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Go here for this week's Passing Matchups.
Top 5 Rushing Matchups
Tennessee vs Texans
Derrick Henry is coming off back-to-back games with more than 100 yards and a touchdown. Henry has jumped to the second-most rushing yards in the league this season, behind only Josh Jacobs. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill left Week 15 with an ankle injury before returning to the game. The latest reports are that it is very likely that Ryan Tannehill will be out for the remainder of the season with the ankle injury, and therefore, Malik Willis will get the start for the Titans. In the first matchup between these teams, Willis also started, and the Titans relied heavily on Derrick Henry as he ran the ball 32 times for 219 yards as Willis threw the ball just 10 times in that game. Look for a similar game plan to force Houston to try to stop Henry, as the Titans will look to utilize him heavily without their quarterback.
Houston has given up the most rushing yards per game (167.5), and the team is nearly a weekly feature of this article. 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 list would be longer, but Washington, Cleveland, Dallas, and Kansas City all had multiple running backs go for more than 40 yards in their matchups against the Texans since Week 11. The team has given up more than 125 yards in eight of their nine games since their Week 6 bye. This is a defense that has incredibly poor linebacker and safety tackling as rookie Christian Watson continues to be one of the worst linebackers in football, while rookie Jalen Pitre and Jonathan Owens at safety both have been liabilities at defending the run this season.
Kansas City vs Seattle
Kansas City has incorporated Jerick McKinnon in the backfield more heavily in recent weeks, particularly after Clyde Edwards-Helaire was placed on injured reserve. McKinnon has 8, 6, and 10 carries in the past three weeks while totaling 17 receptions. Isaiah Pacheco has six straight games of 13-plus carries, with at least 66 rushing yards in each of those games. This is an offensive line that continues to be one of the best in football, as the Chiefs rank second in Matt Bitonti’s offensive line rankings, only behind Philadelphia. Expect this to continue to be a split between both Pacheco and McKinnon, with it being game script dependent where McKinnon plays more in a close game compared to if the Chiefs get out to an early lead, you could see more Pacheco.
Seattle has been one of the more surprising teams in the league but has struggled mightily 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 but has been particularly bad recently. The team has given up 174 rushing yards per game to running backs since Week 12, which ranks dead last in the league, 30 yards per game worse than the next worse team. 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 and missed Week 15.
Minnesota vs Giants
Dalvin Cook is coming off one of his better games of the season when he rushed for 95 yards on 17 carries in the wild Week 15 comeback against the Colts. This was Cook’s best rushing performance since Week 10 against Buffalo, and Cook totaled 190 total yards during the game, his best performance of the season. Cook ranks sixth in rushing yards this season (1,045) this season and has firm control of the lead back job in an offense that has a high concentration of their opportunities in the top 3 wide receivers, top tight end, and leading running back.
The New York Giants, after a strong start, have started to trend in the wrong direction, as they have now allowed the third-most rushing yards per game (150.4). The Giants have given up 160 rushing yards to Detroit, 169 rushing yards to Dallas, 165 rushing yards to Washington, 253 rushing yards to Philadelphia, and another 159 rushing yards to Washington in the past five weeks. The team has given up the second-most rushing yards per game to opposing running backs since Week 10 (144). This is a defense that has major issues at the linebacker position as they replaced Tae Crowder with Micah McFadden, although McFadden has been as bad if not worse than Crowder while on the other side Jaylon Smith has been forced into significant action since being signed to the Giants as he has played 50 snaps or more in every game since Week 11.
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