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Top 5 Rushing Matchups
Philadelphia at Houston
While Philadelphia doesn’t have an elite running back, they’ve been extremely successful on the ground. So far this season, the Eagles have the highest success rate rushing (49.8%). Miles Sanders has been the leading running back, with double-digit carries in every game except Week 8 against Pittsburgh, and is the only Philadelphia running back with double-digit carries in a game. The backup work is split between Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott. A significant amount of the rushing upside in Philadelphia comes from Jalen Hurts, who only had two carries last week, which was the first time this season he has fallen below nine rushes. But it was in a blowout win as the Eagles were leading from the start of the game against the Steelers. Tackle Lane Johnson suffered a concussion in Week 6 but was able to return in Week 8, which is a significant upgrade to this offensive line. Philadelphia has one of the best offensive lines in the league.
The Houston Texans may have the worst defense in the NFL this season, as offenses are seemingly able to move the ball however they want against this defense. The Texans have given up the most rushing yards per game (186). The list of players who have gashed Houston is long, including 161 yards to Jonathan Taylor in Week 1, 157 yards to Khalil Herbert in Week 3, and 143 yards to Josh Jacobs in Week 7. Then in Week 8, with quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the Titans ran 45 times for 314 yards. Derrick Henry had 32 carries for 219 yards and a touchdown, while Dontrell Hilliard had 8 carries for 83 yards. Houston’s defense is a mess, and it is even more troubling the team could not stop the run even when Tennessee showed no ability to pass the ball. The linebacker core is the biggest issue in Houston as rookie Christian Harris has been one of the worst linebackers in football, while veteran Christian Kirksey, who was relied upon to be the experienced run-stopper, has also struggled mightily at stopping the run.
Atlanta vs LA Chargers
Atlanta’s commitment to the run has resulted in the second-highest early down rush rate in close game situations (58%) and their rush rate is 12% over expectation on the season. Atlanta has been committed to the run no matter the game script and has split the workload between Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley, while Cordarrelle Patterson has missed the last four weeks on injured reserve. Patterson has begun practicing on his way to returning from injured reserve, which will impact the role of Allgeier and Huntley in Week 9.
The Chargers were the third-worst defense against the run in 2021 when they surrendered 138.9 rushing yards per game. The team made moves to improve the defense but has not really seen the fruits of the labor as they have allowed 137.6 rushing yards per game, the seventh-most rushing yards in the league on the season. The big issue for the Chargers is the same problem as it was last season which is linebacker Kenneth Murray who has struggled in run defense over the last two seasons. This is a defense that is coming off giving up a 168-yard, 2-touchdown performance to Kenneth Walker prior to the bye last week.
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