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NY Giants vs Houston
The Giants are amid an offensive resurgence in 2022, which has them in the playoff hunt in the NFC. The team runs the ball on 50% of their early downs in close score games, which ranks 12th in the league. This has allowed Saquon Barkley a big workload, including more than 20 carries per game in five of eight games, including the past three games. The Giants have a below-average offensive line overall but have done well as a run-blocking unit on the season. This is a Giants team that is going to continue to depend on the run to remain in the playoff hunt, as they have the fourth-worst passing offense in the NFL this season, but Daniel Jones has been able to do enough through the air while also providing his own rushing attack to get the Giants to a 6-2 record to start the season.
Houston has given up the most rushing yards per game (180.6), almost 32 more yards per game than the next team (Detroit). 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 out, the Titans ran 45 times for 314 yards. Derrick Henry had 32 carries for 219 yards and a touchdown, while Dontrell Hilliard added eight carries for 83 yards. The best description of the Houston defense is their Week 9 performance, where they gave up 143 yards and dropped Houston’s average rushing yards by more than five yards per game. The linebacker play for Houston continues to be a problem as rookie Christian Harris looks completely lost on the field after Kamu Grugier-Hill was released.
San Francisco vs LA Chargers
San Francisco is coming off a bye, which should allow the team to incorporate Christian McCaffrey into the rushing offense. The team will also get back offensive lineman Colton McKivitz and running back Elijah Mitchell from the injured reserve. The 49ers are 15th in the league in rushing yards per game (119.5). This is an offensive line that is built from the outside in as Trent Williams is one of the premier tackles in the NFL, while Mike McGlinchey at right tackle is a very strong run blocker. Expect the 49ers to utilize this with Christian McCaffrey, who is a great off-tackle runner.
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 been worse, allowing 145.5 rushing yards per game, the fourth most in the league. The team has given up more than 200 yards in three of the past four games, including 201 rushing yards against the Falcons in Week 9. Defensive tackle Austin Jackson suffered a knee injury in Week 9 that will force him to miss the rest of the season. Defensive tackle Jerry Tillery was inactive in Week 9 but is considered day-to-day. The key issue for the Chargers continues to be the play of their linebackers, as Kenneth Murray simply is unable to shed blockers and the Chargers defensive line, including Kyle Van Noy and Sebastian Joseph-Day, is not good enough to keep the blockers off of Murray.
Chicago vs Detroit
The Chicago Bears have consistently been a high-volume rushing attack this season. The team leads the league in rushing yards per game (195.4) and rushing attempts per game (36.1). In weeks seven and eight, both Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery had double-digit carries, but Montgomery took back the lead in the backfield in Week 9 with 14 carries to Herbert’s seven. Justin Fields is coming off an elite rushing performance, with 178 yards in Week 9, and has now run the ball for 40 yards or more in every game since Week 3. This is an offense that will continue to be a run-first offense, and it is finding its rhythm with Fields at quarterback, as the Bears are averaging 29 points per game over the last three weeks.
The Lions have given up the second-most rushing yards per game (148.8). They have also given up the second-most rushing touchdowns per game (1.63) and are tied for the fifth-most rushing yards per attempt (5.0). Two of Detroit’s best performances against the run have come in the past two weeks, allowing 107 rushing yards to Miami in Week 8 before surrendering 106 rushing yards to Green Bay in Week 9. The rush defense has been anchored by Aidan Hutchinson, their second overall pick in the 2022 draft, and Malcolm Rodriguez, a sixth-round pick. Safety Tracy Walker was placed on injured reserve with a leg injury after Week 4, and replacement Kerby Joseph left Week 9 with a concussion. One thing to keep an eye on is the ability of the Lions to stop the mobile quarterback, as they have struggled with that so far this season. Aaron Rodgers, Geno Smith, and Jalen Hurts all topped 40 yards rushing, with Hurts rushing for 90 yards. Both Hurts and Smith scored rushing touchdowns as well, so this could be another big rushing game for Justin Fields this week.
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