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Go here for this week's Passing Matchups.
Top 5 Rushing Matchups
Jacksonville at Houston
Jacksonville seems to be back on track after having a rough stretch from Weeks 10 through Week 14. During that time, the Jaguars faced an incredibly difficult schedule against Kansas City, Baltimore, Detroit, and Tennessee, not topping 100 yards and any of those games. Since then, they’ve been great, as the Jaguars as a team have run for 192 and 147 yards over the last two weeks. As great as Etienne has been, the team still does have offensive line issues that, when facing a dominant defensive line, can get overmatched, but is a team that relies on the run to establish a balanced approach as Trevor Lawrence continues to excel in his second season.
It feels like Houston has been a featured piece in this article every week this season. Houston has given up the most rushing yards per game (168.6), 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 nine of their 10 games since their Week 6 bye and is coming off a game where they allowed 126 rushing yards to Derrick Henry in Week 16. This is a defense that continues to have massive issues at linebacker, with Christian Harris continuing to struggle while the safeties Jalen Pitre and Jonathan Owens have both struggled against the run.
NY Giants vs Indianapolis
Saquon Barkley started hot this season but has struggled in recent weeks. Barkley has rushing touchdowns in four of his past five games but has not run for more than 90 yards since Week 10, when he ran 35 times for 152 rushing yards against Houston. Daniel Jones has been a highly productive runner, producing at least 24 yards in all but one game since their Week 9 bye. Overall, the team ranks sixth in rushing yards per game on the season (144.9).
The Colts are a team that started the season strong but has started to fall off as of late. On the season, the Colts have given up 122.2 rushing yards per game, the 13th most in the league on the season. The Indianapolis Colts started well, holding their first three opponents below 100 yards, but have only managed to do so four times since Week 4. In weeks 11 through 13, the Colts allowed 141 (Eagles), 172 (Steelers), and Cowboys (220) before holding the Vikings to 92 and Chargers to 101 since their Week 14 bye. Since Week 11, the Colts have fallen off; the team has allowed 116 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs, the sixth most of any defense during that stretch, while also allowing a league-worst 1.8 rushing touchdowns per game to opposing running backs during that stretch and seven rushing touchdowns over their last three games.
NY Jets at Seattle
The New York Jets rank 24th in rushing yards per game (104.9) but have struggled in the past three weeks. The Jets were held to 76 (Buffalo), 50 (Detroit), and 66 (Jacksonville) rushing yards in the past three weeks. Zonovan Knight started including 69, 90, and 71 rushing yards in weeks 12 through 14, but he has stumbled the past two weeks, rushing a total of 19 times for 25 combined yards. The good news for the offense is Mike White is expected to return in Week 17, and he has given the offense a jump start before he missed the past two games with a rib injury.
The Seattle defense has struggled deeply as a run-defending unit, giving up 155.5 rushing yards per game, the second-worst performance against the run this season. The bright spot is that the Seahawks are coming off their second-best performance of the season, holding Kansas City to only 77 rushing yards in Week 16. This was a major bounceback, as Seattle had allowed at least 170 rushing yards in the four prior games since their Week 11 bye. The Seahawks linebacker unit is one that the Seahawks have invested heavily in as they used a first-round pick on Jordyn Brooks and a third-round pick on Cody Barton, but in their third and fourth years in the league, both players have yet to show they are capable run-stoppers. Defensive tackle Al Woods left Week 14 with a heel injury and has missed the past two weeks, but the Seahawks are optimistic he will return this week.
Detroit vs Chicago
Detroit has run for 120.7 rushing yards per game this season, the 16th most in the league. Detroit is coming off a disappointing running performance in Week 16, rushing for only 45 yards in Week 16. Jamaal Williams has been struggling as of late, as he has not run for more than 40 yards in the past four weeks, and his last rushing touchdown was in Week 13. With Jamaal Williams’ struggles, DAndre Swift has taken over as the lead back in Detroit over the last two weeks, as he has led the team in snaps during that time period.
The Chicago Bears have given up the third most rushing yards per game (151.2) and have allowed 1.8 rushing touchdowns per game, the most in the league. The Bears’ defense is in a complete rebuild after trading away Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn earlier this season and is now dealing with injuries to make things worse. Linebacker Jack Sanborn is out for the season with an ankle injury he suffered in Week 15. Hwas a bright spot on this team, filling in for Roquan Smith. Replacing Sanborn will be veteran linebacker Joe Thomas, who has been below average and has bounced around the league playing with seven different teams throughout his 9-season career. This is a Bears that has struggled as of late to opposing running backs as they’ve allowed 149 yards to the Jets in Week 11, 175 yards to Green Bay in Week 12, 112 yards to Philadelphia in Week 15, and 254 yards in Week 15 to the Buffalo Bills.
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