Top 5 Rushing Matchups Week 8
To view all of our Week 8 Matchup content, please see the links below:
Top 5 Passing Matchups Week 8
Bottom 5 Passing Matchups Week 8
Top 5 Rushing Matchups Week 8
Bottom 5 Rushing Matchups Week 8
Rushing Matchup Chart Week 8
Passing Matchup Chart Week 8
Tennessee at Cincinnati
Tennessee boasts what has been one of the most high-powered offenses in football, scoring at least 27 points in five straight games while averaging 31.3 points per game (4th-most). The league’s rushing leader, Derrick Henry, continues to be a focal point of this offense. Averaging just under 24 carries per game, Henry remains the unchallenged workhorse of this Titans backfield. He has scored in four straight games with seven rushing touchdowns over that span. The offensive line was challenged with the loss of left tackle Taylor Lewan in Week 6, but his replacement Ty Sambrailo played better than expected in his first start last week against one of the top defensive lines in football. If Sambrailo can sustain at least an average level of play, this offensive line could creep back up to the middle tier in the Footballguys offensive line rankings after falling sharply last week. This week should be a great spot for all aspects of this rushing offense to bounce back with a strong performance on the ground.
The Bengals continue to struggle against the run this season, ranking fifth-worst in total rushing yards allowed per game (133.7) with an opposing running back rushing for at least 75 yards in five of seven games. The Bengals have only faced one running back who exceeded 20 carries, and that did not turn out well for them as Nick Chubb rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns back in Week 2. This defense is simply not manned to withstand the punishing style and high volume that Derrick Henry will likely present them with this week. While they have had Geno Atkins back on the interior and Margus Hunt returned from injury last week, this defensive line has continued to play poorly. Unproven youth at linebacker combined with sluggish play from their only veteran Josh Bynes will only increase the likelihood that Derrick Henry runs wild on this bottom-tier Bengals defense.
Atlanta at Carolina
The Falcons rushing attack hasn’t been eye-popping by any means as they average a mediocre 105.4 rushing yards per game with one of the worst yards per rush attempt (3.8) in the league. Todd Gurley has topped 80 yards only once, but he has been seeing solid volume with 20 or more carries in back-to-back weeks while the snap share of backup Brian Hill has dropped for three consecutive weeks. Gurley has shown flashes of speed this season despite the elusiveness not being where he used to be. Luckily for him, he has a top-tier offensive line to run behind. Second-year linemen Kaleb McGary and Chris Lindstrom have taken huge steps forward this season while Jake Matthews continues to anchor down the left tackle position with solid play.
Carolina’s rebuilding defense may have started to shine against the pass, but they continue to play as a below-average run defense that teams have had continued success against. This unit has given up over 120 yards to opposing running backs in four of seven weeks while allowing an average of 4.9 yards per carry (5th-worst) and 10 rushing touchdowns. Their worst showing from a yardage perspective actually came three weeks ago in this same matchup as Todd Gurley rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown from just 14 carries. The Falcons offensive line outmatches this Panthers defense in the trenches as Falcons tackles should easily help create space on the edges. The Panthers continue to field one of the worst run-defending linebacker corps in football as Tahir Whitehead has been one of the worst at his position to date. There is little reason to believe Todd Gurley will not come close to repeating his success from Week 5 in this premium matchup.
Indianapolis vs Detroit
The rushing offense for Indianapolis has been far from spectacular as they are one of just seven teams averaging less than 100 rushing yards on the season, however, this group does have a few good things going for them. For starters, their offensive line remains a top-notch unit that should be well-rested coming off the bye. Matt Bitonti of Footballguys has them ranked #1 in the league, primarily due to having one of the best centers in football (Ryan Kelly) along with excellent guards in Quenton Nelson and Mark Glowinski. The running back situation has been somewhat tough to predict, but rookie Jonathan Taylor has been the stand-out leader who should be primed to take over the backfield after seeing 12 or more carries in five straight games. The wild card here is Jordan Wilkins, who was nursing a calf injury leading into the bye. Before suffering that injury, Wilkins was locked into more of a timeshare with Taylor. If Wilkins is fully recovered, he should see some carries in this one--but still look for Taylor to assume command of what has the potential to be a very potent rushing attack this week and moving forward.
