It's finally upon us. Super Bowl Sunday. One of the truly great "holidays" here in the United States, it's a day to gather with friends, family, and loved ones, to share some laughter, great company, and of course food. Looking for a quick injury primer prior to the big game? Well, you've come to the right place! We here at The Fantasy Doctors got you covered with all of the injuries that the Chiefs and Eagles were dealing with heading into this contest. Let's dive in, beginning with the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs, followed by the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Kansas City Chiefs Injuries
After suffering a high ankle sprain in their AFC Divisional round game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, Mahomes was able to play the next week in the AFC Championship in their win versus the Cincinnati Bengals. While he was less mobile than usual and certainly hobbling at times, Mahomes still put up a master class performance. He threw for over 300 yards, 2 TDs, and no 0 INTs. Now, Mahomes has had 2 weeks since this game in order to get healthier. Don't get me wrong, the high ankle sprain will still be an issue, but less than it was versus the Bengals. If the Eagles can generate some early pressure on Mahomes with their ferocious pass rush, he'll likely be hobbling around sooner rather than later. Expect a lot of quick slants, screens, and just getting the ball out relatively quickly in order to neutralize the pass rush. Expect Mahomes at around 70-75% of full strength (high ankle sprains can take anywhere from 4-6+ weeks to fully heal). Even at 70-75%, Mahomes is still the most dangerous & talented QB in the NFL.
Once the unquestioned RB leader in Kansas City, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was activated off of injured reserve this week after suffering a high ankle sprain earlier this season. This means the Chiefs will have all three RBs healthy for the big game. However, Isaiah Pacheco has taken charge of the early down RB role, with Jerrick McKinnon operating as the change of pace and third down RB. Expect Edwards-Helaire's role to be minimal.
After missing the first couple practices of the week with a knee injury, Juju Smith-Schuster was able to participate in practice fully on Wednesday and Thursday and does not carry an injury designation into this contest. The knee injury was serious enough to have him exit the AFC Championship early, so it's probably still lingering to some extent. Juju will resume his role as WR1 for the Chiefs, and will likely command a fair share of targets, second to Travis Kelce.
Mecole Hardman was placed on injured reserve earlier this week with his pelvis injury, which means he will be out for this contest. Just a brutal blow to a player at this point in the season. Hardman is one of KC's deep threats due to his top flight speed, which will limit their vertical passing attack.
Kadarius Toney has been a little banged up with left ankle and left foot injuries, and missed a few practices before getting in a limited session on Wednesday before being upgraded to a full participant on Thursday. Andy Reid said Toney looked good, but a head coach is always going to play it close to the vest in order for the opposing defense to prepare for as many players as possible. I'm expecting Toney to resume his role of anywhere from 5-10 plays scripted for him, mainly in the short passing/screen game.
Another Chiefs player with a knee injury, L'Jarious Sneed was able to participate in practice fully on Thursday and is ready to go. He has a tall task ahead of him, with the Eagles deploying one of the better WR duos in the league in A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.
It's been reported that Isaiah Pacheco has been dealing with a wrist injury, but he also does not carry an injury designation and is ready to go for Sunday. He'll resume his role as early down RB. Pacheco is a tough, physical runner, but the Eagles run defense has been significantly improved since the additions of Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh at DT. Expect Pacheco to receive about 15 carries or so.
Philadelphia Eagles Injuries
After suffering a sternoclavicular (SC) joint sprain 12/18 versus the Chicago Bears that saw him finish that game, then miss the next two before returning in the regular season finale, Jalen Hurts is ready to go for this one. The good news? Hurts has not had to do much throwing the ball recently due to the dominance of the Eagles offensive line and running attack in their wins versus the New York Giants in the divisional round and San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship. His accuracy has been a tad off, most apparent on overthrowing A.J. Brown on a deep shot versus the 49ers that would have been completed prior to the injury. The bad news? It's still not going to be 100%, and it's his throwing (right) shoulder. However, as stated previously, the Eagles' game plans have been sound lately and limited Hurts' carries, and he has been wisely stepping out of bounds, or sliding, to avoid contact instead of fighting for the extra yard. In the biggest game of the season, I fully expect the Eagles to open up their playbook, and have Hurts resume his ground attack, running the ball anywhere from 10-15 times and fully utilizing their run-pass-options (RPOs). Hurts is a warrior, and I expect a solid performance from Hurts in this one, whether it's through the ground or air.
Avonte Maddox suffered a serious toe injury on 12/24 and missed the rest of the regular season before returning in the NFC Championship. Maddox is one of the best slot CBs in the league, and will be needed in this one. He was seen wearing a protective boot after the 49ers game, but was able to return to practice and does not carry an injury designation in this one. The Eagles secondary and number one rated passing defense will be at full strength.
A moment of appreciation for the toughness that lies within Lane Johnson. This guy has been playing with a torn adductor muscle this entire postseason. The adductor muscles are also known as your groin muscles and run from your pelvis down to the inner aspect of your knee. They usually tear right around the pelvis and have a significant effect on your core strength. Well, watching Lane Johnson play, you wouldn't know it. The last two games he has held Kayvon Thibodeaux and Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa in check. One of the top tackles in the league, Johnson will be tested again this week, but it's hard to imagine his play significantly declining barring a reaggravation of the injury.
Landon Dickerson suffered a hyperextended elbow during their win versus the 49ers, but does not carry an injury designation. Expect him to wear one of those big bulky braces around his arm/elbow, but will otherwise be at full strength. Dickerson along with the rest of the interior offensive line of the Eagles will be tested versus Defensive Player of the Year candidate Chris Jones.
Britain Covey popped up on the injury report this week with a hamstring injury. The Eagles elevated practice squad WR Greg Ward on Saturday, which tells me Covey will most likely miss this contest, as Ward has been the return man in previous years.
The Eagles punter was injured earlier this season however was activated on Saturday as well. This likely means Siposs will play, and Brett Kern will be inactive. Hopefully we don't see too many punts in this contest regardless.