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Top 5 Rushing Matchups
Cleveland at Houston
Cleveland gets Deshaun Watson back from suspension in Week 13 against Houston and will look to go on a run seeking a playoff spot. The team ranks fifth in rushing attempts and rushing yards through Week 12, with Nick Chubb ranking third in the league in rushing yards (94.5 per game). Nick Chubb has double-digit carries in every game this season, while Kareem Hunt has only one such game since week 6. Chubb is the clear leader in the backfield in a great matchup against Houston. The interior of the Cleveland offensive line is one of the best in the NFL, led by Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller. However, left tackle Jedric Wills has been shaky this season which is something to monitor.
Houston has given up the most rushing yards per game (168.6), more than 10 yards per game above the next team (Green Bay). 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, 143 yards to Josh Jacobs in Week 7, Derrick Henry had 32 carries for 219 yards in Week 9, and 152 yards to Saquon Barkley in Week 10. The team has given up more than 140 yards in five of the last six games before a surprisingly strong performance against the Dolphins (66 rushing yards) in Week 12. Houston has the worst linebacking group in the NFL, as Christian Harris and Christian Kirksey are two of the worst run-stopping linebackers in the NFL this season. Cornerback Derek Stingley is suffering from a hamstring injury and missed Week 12. His status is something to keep an eye on; if he misses, the Cleveland offense could become more pass-heavy.
Chicago vs Green Bay
The Chicago Bears head into a good matchup against Green Bay with questions about their offense. Justin Fields missed Week 12 because of a shoulder injury when he was reported to be a game-time decision but was ultimately inactive. There appears to be optimism that Fields will be able to play this week which would be a significant increase to the Bears offense as well as their rushing attack. However, we should go into it with somewhat limited expectations, even if Fields does play, as to whether he is going to be as willing to run as he had been in games prior where he had back-to-back 100-yard performances and 80 yards rushing or more in five of six games. David Montgomery is the lead back in the offense and has 17 and 14 carries in the two games since Khalil Herbert has been on injured reserve. Offensive lineman Riley Reiff left Week 12 with a shoulder injury and his status should be watched during the week.
The Packers have given up the second-most rushing yards in the league (154.8) and have allowed 1.1 touchdowns per game. The team has been surprisingly porous on defense, allowing at least 115 rushing yards in every game except against Tampa Bay in Week 3 and Tennessee in Week 11. Green Bay is coming off a Week 12 loss to Philadelphia, where they surrendered 363 rushing yards, with Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders each going over 100 rushing yards. Edge defender Rashad Gary had been one of the team’s better run defenders but suffered a torn ACL during the Week 9 loss to Detroit. The team lost safety Darnell Savage to a foot injury on Sunday Night Football so his status will be one to watch during the week.
Las Vegas vs LA Chargers
Josh Jacobs is coming off a 33-carry, 229-yard, two-rushing-touchdown performance against the Seahawks in Week 12. Jacobs entered Week 12 with a late-week injury designation but was able to play and go for over 300 total yards in a dominating RB1 week. Jacobs has double-digit carries in every game this season and 125 of the team's 134 running back carries since their Week 7 bye. Jacobs leads the league in rushing and has a prime matchup in Week 13, but make sure to monitor for any injury news regarding the calf that caused him to be on the injury list in Week 12.
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 151.4 rushing yards per game, the fifth-most in the league, and have been trending worse. The team has given up more than 150 yards in their last five games. The team is extremely depleted on the interior of the defensive line after losing Austin Jackson to a knee injury in Week 9, cutting Jerry Tillery before Week 10, and losing both Otito Ogbonnia and Christian Covington to injured reserve in Week 10.
Washington at NY Giants
Brian Robinson had a breakout performance in Week 12, rushing for 105 yards on 18 carries against Atlanta. Robinson has seemed to struggle this season, but his advanced metrics are more favorable than his counting stats. For example, Robinson is 0.24 yards over expectation per carry this season but faces the second-highest percentage of 8-man boxes this season. Antonio Gibson has taken on more of a receiving role with Robinson returned in Week 5, a space he should continue with JD McKissic on injured reserved. In the eight games Brian Robinson has played since his return from injured reserve, Robinson has led the team in carries in seven.
The New York Giants have given up the seventh most rushing yards per game (138.9). Over the last two weeks, the Giants have struggled mightily as they have allowed 160 rushing yards to Detroit and 169 rushing yards to Dallas in the past two weeks. The team’s best performance against the run was 87 rushing yards in Seattle in week 8. The issue for the Giants is the same issue it has been for the last several seasons, which is that they are unable to get run-stopping linebackers. The Giants benched Tae Crowder for 5th-round rookie Micah McFadden who has also struggled in his limited snaps so far this season.
Green Bay at Chicago
Green Bay will head to Chicago in a game with a lot of uncertainty. Aaron Rodgers left the Sunday Night Football game against Philadelphia with a rib/oblique type injury but has indicated he will play in Week 12. Aaron Jones appeared to be hobbled during Week 12 but did not appear on post-game injury reports. Both Jones and A.J. Dillon appeared limited for Wednesday’s practice reports, a good sign for their availability in Week 13. Since Week 6, Aaron Jones has led the team in carries in all but one game, the team’s Week 9 game against Detroit.
Chicago has given up the sixth-most rushing yards per game in the league (143.9) thus far in the season. The Bears gave up the ninth-most rushing yards in the league in 2021 (125.1 per game) and have gotten worse under new head coach Matt Eberflus. The Bears have given up three 130-yard rushing performances to Aaron Jones, Saquon Barkley, and Tony Pollard. The Bears traded Raquan Smith, who was replaced by undrafted linebacker Jack Sanborn who has been a revelation. After the Smith trade, Chicago allowed only 77 yards (Miami) and 95 (Detroit) before giving up big games to Atlanta (149 yards) and the New York Jets (158) the past two weeks. The team lost defensive backs Dane Cruikshank and Eddie Jackson to injury in Week 12 and is becoming more hampered on an already weak defense.
