One of the keys to getting an edge in NFL betting and Fantasy leagues is to keep a close eye on the weekly injury reports.
You're sure to know about quarterback injuries as they develop, but the absence of key players at other positions also can have a huge effect on the outcome of a game. Remember what happened when the Cowboys didn't have Tyron Smith? How about when the Giants lost just about every receiver they had to injury at the same time?
Here, we're going to focus on the Thursday matchup, as the Atlanta Falcons head to Philadelphia looking for revenge for being knocked out of the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl champions. But we'll also check in on Wednesday practices around the league to see if we can uncover particular situations to monitor throughout the week.
With the line for the Thursday matchup between the Falcons and Eagles is down to Eagles -1, we'll focus on the final injury reports for that game below. We'll also pass along everything you need to know about the Wednesday injury reports for the Sunday matchups as they become available.
Falcons at Eagles (-1)
- Falcons: G Ben Garland, CB Isaiah Oliver, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson OUT
- Eagles: QB Carson Wentz, WR Alshon Jeffery, WR Mack Hollins OUT
The Falcons are rolling into Thursday's opener with all of their key players. That's not the case for the Eagles, who will start Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles in place of Carson Wentz. The receiving corps is also shorthanded, with Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins sidelined. That leaves little depth behind Mike Wallace and Nelson Agholor, and as a result we're sure to see plenty of two tight-end sets featuring rookie Dallas Goedert on the field at the same time as Zach Ertz.
The Eagles have players missing on the defensive side of the ball as well. Timmy Jernigan started the season on the PUP list, pushing Haloti Ngata into a bigger early role than expected. Key coverage linebacker Nigel Bradham is suspended for the opener, which could open up the middle of the field for Matt Ryan.
The Falcons are without a depth piece at guard, which should affect the offense at all unless they run into another injury on the interior of the line over the course of the game. The team's depth at cornerback could be tested, but that's less of a concern with the Eagles also down two receivers.
The line for this game opened at Eagles -3.5 in April and settled there for most of the summer after briefly moving to -4. As the preseason moved along and Wentz seemed more and more unlikely to play in the opener, the line dropped to Eagles -3. After Wentz and Jeffery were ruled out for Thursday, the line dipped under 3, where it figures to remain through kickoff.
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Wednesday practice report notes
The Steelers only listed Vance McDonald (foot) on the injury report as limited, though of course the biggest question mark for the team is when Le'Veon Bell will report. Rookie James Washington appears good to go after suffering an abdominal injury in the preseason. The Browns listed five players as limited, including Josh Gordon (hamstring). Expect him to play but likely be on a limited snap count. Two Browns didn't practice at all: corner E.J. Gaines (knee) and James Burgess (concussion).
The 49ers practice report didn't have tight end George Kittle on it, which is good news for the passing game. Only one depth offensive lineman was listed as not practicing, while linebacker Malcolm Smith (hamstring) and defensive back Jimmie Ward (quad) were limited. We already know the defense will be without Reuben Foster (suspended), but it appears the defensive line is back to full health. The Vikings didn't have corner Mackensie Alexander (ankle) and running back Roc Thomas (ankle) at practice, while four players were limited: offensive linemen Riley Reiff (foot) and Pat Elflein (ankle, shoulder) and cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes (hamstring) and Marcus Sherels (hamstring). Receiver Adam Thielen picked up a leg injury in practice late in the preseason but was absent from the injury report on Wednesday.
Receiver Cody Core (back) was the only non-participant on Wednesday, while left tackle Cordy Glenn (shoulder) was among three limited. The Bengals are also without Vontaze Burfict as he serves a four-game suspension. Colts starting running back Marlon Mack (hamstring) didn't practice and seems like a longshot to suit up in Week 1, leaving the running game to rookie Jordan Wilkins and Christine Michael. Reserve offensive lineman Denzelle Good (knee, wrist) also didn't practice, while four players were limited, including left tackle Anthony Castonzo (hamstring), starting corner Nate Hairston (hamstring) and a pair of linebackers in Anthony Walker (groin) and rookie Darius Leonard (ankle, chest). A presumably bad Colts defense could be even worse if they wind up missing multiple players.
The Bills are in good health heading into Week 1, with Kyle Williams and Trent Murphy both avoiding the Wednesday injury report after dealing with issues late in the preseason. Only two depth pieces show up on the Bills injury report as a result. The Ravens were without tight end Hayden Hurst (foot) and defensive lineman Willie Henry (abdomen) on Wednesday. Hurst is still recovering from surgery, opening up snaps at the position for fellow rookie Mark Andrews. Two Baltimore defenders were also limited on Wednesday: corner Maurice Canady (thigh) and rookie linebacker Kenny Young (knee). Young is in the mix to start if healthy, while Canady's absence would stretch a cornerback unit that's already without Jimmy Smith (suspension).
