Our attention now shifts exclusively to the teams that remain alive in the playoffs, with the exception of major injuries to eliminated teams.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers (Sunday, 3:05 p.m. EST)
Buccaneers backup linebacker and special teams coverage player Jack Cichy broke his arm on the first punt against New Orleans. Wide receiver Antonio Brown is having scans on a knee injury. Cichy already spent a portion of the season on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury; this latest injury will probably end his season. Halfback Ronald Jones played through his quad injury against the Saints, rushing for 62 yards on 13 attempts, but Leonard Fournette remained the team's primary back. Jones will probably be questionable on the injury report all week, but he is likely to play against Green Bay. Safety Jordan Whitehead and guard Ali Marpet were on Tampa Bay's injury report at the end of last week, but both played against the Saints and should be available against Green Bay. Defensive tackle Vita Vea has been designated to return from injured reserve.
Packers linebacker Krys Barnes injured his left thumb against the Rams, but he returned to the game with his hand bandaged into a club. It is likely that he fractured the thumb, but most linebackers are able to play through such injuries. Halfback AJ Dillon injured his quad. Around 60% of quad injuries do not cause missed games, and most such absences are only a single week. Dillon has a strong chance to be available against the Buccaneers. Guard Simon Stepaniak, who had hoped to return this postseason, instead was placed on injured reserve last week to make room for backup tackle Jared Veldheer.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 6:40 p.m. EST)
Bills receivers Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley were both on the initial injury reports ahead of their game against the Ravens, but both were removed from the final report of the week and played the full game. Fellow receiver Gabriel Davis injured his ankle in the first quarter. Though he was targeted another two times in the first half, Davis saw no targets after halftime. Still, the fact that he could return at all suggests a low-ankle sprain rather than the dreaded high-ankle injury. Less than half of low-ankle sprains to wide receivers cause missed games. As always, midweek practice reports will tell us more about Davis' likely status for the AFC Championship Game.
The headline injury ahead of the conference championship weekend is the concussion suffered by Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes during the win over Cleveland. After being visibly woozy on the field following a collision, Mahomes is now in the league concussion protocol. The absolute quickest he can possibly clear the five-step protocol is five days; the median time for quarterbacks to return to full activity (necessary for game participation) is seven days. That makes Mahomes legitimately questionable for the game against Buffalo. The historic numbers for quarterbacks suggest that Mahomes is quite likely to be available; only one in four quarterbacks misses a game after being concussed the previous week. However, concussion outcomes are less consistent than those for typical muscular or skeletal injuries. Chad Henne will start if Mahomes cannot clear the protocol in time, with veteran Matt Moore likely to be elevated from the practice squad as Henne's backup in that eventuality. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland also left the game with concussion symptoms, and he is also now in the league concussion protocol.
In other injury news, halfback Clyde Edwards-Helaire missed the game as he continues to rehab his high-ankle injury. A prospective AFC Championship Game was always the earliest possible realistic date for Edwards-Helaire to return, but even that is quite unlikely. Edwards-Helaire did not practice at all ahead of the divisional round, and most high-ankle injuries to halfbacks cause absences longer than the four weeks that will have passed since Edwards-Helaire's Week 16 injury. Darrell Williams will again be the primary back if Edwards-Helaire cannot play against Buffalo. Guard Mike Remmers played against the Browns despite an illness, and his status for the AFC Championship Game does not appear to be in jeopardy.