The Cincinnati Bengals have nothing left to play for in Week 18 other than pride after being eliminated from playoff contention last week. The Cleveland Browns are in a similar situation being locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC after the Baltimore Ravens locked up the No. 1 seed and the AFC North last week.
That means we may not see many familiar faces playing for Cleveland, and the Bengals may not have players play through injuries that they would if the playoffs were still a possibility.
That will be something to monitor with both of the Bengals top receivers Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase who head coach Zac Taylor says are day-to-day.
Zac Taylor say’s Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are “day-to-day” as Bengals prep for Browns pic.twitter.com/qlQKUY8lFx— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) January 3, 2024
Higgins left last week’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs with a hamstring injury. He returned later in the game attempting to play through it. Chase was a game-time decision with a shoulder injury last week. He opted to play through it describing it as a pain tolerance issue at that point.
We will have to see how these two practice as the week goes on.
Higgins is in a contract season, and with nothing else on the line, it wouldn’t make a ton of sense for him to push through an injury right before the end of the year and hurt his potential market. Chase will be eligible for an extension for the first time next offseason, so for a similar reason, we may see him decide to sit out if he isn’t feeling close to 100%.
Chase is four catches from his first 100 catch season and already has hit the 1,000-yard receiving mark. Higgins is having his worst statistical season after missing four full games and attempting to play through injuries. He will set career lows in receptions, yards, and touchdowns if he is unable to play Sunday. The talent is still quite obviously there. It was just bad luck with injuries sinking most of his season along with Joe Burrow being injured most of the year.
Let’s hope they’re both able to play and finish the year on a high note.