The Lions defense has looked better in recent weeks against the run, holding opposing lead running backs to a combined 92 yards in their past two games. However, the season in total certainly tells a different story as this unit still hovers near the bottom of the league in defensive efficiency against the run, giving up the fourth-most rushing yards per game (117) along with nine rushing touchdowns--two of which did come last week against the Falcons. Linebacker Jarrad Davis has been stellar in coverage, but far from spectacular against the run. Jahlani Tavai has played even worse than Davis, ranking as one of the worst linebackers in the league this season. The defensive line has been better as a whole for Detroit, but they continue to struggle between the tackles as their interior defenders are certainly the weakness of that group. The strength of this Indianapolis offensive line is at the center and guard position, so this will be a clear mismatch in the trenches as the Colts should see little resistance in the middle of the field.
Philadelphia vs Dallas
The Eagles rushing offense has been a league-average, yet efficient unit with 118.6 rushing yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry (7th-most). Boston Scott should be in line for another start this week as Miles Sanders is sidelined with a knee injury that will likely keep him off the field until after their Week 9 bye. Scott saw 12 carries in his start last week and had an inefficient performance on the ground with just 3.8 yards per rush attempt. But Scott did see nearly 70 percent of the snaps along with usage on passing downs, which helps his overall upside. Corey Clement also remains around here, but only saw two carries last week and shouldn’t be much of a threat to gain share in this backfield. The offensive line remains banged up, but center Jason Kelce is holding this unit together while Lane Johnson surprisingly has remained on the field despite playing through multiple injuries. Even with a few backups and injuries plaguing this unit, the Eagles offensive line remains a top-tier unit according to Matt Bitonti of Footballguys.
The Cowboys defense has been questionable all season long, but their run defense has truly fallen apart in recent weeks. Every starting running back Dallas has faced has managed to post at least 60 rushing yards, but the past two weeks have yielded for opposing backfields as Kenyan Drake ran for 164 yards and two touchdowns in Week 6, while rookie Antonio Gibson posted 128 yards and a touchdown last week. Those last two weeks play a big part in why the Cowboys have now given up the second-most rushing yards per game to opposing running backs and have allowed more fantasy points per game (non-PPR) to running backs than any other team since Week 4. Defensive tackle is a glaring weakness as their entire rotation has been substandard, which has made it increasingly difficult for an already suspect group of linebackers to do their job when the defensive line cannot hold their gaps on a consistent basis. If this defensive line plays anything like what it has in the past few weeks, the Eagles backfield should have a field day against their division rival.
Buffalo vs New England
The Buffalo rushing offense has been lackluster for most of this season, but their fortunes could be in for turn-around this week against a reeling Patriots run defense. Devin Singletary has led the way for the Bills, winning the snap share of this backfield in all seven games while seeing the majority of carries in every start since Week 1. Singletary has been inefficient, however, with just 3.8 yards per carry, only one game with more than 60 rushing yards, and just one rushing touchdown. He has failed to reach 35 rushing yards in each of his past three weeks, and now that Zach Moss looks to be back to full health, Singletary’s workload could be at risk. Moss was the more effective running back last week with a nearly even snap share and seven carries to the eight of Singletary, so look for Moss to contribute heavily this week. The Bills offensive line has been decent, and they have a great chance at seeing right guard Jon Feliciano back in the lineup this week as he was activated from injured reserve. Feliciano will be a big boost for the Bills as they already have strong tackles, but guard has been the glaring weak spot to date.
The New England rushing defense has struggled at times this season, giving up an average of 132.2 rushing yards per game--sixth-worst in the league. The 49ers ground game put on a clinic against New England last week as this defense allowed 197 rushing yards and four scores on the ground in the blowout loss. After trying multiple combinations up front, the Patriots have yet to find a personnel package that has been particularly effective as they have now allowed a 100+ yard rusher in back-to-back games and held an opposing lead rusher below 60 yards just once this season. While the Buffalo offensive line is certainly not elite, they should have the edge in the trenches here as the Patriots defensive interior simply hasn’t cut it to start the season. With Bills quarterback Josh Allen averaging over four yards per rush and having posted three 40+ rushing yard performances so far, the Patriots linebackers will have their hands full--as shown when they gave up 38 rushing yards on five carries to the similarly-mobile quarterback Russell Wilson in Week 2.