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Buffalo Rushing Offense at Kansas City - Good
The Bills rushing offense was virtually non-existent in last week’s win over Baltimore as the offense as a whole appeared to be a shell of themselves. The Bills never established much of a lead until the third quarter, and as a result, they never established their ground game as Devin Singletary rushed only seven times for 25 yards despite acting as the clear lead running back with Zack Moss now injured. Buffalo hasn’t been known for their ground game throughout the season as this offense has funneled primarily through the air with Josh Allen having the best season of his young career. Allen’s 420 rushing yards in the regular season is nothing to scoff at though, as he has shown to be quite dangerous with his legs while this Bills coaching staff is not afraid to let him loose. Allen rushed for eight touchdowns during the regular season and had one of his better rushing outings (42 yards) against this Chiefs defense in Week 6. While you can never rely heavily on the Bills rushing offense to perform well, and you certainly won’t be trusting Devin Singletary given his limited expected volume, Allen could be the one to keep an eye on in this pivotal matchup.
The Chiefs sport a below-average run defense that consistently struggled throughout the regular season and even into the postseason after allowing over 100 rushing yards and a touchdown to Browns running backs last week. Running backs facing the Chiefs averaged 101 rushing yards per game while scoring the 12th-most fantasy points (non-PPR) during the regular season. This defense did have plenty of success against the Bills running backs in Week 6 (allowed only 42 rushing yards), but they struggled to contain Josh Allen as he amassed 42 rushing yards of his own. These two teams have opposing strengths in the trenches as the Bills sport a pair of strong offensive tackles with a weaker interior, while the Chiefs typically have fielded a stronger set of defensive tackles than edge defenders. The Chiefs’ defensive line, however, is more built to stop the pass than the run as they lack a strong set of gap-stuffing linemen to eat up space on the inside. Thankfully for Kansas City, Buffalo’s game plan hardly ever revolves around relying on their ground game, and that is unlikely to change in this week’s matchup- which is likely to evolve into an aerial shoot-out.
Kansas City Rushing Offense vs Buffalo- Good
The big news for Kansas City’s rushing offense leading into this game will be the health of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who resumed practice last week but still didn’t suit up for the Divisional Round. This rushing offense has held its own without Edwards-Helaire over their last three games, but they certainly could use the spark offered by the rookie. Edwards-Helaire was the lead back for most of the regular season, and while he struggled to be efficient in a number of games, he flashed some playmaking ability the Chiefs haven’t found from any of their other running backs this season--including a season-high 161 rushing yards the last time he faced the Bills in Week 6. This rushing offense has still held their own without Edwards-Helaire though, with Darrel Williams at the helm while Le'Veon Bell continues to struggle since joining them earlier this season. Williams is a suitable back who can shoulder the load when needed, but this offense will be upgraded with their rookie star back in the mix.
Buffalo’s rushing defense is in an interesting spot this week as they come into this game having to worry about a three-headed backfield supporting one of the top passing offenses in the league. The Bills have not played well against the run as of late, giving up at least 150 rushing yards in both of their playoff appearances. This defense is built more around defending the pass, often allowing ample opportunities for production on the ground as shown by their mediocre regular-season stats against the run which included allowing 4.6 yards per carry and allowing opposing running backs to average 97 rushing yards per game. It was also mentioned how poorly this team played back in Week 6 when they allowed the Chiefs to post over 200 rushing yards--the most any team has racked up against the Bills this season. Buffalo lacks playmakers at the linebacker position and has a defensive line that should be largely outmatched by the Chiefs’ offensive line--particularly their strong offensive tackles. The Bills do have talented run-defending safeties who can help prevent big gains--but if the Chiefs passing game is humming, look for the ground game to not be far behind them with a reasonably good matchup here.
Tampa Bay Rushing Offense at Green Bay- Neutral
The Buccaneers continue to utilize a hot-hand approach with their ground attack. Both Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II see heavy usage, but it's worth noting that Jones has been slowed a bit by a quad injury. Fournette took on 22 of their 35 rushes last week, though Jones has been far more consistently productive when healthy. Last week Fournette was stifled by the Saints' powerful defense (just 63 yards on his 17 attempts), while Jones ran well (13 for 62, plus a 44-yarder negated by penalty) through the injury. In other words, the team is almost certainly hoping for good news on Jones' availability. Both work behind an elite front line that features a dominant interior, essentials against the Packers' improved front seven.
The Packers generally struggled against the run this season, giving up the league’s 12th-most yards per rush. Still, it’s only fair to point out the improvement they’ve shown down the stretch. They haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 12, with lead backs averaging just 62 a game over that span (3.9 per carry). That’s a list that includes the likes of Derrick Henry, Miles Sanders, and David Montgomery, all of whom landed well below their averages in this matchup. This Sunday they may find themselves without starting middle linebacker Krys Barnes, who has replaced the shaky Christian Kirksey in the lineup. The undrafted rookie will likely play through his thumb injury, though neither option has impressed. At least they’re protected by a strong front, led by Kenny Clark and semi-breakout Dean Lowry, which allows them to roam the second level. Overall, this is anything but a shutdown unit, and it would surprise no one to see them worked over. After all, Ronald Jones II put up 113 and 2 touchdowns when they met in Week 6. Still, there’s been enough improvement to expect tougher sledding in the rematch.
Green Bay Rushing Offense vs Tampa Bay- Bad
The Packers dominated on the ground last week, to the tune of 188 yards against a suffocating Rams defense. It was encouraging to see against such a strong Rams unit, and it’s made even more impressive considering the late-season shake-up to the Green Bay front line. Left tackle David Bakhtiari was lost to a torn ACL, but this is a deep group overall, and right guard Billy Turner excelled Saturday in his place. The backs themselves are talented and versatile. Aaron Jones still takes on the bulk of work, though Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillion provide strong relief. Last week Jones turned 14 rushes into 99 yards, including an explosive 60-yard scamper to open the second half. That play showcased excellent teamwork in clearing Aaron Donald and company inside, then great work on the second level by star center Corey Linsley. Behind Jones, Williams and Dillion chipped in 92 yards of their own, proving just how diverse coach Matt LaFleur’s attack has become.
The Buccaneers continue to set the standard for an NFL run defense. Virtually no one produces against this group, which has allowed just two 100-yard rushers since the start of the 2019 season. They’ve given up just 334 yards on the ground over their last 5 games, and % of those came on a single Week 17 run by the Falcons’ Brian Hill. Overall, this remains fantasy’s toughest matchup for running backs, and it will be even tougher if star nose tackle Vita Vea pulls off a miraculous return Sunday from a broken ankle. Vea’s return is cloudy at best, and he’d only be available for limited snaps if anything, working back into packages on running downs. The team has locked in a solid contingency plan in Steve McLendon, a run-game specialist who’s excelled in Vea’s place. They lead a front line that routinely dominates at the point of attack, freeing linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White to pursue and strike at will. David has put up one of his best NFL seasons here in 2020, and White returned last week from the COVID-19 list to make a massive impact as a playmaker. There’s little daylight to be found in this matchup, a fact Aaron Jones learned firsthand back in their Week 6 meeting (10 carries, 15 yards).