes tries to avoid the tackle
Jan 21, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton (52) during the first half of an AFC divisional round game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
  • Patrick Mahomes (ankle) headlines the list of injuries to monitor ahead of the Conference Championship Games
  • Mahomes’ injury has caused major line movement in the Bengals vs Chiefs odds
  • Don’t miss this breakdown of the NFL injuries ahead of the AFC and NFC Championship Games and how betting lines could be further impacted

The football world collectively held their breath last Saturday when Patrick Mahomes nearly had his ankle snapped in two. Mahomes hobbled off the field, and when he was sent into the locker room before halftime Chiefs fans were wondering if their Super Bowl hopes had just gone up in smoke.

Fortunately for everyone, Mahomes returned in the second half. He led KC to a victory over the Jaguars but there was still lingering questions about his health following the game. Those questions appear to have been answered for now as we look at the early Conference Championship injuries.

NFL Injuries Ahead of Conference Championships

Player Injury Status
Elijah Mitchell (SF) Groin Questionable
Christian McCaffery (SF) Calf Questionable
Deebo Samuel (SF) Ankle Questionable
AJ Brown (PHI) Hip Questionable
Avonte Maddox (PHI) Toe Questionable
Alex Cappa (CIN) Ankle Questionable
Jonah Williams (CIN)  Knee Questionable
 Tre Flowers (CIN)  Hamstring Questionable
Ted Karras (CIN)  Knee Questionable
Patrick Mahomes (KC) Ankle Questionable
Mecole Hardman (KC) Pelvis Questionable

Mahomes went through a morning walkthrough on Wednesday and was back at practice in the afternoon. That’s significant because it was the first practice of the week for the Chiefs, meaning he hasn’t missed out on any preparation yet.



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Mahomes In Line to Play

Andy Reid told the media Mahomes could potentially play even if he didn’t practice all week so it’s encouraging he’s ahead of the game. His style of play was clearly affected after suffering a high ankle sprain, as he was unable to scramble and could barely move around in the pocket.

Nevertheless, Mahomes on one leg is still better than the vast majority of starting quarterbacks in the league. Even with his compromised mobility, the NFL MVP odds favorite was still ridiculously efficient. He completed 22 of 30 passes for 195 yards and 2 TD.

Those numbers won’t make you fall out of your seat but this next one will. After coming back into the game following the injury, Mahomes’ expected points added per dropback was .29. That’s better that it was during the regular season.

Granted, the Bengals defense will provide a much stiffer challenge than the Jaguars did, but Chiefs backers should have confidence in a few things. First, Mahomes will find a way to make plays even if it’s on one leg – he already proved that. Second, Andy Reid is one of the most creative play callers in the game and he’ll make sure KC’s offense operates in a manner that preserves Mahomes’ health.

Bengals Offensive Line Still Hurting

As far as the Chiefs opponent is concerned, it appears like their offensive line concerns are still lingering. They were down three starting o-linemen versus the Bills, and none returned to practice on Wednesday.

La’el Collins (knee) is on IR so he won’t face the Chiefs, but Cincy is still hopeful that Alex Cappa (ankle) and Jonah Williams (knee) might suit up against KC.

The Bengals offense didn’t miss a beat with a depleted line in the Divisional Round, but the Chiefs’ defensive line generates significantly more pressure than Buffalo’s and features a pair of game wreckers in Frank Clark and Chris Jones.

McCaffrey, Samuel and Brown Good to Go

Over in the NFC, the injury situation is much clearer. Both the Niners and Eagles have premier skill position players on the injury report, but none are expected to be limited.

For San Fran, star RB Christian McCaffrey is dealing with a calf issue but it’s of the low grade variety. He’ll be in the backfield on Sunday, looking to score for the 13th time since joining the 49ers.

Deebo Samuel meanwhile, will also be suiting up despite an ankle injury. Both players opted to rest on Wednesday, but are expected back at practice on Thursday.

Philadelphia star receiver AJ Brown meanwhile, tweaked his hip in the Divisional Round, but the issue is considered minor. Brown had a quiet outing versus the Giants last weekend, but so did most of the Eagles pass catchers. Philly ran all over New York to the tune of 268 yards on 44 carries.

How Betting Lines Have Been Affected

The NFC Championship Game line hasn’t changed since opening at Eagles favored at -2.5. Unless something out of the ordinary happens throughout the week, this line will likely close at that same number.

It’s been a different story in the AFC. The Chiefs opened as high as -2.5 over the Bengals but Cincinnati money came pouring in immediately. Bettors were desperate to wager against Mahomes and his injured ankle, and that caused a major line move.

NFL Conference Championship Games Odds

NFC Championship Game Opening Spread Current Spread
San Francisco 49ers +2.5 (-110) +2.5 (-105)
Philadelphia Eagles -2.5 (-110) -2.5 (-115)
AFC Championship Game Opening Spread Current Spread
Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 (-110) -1 (-110)
Kansas City Chiefs -2.5 (-110) +1 (-110)

Online sportsbooks brought KC down to 1-point favorites before eventually making the Bengals the chalk. Cincinnati got to as high as -2.5 before money started to come back in on the Chiefs. Now that Mahomes’ condition seems to be improving, more KC backers have started to show up.

The Chiefs are down to a 1-point ‘dog at some shops and if more positive reports come out about Mahomes’ ankle this week, it’s possible KC could even close as the favorite.

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