Bottom 5 Passing Matchups
Miami at San Francisco
Miami is coming off a disappointing performance in what looked like a good matchup against Houston in Week 12. Jeff Wilson has become the clear lead back in the Miami offense but left for a period of time in Week 12 before returning. In total, total Wilson ran for 39 yards on 13 carries in the prime matchup. Raheem Mostert is the primary backup running back, but he missed last week via injury. Both offensive tackles, Austin Jackson (ankle) and Terron Armstead (pectoral strain), left Week 12, with Armstead expected to be an extended absence.
The 49ers have been the toughest run defense in the league. Since their Week 9 bye, the 49ers have given up 51 yards to the Chargers, 67 yards to the Cardinals, and 63 yards to the Saints in the past three weeks. The team has gotten healthy in recent weeks, including the return of linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair back from injured reserve. The team has only allowed 100 rushing yards three times, with a season-high of 168 in Week 6 to Atlanta. Overall, San Francisco has given up the fewest rushing yards in the league through nine weeks (79.5) and the fewest yards per attempt (3.3).
NY Jets at Minnesota
The New York Jets backfield was a roller coaster over the weekend. James Robinson was a healthy scratch before Michael Carter got injured during the game. The team turned to undrafted rookie Zonovan Knight for 17 touches and more than 100 total yards in the game. Carter has an ankle injury and did not practice on Wednesday. If Carter is out, the game status of Robinson should be an indication of how confident to be in any play from the backfield. The Jets rank 20th in rushing yards on the season.
Minnesota has been the 14th-best rush defense (114.6) and has given up the sixth-fewest rushing yards to opposing running backs (79). The defense held the Patriots to 45 rushing yards on Thanksgiving after struggling in the prior three weeks. The defense has given up the fifth most rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks (26 yards per game), a matchup that the Jets are unlikely to exploit with Mike White.
Buffalo at New England
Devin Singletary continues to be the clear lead running back, with James Cook being a clear situational player at this point in the season. The team has run for at least 100 yards in each game, the only team to do so this season, and Singletary has had 13 carries in all but one appearance after the team’s blowout win of Pittsburgh in Week 5. Josh Allen was a full participant in early week practices, a good development about his elbow injury. The game is on Thursday Night Football, but both teams played on Thanksgiving, and each have a full week of rest.
New England has held opposing teams to 109.3 rushing yards, the ninth-best performance against the run this season but has run hot recently. Since allowing 243 yards to Chicago in Week 7, the team has dominated against the run, holding the Jets to 51 and 59 in their two matchups, 78 yards to Indianapolis, and 57 rushing yards to Minnesota last week. Each of those matchups has a limited ability to exploit New England’s weakness against the quarterback run game. The team has given up 107 rushing yards to Lamar Jackson in Week 3 and 82 rushing yards to Justin Fields in Week 7, which has distorted the strength of their rushing defense, but also signals a potential opportunity for Josh Allen.
Philadelphia vs Tennessee
Philadelphia is coming off a complete domination of the Green Bay defense, rushing for 363 yards in a game where both Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders ran for more than 100 yards. On the season, Miles Sanders has career highs on carries (177), yards (900), and carries per game (16.1) through 12 games. Sanders is the clear starting running back and has at least 12 carries in all but one game this year. The Eagles continue to boast the best offensive line in football, led by Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, as this is a veteran unit that has stayed healthy throughout the season.
After giving up over 200 yards to the Giants in Week 1 and 101 yards to Buffalo in Week 2, Tennessee has been an elite run defense and a weekly feature of this article. They had not given up 100 yards in the next eight games before giving up 108 yards to Cincinnati in Week 12. Tennessee had good performances against Josh Jacobs, Jonathan Taylor (twice), Dameon Pierce, and Aaron Jones. The team has lost linebacker Zach Cunningham but got Bud Dupree and Amani Hooker back from injury in Week 12. Tennessee is a dominant run defense and will be a constant problem for opposing running backs. The Titans defense continues to be one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, led by Jeffery Simmons.
Denver at Baltimore
The Denver backfield has gone through a metamorphosis this season. After expecting to rely on Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon to begin the season, the team has lost Williams to a torn ACL and then cut Gordon. The backfield has turned to Latavius Murray who began the season as a free agent before making one appearance for the Saints, then signing with Denver. The team has a bottom-five offense, but Murray has a strong workload, carrying the ball 17 and 13 times in the past two games. Mike Boone has begun practicing after spending time on injured reserve but is not an immediate threat to Murray’s workload.
Baltimore has given up the second-fewest rushing yards per game this season (82). The Ravens have held opposing teams to less than 50 yards in the last four games and have not given up more than 30 yards since week 7. The team gave up the fewest rushing yards to opponents in 2021 (84.5) and is trending that way again this year. This is a team that is only going to get better with the addition of Roquan Smith, who has improved his play significantly since being traded from Chicago he is greatly benefitting from the elite defensive line in Baltimore led by the ageless Calais Campbell, who is having one of the best seasons of his career at age 36.
|Week 13 Rushing Matchups
|vs Green Bay
|vs LA Chargers
|at NY Giants
|at Las Vegas
|vs Kansas City
|vs New Orleans
|vs NY Jets
|at Tampa Bay
|at LA Rams
|at New England
|at San Francisco
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