Jaguars (-3) at Giants
The Jaguars had two starting linemen limited on Wednesday in center Brandon Linder (knee) and right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee), while tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (core muscle) didn't practice on Wednesday. The Giants had two DNPs on Wednesday, including pass rusher Olivier Vernon (ankle). He's not expected to play in Week 1, leaving the Giants short-handed in rushing Blake Bortles. Saquon Barkley, who dealt with a hamstring late in preseason, is good to go.
The Bucs didn't have first-round pick Vita Vea (calf) at practice on Wednesday, testing the team's depth at defensive tackle. Three Bucs were also limited, most notably left tackle Donovan Smith (knee), but the fact he practiced at all bodes well for his availability in Week 1. Quarterback Jameis Winston is out for the first three games due to suspension. On the Saints' side, only starting left guard Andrus Peat (quad) showed up on the injury report, not practicing at all on Wednesday.
Starting Texans corner Kevin Johnson (concussion) practiced in full, but corner Kayvon Webster (Achilles) didn't practice at all, so the team is no lock to be at full health in the secondary on Sunday. Receivers Will Fuller and Keke Coutee were limited, as were linebackers Whitney Mercilus and Duke Ejiofor; all four are dealing with hamstring injuries. The Fuller and Mercilus injuries could be key if they can't go. The Patriots saw four players limited at practice on Wednesday, including rookie running back Sony Michel (knee). Right tackle Marcus Cannon (calf) was able to practice in full, and running back Rex Burkhead avoids the injury report completely. Top receiver Julian Edelman will miss the game due to suspension.
Four key Titans players were limited on Wednesday, including right tackle Jack Conklin (knee), rookie inside linebacker Rashaan Evans (hamstring) and outside linebackers Derrick Morgan (knee) and Harold Landry (ankle). That's actually good news, as Conklin, Landry and Morgan looked like they would miss Week 1 last week, but all figure to be questionable at worst on Friday. More good news: Delanie Walker didn't show up on the practice report at all after dealing with a toe injury. Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker (finger) didn't practice Wednesday and seems unlikely to play in Week 1. Tight end MarQueis Gray (foot) was one of two limited players, and his injury could open up playing time for rookie Mike Gesicki.
The Chiefs didn't have Eric Berry (heel) at practice Wednesday, and the team has said that he's day-to-day. He'll likely need to get in some type of practice by Friday to appear in Week 1's game, and the Chiefs will certainly need him. Four more Chiefs appeared on the injury report, but all practiced in full. The Chargers listed Joey Bosa (foot) as limited and Justin Jones (ankle) as fully practicing on their initial injury report, and not having Bosa at 100 percent would obviously be great news for the Chiefs. One Chargers defender, Corey Liuget, is out while serving a suspension.
The Seahawks didn't have linebacker K.J. Wright (knee) and guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring) at Wednesday's practice. Rookie Shaquem Griffin has already been announced as the Week 1 starter with Wright sidelined. Tackle Germain Ifedi (ankle) and defensive end Dion Jordan (knee) were limited, and while that's good news for Jordan after he spent the preseason on the PUP list, the Seahawks cannot afford to be down any offensive linemen with the Broncos on the schedule for Week 1. Seattle did get some good news, with receiver Doug Baldwin (knee), running back Rashaad Penny (hand) and guard J.R. Sweezy (ankle) all practicing in full. The Broncos listed no injuries on their Wednesday practice report.
Cowboys at Panthers (-3)
Center Travis Frederick (illness) didn't practice and is out indefinitely. Joining him as DNPs on Wednesday were safety Xavier Woods (hamstring) and defensive tackle Datone Jones (knee). The team is already without defensive tackle David Irving due to suspension. Safety Kavon Frazier (shoulder) was limited as well, threatening to leave the team shorthanded at safety. Corner Chidobe Awuzie (back) and guard Parker Ehringer (knee) were also limited. The Panthers didn't have wide receiver Curtis Samuel (illness) or guard Brendan Mahon (knee) at practice, though offensive linemen Daryl Williams (knee) and Amini Silatolu (knee) were limited. Williams was once expected to start the year on IR, so the fact he's out there at all is impressive, and having him would be huge for Carolina.
Washington was without just one depth player at practice, and both tight end Jordan Reed and running back Chris Thompson avoided the injury report completely, so the team appears to be heading into Week 1 relatively healthy. The Cardinals were without defensive end Markus Golden (knee) on Wednesday, and he's a longshot to play in Week 1. Three other defensive lineman were listed as limited, including Robert Nkemdiche (foot) and Corey Peters (knee).
The Bears only had two players on their injury report on Wednesday, with safety DeAndre Houston-Carson (forearm, back) being the only one not to participate at all. Tight end Daniel Brown (shoulder) was limited. That means Roquan Smith avoids the first injury report of the year and should be good to go after dealing with a hamstring injury in the preseason. Packers safety Josh Jones (ankle) was the only Green Bay player not to practice, while a pair of linebackers in Oren Burks (shoulder) and James Crawford (hamstring) were limited.