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Top 5 Passing Matchups
Cincinnati vs Miami
The Bengals offense seems to be rolling again, with Joe Burrow and company rebounding nicely from a miserable start. Burrow managed just a 66.8 rating through the season’s first six quarters, with 2 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. In the six quarters since, he’s jumped all the way to 105.0, with 4 touchdowns and no picks. Last Sunday, Burrow had little trouble carving up the Jets (275 yards, 3 touchdowns) despite heavy blitzing and iffy front-line play. While top wideout Ja'Marr Chase was held in check (6 catches, 29 yards, 1 touchdown) by Jets rookie Ahmad Gardner, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd combined for 9-198-1 to fill in the gaps. There’s no question this unit is bursting with big-play firepower. They project well in any matchup they might face, and their success will hinge upon whether Burrow is (a) blocked for properly or (b) able to create splash plays on his own.
The Dolphins drew headlines galore for their dramatic Week 2 win over the Ravens, then drew even more by knocking off the Bills last Sunday. But much of that credit belongs to the offense, which sits top-three in most passing metrics. For the most part, coordinator Josh Boyer‘s pass defense has taken a big step back from its impressive 2021. Their last two opponents, after all, have completed 68% of their throws and compiled 718 yards, with 5 touchdowns and no interceptions. Lamar Jackson had little trouble carving up this secondary, while Josh Allen churned through a banged-up front line and numerous drops to fall just seconds short of a game-winning field goal attempt. Some of the blame can fall on the absence of injured cornerback Byron Jones, as Nik Needham has been shaky in his place. But they’re not getting star-quality play from Xavien Howard across the field, and his shutdown ability is the foundation. It doesn’t help that the mediocre safeties have been whiffing badly in help coverage, either. Overall, it’s hard to picture them keeping Chase and Higgins in check when they push the issue downfield.
Dallas vs Washington
The Cowboys now know they can at least tread water without Dak Prescott. Recent reports have been optimistic about a Prescott return in Week 5 or 6, but Cooper Rush will be under center again Sunday. Rush is 2-0 as the fill-in, and he’s mostly kept the pass game afloat, with a serviceable 6.9 yards per attempt and 2 touchdowns. Rush does dampen the upside a bit, but last week he proved he could incorporate top target CeeDee Lamb into the attack. The pair hooked up 8 times for 87 yards and a wildly impressive goal-line touchdown. Even down the depth chart, Rush was able to make splash plays with the likes of Noah Brown and Peyton Hendershot. This Sunday, he’ll likely have Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz back in the lineup, and he could hardly ask for a friendlier matchup.
The Commanders pass defense was subpar even before starting cornerback William Jackson III was late-scratched last weekend. Jackson is no world-beater, but the team leans hard on his aggressive press coverage out of necessity. Last week’s depth didn’t hold up at all: replacement Rachad Wildgoose was roasted, while even solid veteran Kendall Fuller struggled across the field. The Eagles’ DeVonta Smith (8-169-1) and A.J. Brown (5-85-1) joined Amon-Ra St. Brown (9-116-2) and Christian Kirk (6-117) as wideouts who have found little difficulty picking through this matchup. Even if Jackson bounces back quickly, the Dallas wideouts will still project beautifully for Sunday. A strong pass rush could cover up some of those concerns, but Washington’s star-studded front seven has yet to make an impact, sitting dead last in hurries despite blitzing the league’s fifth-most. Overall, the Cowboys will never project as well with Cooper Rush under center, but a matchup this soft still raises everyone’s outlook.