Go here for this week's Passing Matchups.
Top 5 Rushing Matchups
San Francisco at Seattle
The San Francisco 49ers have been a top-10 rushing offense on the season, running for 130.6 yards per game. The team has been going through a changing set of personnel, most notably the change at quarterback, which has had an impact on the team’s playcalling. In Week 14, with Brock Purdy at the helm, San Francisco ran 7% more than expectation, compared to 4% more than expectation in the first 13 weeks of the season. Christian McCaffrey had his biggest game with the 49ers, rushing for 119 yards and a touchdown, while catching two passes for 34 receiving yards and a touchdown. Jordan Mason was the primary backup, running 11 times for 56 yards, and is playing ahead of Tyrion Davis-Price. With no Deebo Samuel, expect the 49ers to leverage McCaffrey and Mason once again and become a more run-focused offense without both their two starting quarterbacks and their number one receiver.
Seattle has been one of the more surprising teams in the league but has struggled as a run-defending unit. The team has given up 160.5 rushing yards per game, the second-worst performance against the run this season, and has given up one rushing touchdown per game to opposing running backs, tied for the fourth-most rushing touchdowns per game this season allowed to opposing running backs. Since Week 10, Seattle has allowed 172 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs, the worst in the league by 30 points. Safety Josh Jones suffered a hamstring injury in Week 13 and was placed on injured reserve before Week 14. Defensive tackle Al Woods left Week 14 with a heel injury, while defensive tackle Shelby Harris missed Week 14 with an illness. If neither can go, their already weak run defense will lose two of its better run defenders.
Baltimore at Cleveland
The Ravens are tied for the second most rushing yards in the league (162.2 per game). The team has gone through a change, as Lamar Jackson is out with a knee sprain, and Tyler Huntley leaving Week 14 with a concussion. This left UDFA Anthony Brown as the quarterback in Week 14, and he is the presumptive starter in the event Jackson and Huntley miss Week 15. Week 14 also saw the return of J.K. Dobbins, who came back and led the backfield in carries and yardage in his first game back from injured reserve. Dobbins’s return put Gus Edwards into the backup running back role and has made Kenyan Drake an afterthought in the offense.
The Cleveland Browns have given up the 11th-most rushing yards per game (128.1). The team started well, holding Carolina (54) and the New York Jets (93) in check, before they went through a stretch from Week 4 through Week 11, where they gave up 160 yards in five of their seven games, including to the Falcons, Chargers, Ravens, Miami, and the Bills. The team has been better, giving up only 96 yards to Tampa Bay in Week 12 and 82 yards to Houston in Week 13 before surrendering 136 yards to the Bengals in Week 14. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has been placed on injured reserve and will miss the rest of the season. This is a defense that is without Owusu-Koramoah, Sione Takitaki, Jacob Phillips, and Deion Jones has seen sporadic playing time and has been abysmal, and now they’re going to need to play Jordan Kunaszyk and Tony Fields II; neither of which have played much this season. This is a defense that has gone from bad to worse as an already bad linebacking unit has gotten much worse.
Kansas City at Houston
The Kansas City offense has run for 114.6 yards per game, the 18th-most yards in the league on the season. The backfield has gone through a change, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire on injured reserve, leaving Jerick McKinnon and Isiah Pacheco to lead the backfield. Pacheco has at least 13 carries in each of the team’s last five games, while McKinnon has taken on the receiver role in the offense. The Chiefs will be a multiple-touchdown favorite, making Pacheco a candidate for good rushing volume.
Houston has given up the most rushing yards per game (165.8). 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 six of the last seven games. The team had a surprisingly strong performance against the Dolphins in Week 12 before giving up a 174-yard performance by the Browns in Week 13 and 127 yards to Dallas in Week 14. Defensive back Steven Nelson suffered an ankle injury in Week 14. Linebacker has been a big problem for the Texans throughout the season, and the Texans continue to roll out Christian Harris, who may be the league’s worst linebacker. But since he is a rookie, and the Texans have nothing to play for, they may as well keep running him out there to get all the tape that they can to determine whether they need to find another option this week.
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