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Go here for this week's Rushing Matchups.
Top 5 Passing Matchups
Kansas City vs Detroit
The Kansas City Chiefs enter the 2023 season with their high-powered passing offense, led by the league's best quarterback, Patrick Mahomes II. Mahomes, known for his incredible arm talent and playmaking ability, remains the driving force behind the Chiefs' aerial attack. However, there have been some changes in the Chiefs' receiving corps. Rookie Skyy Moore joins the team, adding fresh talent to the mix. Alongside Moore, the Chiefs have Kadarius Toney, who is looking to make an impact in his first full season, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who struggled in the latter half of the previous season, averaging just 31 yards over his last eight games. A concerning development for the Chiefs is the knee injury that Travis Kelce is dealing with, making it unlikely that he'll play. Kelce, a star tight end, has been a crucial target for Mahomes, and his absence could have a significant impact on the Chiefs' offense. In his place, Noah Gray is expected to step up; Gray recorded 28 catches for 335 yards last season. Despite these challenges, the Chiefs' passing offense remains formidable. They ranked as the number one offense in the league last season, averaging an impressive 413 yards and 29 points per game. However, they face a unique challenge this season with the loss of both offensive tackles from their dominant offensive line last year. The signings of Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor raise questions about the cohesion of the offensive line, which could pose early-season challenges for the mobile Mahomes.
On the flip side, the Detroit Lions' passing defense had its struggles in 2022. They allowed the most fantasy points and the third most passing yards to opposing quarterbacks. The Lions faced some easier matchups, surrendering 300-yard games to quarterbacks like Carson Wentz, Geno Smith, Tua Tagovailoa, Daniel Jones, Kirk Cousins, and Zach Wilson. The Lions have made significant changes to their secondary, including trading former top-3 pick Jeff Okudah. They signed Cameron Sutton from Pittsburgh and Emmanuel Moseley, who is currently out this week, which will force Jerry Jacobs into a starting role. The Lions also acquired safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson from the Eagles, injecting talent into their defense. While the Lions have talent on the defensive line, their ability to generate consistent pressure on the quarterback is a question mark. Aidan Hutchinson had an impressive 9.5 sacks last season, but 5.5 of those came in just two games in Week 2 and Week 18. This matchup between the Chiefs' revamped passing offense and the Lions' restructured passing defense presents an intriguing battle. Will Mahomes and his new receiving corps find success against the Lions' secondary, or can Detroit's defense create disruption and capitalize on the Chiefs' offensive line changes? The answers will unfold as the season progresses.
Detroit Lions at Kansas City
The 2022 NFL season brought a surprising story to the forefront: the Detroit Lions, a team many had written off, exceeded expectations, and quarterback Jared Goff played a pivotal role in their resurgence. Goff, often seen as a transitional figure, silenced his critics with a remarkable season, throwing 29 touchdowns and just 9 interceptions. One of the Lions' key strengths in 2022 was their passing game, which ranked eighth in the league, averaging 251.8 passing yards per game. What's even more impressive is that they managed to maintain their passing efficiency even after trading away their star tight end, TJ Hockenson, mid-season. However, the Lions face a significant setback this year due to the suspension of Jameson Williams for the first six weeks. Williams, who missed most of the previous season due to injury, has the potential to be a game-changer in this offense, and his absence will be felt. While the Lions boast emerging talent like Amon-Ra St. Brown, who has established himself as one of the league's premier slot receivers, there are questions surrounding the wide receiver position. Aging veterans Marvin Jones and Josh Reynolds, who have primarily played as role players throughout their careers, will need to step up to fill the void left by Williams' suspension.
The Kansas City Chiefs' passing defense had a tough season in 2022. They allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, primarily due to their susceptibility to touchdowns. Despite limiting passing yards to 243 per game, they surrendered a league-high 32 passing touchdowns. In the offseason, the Chiefs faced personnel changes, losing safety Juan Thornhill in free agency and edge rusher Frank Clark, who was replaced by Charles Omenihu. However, the problem is that Omenihu is suspended for the first six games of the season, leaving the Chiefs thin at the defensive end position. Additionally, Chris Jones' contract holdout remains unresolved, raising doubts about his availability. If the Chiefs struggle to generate a pass rush, it could spell trouble for their defense, making this matchup against the Lions' surprisingly potent passing attack one to watch. Will the Lions capitalize on the Chiefs' defensive vulnerabilities, or can Kansas City's revamped defense rise to the occasion? Only time will tell.
