LA Chargers WR Mike Williams (Back Injury) is out of the Wild Card

Published on: January 13, 2023, 01:52 am.

Last updated: January 13, 2023, 02:12.

The Los Angeles Chargers announced that wide receiver Mike Williams has a fractured back. The injury will keep him out of the AFC Wild Card round against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Mike Williams WR Chargers injured back Jaguars not playing in AFC Wild Card playoffs
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams leaves the field with a back injury in a game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field in Denver on Sunday. (Image: Jack Dempsey/AP)

Williams suffered a microfracture last Sunday in the final game of the season. He will miss at least two weeks and possibly three weeks. If the Chargers continue to advance in the AFC playoffs, Williams could be sidelined until the Super Bowl if the Chargers make a miracle run without one of their top offensive weapons.

The No. 4 Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8) host the No. 5 Chargers (10-7) in the first round of the AFC playoffs on Saturday night. The Jaguars and Chargers is the second game in a six-game slate during Wild Card Weekend.

If the Chargers beat the Jaguars in the Wild Card, they will advance to the AFC Divisional Round to play the #1 Kansas City Chiefs. With the best record in the AFC at 14-3, the Chiefs earned an opening round bye.

The second look reveals the microfracture

In the final game of the regular season, Williams suffered a back injury against the Denver Broncos. They took him out in the second quarter and never came back.

Head coach Brandon Staley was heavily criticized for playing most of his starters in a meaningless game that had no bearing on the team’s playoff seeding. Williams was one of three players to hit the Broncos. Staley vehemently defended his controversial decision to play his starters, including quarterback Justin Herbert.

I stand behind what I did in that football game.” Staley said the LA Times. “All my players are very important to me. There were a lot of players playing in that game that were in danger. That’s the nature of football.”

Earlier in the week, we reported that Williams did not suffer a back fracture as initial X-rays and an MRI came back negative. Initial reports indicated that Williams avoided serious back injury and was diagnosed with a back contusion.

However, Williams experienced pain and discomfort this week and underwent additional tests and imaging. The last round of tests revealed a hairline fracture. The Chargers suggested he could take two to three weeks to recover, but back injuries are difficult.

The Chargers rely on Joshua Palmer and Keenan Allen

Williams led the Chargers with 985 receiving yards in just 13 games. He caught the second-most touchdown receptions on the Chargers this season with four scores. He also led the team with 14.2 yards per catch.

Herbert spreads the ball around on offense, but relies heavily on dual-threat quarterback Austin Ekeler as a big part of the passing game. Ekeler leads the Chargers with 107 catches and five touchdown receptions. Tight end Gerald Everett is also one of Herbert’s favorite targets in the red zone, with four touchdown receptions.

Williams missed nearly a month in the middle of the season with a high ankle sprain. Backup prop Joshua Palmer did an excellent job in place of Williams. In 16 games this season, Palmer has caught 72 passes for 769 yards and three touchdowns.

Keenan Allen missed seven games with multiple injuries, but still contributed 66 receptions and scored four touchdowns. Allen, a former All-Pro wide receiver, could play a pivotal role against the Jaguars as one of the few members of the team with playoff experience.

Betting markets remain stable

Oddsmakers originally opened the Jaguars/Chargers game as a pick’em. Early money poured in on the Chargers even after the odds moved the line to -1 and eventually -2. Bettors ignored the Jaguars as a home dog and continued to back the Chargers, even with a disappointed Williams.

As of Friday afternoon, the line had shifted to the Chargers as a 2.5 favorite. Even after the Chargers gave the public an injury update on Williams, the news didn’t change the betting line. Even without Williams, punters are confident the Chargers can beat the Jaguars and cover the point spread with a field goal.

The Chargers are -145 favorites on the money line. The Jaguars are +125 on the money line as a home dog.

With a total of 47.5 points, the Chargers vs. The Jaguars have the second-highest over/under total during Wild Card Weekend. Saturday night’s marquee game should be an exciting and high-scoring game featuring two of the best young quarterbacks in the league in Herbert and Trevor Lawrence.

The Chargers are +1000 odds to win the AFC Championship, while the Jaguars are +2000 odds according to DraftKings’ futures board. The Chargers are +2000 odds to win Super Bowl LVII and the Jaguars are one of the long shots on the board at +5000 odds.

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