The NFL regular season is down to the final weekend, with the entire schedule featuring Sunday division rival matchups. Included in that list is a South Florida ending to the home-and-home series between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins. For the Patriots, a win is needed to ensure they receive the number one overall seed in the AFC side of the Playoffs bracket. For Miami, there is nothing riding on the game, save for draft pick positioning next April.
Both teams released their initial injury reports for the week, with the Dolphins reporting linebacker Jelani Jenkins (ankle), defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (calf), and center Mike Pouncey (foot/ankle) as non-participants in Wednesday's practice. They listed guard Jamil Douglas (ankle), wide receiver Jarvis Landry (knee), wide receiver Rishard Matthews (ribs), and wide receiver Kenny Stills (thigh) as limited for the workout. They also included offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James (toe), quarterback Ryan Tannehill (knee/thigh), and guard Billy Turner (calf) on the report, all listed as full participants.
The Patriots' side of the report listed cornerback Justin Coleman (concussion), linebacker Jonathan Freeny (hand), linebacker Rob Ninkovich (shin), and tackle Sebastian Vollmer (ankle) as non-participants. Wide receiver Danny Amendola (knee), tight end Scott Chandler (knee), safety Patrick Chung (foot), wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot), linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee), offensive lineman Josh Kline (shoulder), wide receiver Brandon LaFell (foot), safety Devin McCourty (ankle), and offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle (shoulder) were all listed as limited at Wednesday's practice. Defensive end Chandler Jones (abdomen) was included as a full participant.
It will be interesting to see this week how both teams handle their injuries. For Miami, with nothing for which to play, benching some players in order to prevent further, or more serious, injury could make sense. The Patriots could also look to protect some of their players heading into the Playoffs, especially knowing they will have a bye week and could give players two weeks off to recover from their various ailments, but having to find the balance with trying to lock in home-field advantage throughout the Playoffs.
The teams will kickoff at 1pm ET Sunday.