Washington vs Arizona
The Washington Commanders are entering the 2023 season with several questions surrounding their passing offense, primarily centered around second-year quarterback Sam Howell. Howell's rookie season was limited to just one game, where he threw for 169 yards and completed 58% of his passes. As he steps into his sophomore year, there's a sense of uncertainty regarding his readiness to lead the team. Despite the uncertainty at quarterback, Washington has assembled a talented supporting cast. Terry McLaurin, who dealt with a toe injury during the preseason, is expected to be a key playmaker for the team. Additionally, second-year receiver Jahan Dotson has shown glimpses of potential for a breakout season, while Curtis Samuel remains a reliable target, particularly in the slot. However, one of the most significant concerns for the Commanders lies in their offensive line, which currently ranks 31st in Matt Bitonti's preseason rankings. Tackles Charles Leno and Andrew Wylie have both struggled with inconsistency throughout their careers, and their performance will be closely monitored as Washington seeks to provide protection for Howell and generate offensive momentum.
The Arizona Cardinals are in the midst of a significant rebuilding phase, which is reflected in their defense. The team has taken steps that suggest they are fully committed to this rebuild for the 2023 season. One notable move was the trade of Isaiah Simmons for a 7th-round pick, signaling a willingness to part with talented players in exchange for future assets. Additionally, the Cardinals lost key defensive contributors, including Byron Murphy, who was a top defender last season, and both of their best defensive linemen, Zach Allen and J.J. Watt. In the secondary, the Cardinals will rely on Kei'Trel Clark, a 6th-round rookie, to play a substantial role alongside Marco Wilson, who displayed promise during his rookie season but struggled with consistency in the previous year. These young defensive backs will face significant challenges as they attempt to anchor the team's secondary. Perhaps the most glaring concern is the pass rush, as the Cardinals are deploying Zaven Collins at defensive end alongside Jonathan Ledbetter. Together, these two players have accumulated just 3.5 sacks over four seasons, raising questions about their ability to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. With a defense that appears to be in a state of flux, the Cardinals face an uphill battle as they seek to rebuild and redefine their defensive identity in the 2023 season.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
Trevor Lawrence, entering his third year in the NFL, is set to build upon his strong 2022 season, where he threw for an impressive 4,113 yards and notched 25 touchdown passes. Lawrence's development as a franchise quarterback is a key focus for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and his performance will be closely watched throughout the season. The Jaguars have made significant investments in building a dynamic supporting cast around Lawrence. Key additions to the offense include Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Travis Etienne, Evan Engram, and rookie Tank Bigsby. This influx of talent provides Lawrence with a wide range of options in the passing game, enhancing the team's offensive potential. However, concerns linger on the offensive line, which is currently ranked 28th in Matt Bitonti's preseason rankings. The absence of left tackle Jawaan Taylor, a linchpin of the offensive line, is a notable setback. Additionally, the suspension of Cam Robinson and the placement of right tackle acquisition Josh Wells on injured reserve further exacerbate concerns about pass protection and the overall stability of the offensive line.
The Indianapolis Colts find themselves in a rebuilding phase, particularly in their secondary, as they approach the 2023 season. This transition raises numerous questions about the team's defensive capabilities. The Colts bid farewell to over 700 snaps due to the departures of Stefon Gilmore and Duke Shelley. To fill these significant gaps, they will rely heavily on Julius Brents, a second-round rookie, who is expected to take on a substantial role in the secondary alongside Isaiah Rodgers. At the safety position, there are valid concerns. Rodney Thomas, a 7th-round rookie last season, will need to make substantial strides in his performance to provide stability. Julian Blackmon's inconsistency throughout his career further complicates matters, making safety a position of uncertainty. Additionally, the pass rush could potentially be an issue for the Colts. Kwity Paye and Samson Ebukam combined for just 11 sacks last year at the defensive end position, which raises questions about their ability to generate consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. This underscores the challenges facing the Colts as they rebuild their defense and navigate the uncertainties of the upcoming season.
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