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Go here for this week's Rushing Matchups.
Top 5 Passing Matchup
Dallas at LA Chargers
Dallas' passing offense has been one of the more concerning units in the NFL this season. This was a unit that the team invested heavily in this season as they brought in Brandin Cooks, who has largely been a non-factor, catching just 9 passes on the year, while the team signed Michael Gallup to a big contract in 2022 that has yet to pay off. For all of the weapons on this team, Dak Prescott is 25th in yards-per-attempt even while he is completing 69% of his passes, which just indicates how low upside the Cowboys have on the season as they're throwing underneath low-upside throws.
The Los Angeles Chargers, after a challenging start to the season defensively, desperately needed the recent bye week to regroup. Their struggles have been most evident in their pass defense, where they have allowed a league-worst 329 yards passing per game. This alarming statistic is exacerbated by the fact that every quarterback they've faced has thrown for at least 235 yards against them. The Chargers' high-priced free-agent acquisition, J.C. Jackson, who was intended to bolster the defense, found himself traded to New England due to his struggles in Los Angeles. While Asante Samuel Jr has performed well, the inconsistencies of Michael Davis and slot corner Ja'Sir Taylor have added to the team's pass defense woes. However, there's a silver lining for the Chargers in the form of Khalil Mack. Prior to the bye week, Mack had an impressive 6 sacks, just one shy of the record. His standout performance is a beacon of hope for a pass rush that had been a concern for the Chargers earlier in the season. Alongside Mack, Joey Bosa will need to maintain his high level of play to provide consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, ensuring the Chargers remain competitive despite their defensive struggles. The team's ability to address these issues and improve their pass defense will be crucial as they move forward in the season.
Minnesota at Chicago
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense took a massive blow last week as they lost Justin Jefferson to a hamstring injury. He will miss at least the next four games as he was placed on IR. Replacing Jefferson is no easy task for this high-powered passing attack that has averaged 300 passing yards per game, but it will likely need to be a committee approach. Jordan Addison is the guy to watch, but he is dealing with his own ankle injury and will be a game-time decision against the Bears in what is likely to be cold, rainy conditions in Chicago. Besides Addison, look for T.J. Hockenson to take on a much bigger role in this offense. Hockenson has been somewhat disappointing so far this year, as while the targets are there averaging 8 targets per game, he's averaging just 8.5 yards-per-reception, which is far below his career average of 10.3, although it is in line with last year's 8.6, as the Vikings are just using him differently than he was utilized in Detroit. With Jefferson no longer there, they may need to look for deeper plays for Hockenson or leverage K.J. Osborn, who was tied for the lead in targets for the Vikings with 9 targets last week with Addison.
The Chicago Bears have struggled significantly against the pass this season, allowing 300+ passing yards in three out of their four games. Quarterbacks like Baker Mayfield and Sam Howell have capitalized on these vulnerabilities, posting season-high passing yards against the Bears' defense. Howell's recent 388-yard passing performance underscored the Bears' challenges in containing opposing quarterbacks. The Bears' pass rush has also been lackluster, recording just seven sacks through five games, ranking them third-worst in the NFL. However, their sack numbers received a boost with a five-sack performance against Howell, who has faced considerable pressure this season. Amidst these struggles, there is a glimmer of hope for the Bears. They are set to welcome back key players in their secondary, including safety Eddie Jackson, who returns after missing since Week 2. Additionally, corners Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon are also expected to make their return. This marks the first time in the season that the Bears' preseason starting secondary will be playing together, offering a potential boost to their pass defense. The return of these key defensive players could provide the Bears with the much-needed stability and experience in their secondary, helping them address their pass defense woes as they progress through the season.
Chicago vs Minnesota
After a lot of people writing off Justin Fields after the first three games, he suddenly finds himself as the hottest quarterback in the NFL over the last two games. Over the last two games, Fields has thrown for 4 touchdowns in each of those games and thrown for 335 and 282 yards against the Broncos and Commanders. The connection that Fields has developed has brought hope to this team, as it took a few weeks to figure out. Also of note, it appears that Cole Kmet has become a consistent target in this offense. After having a few big games last season and then disappearing for others, Kmet has 12 receptions over his last two games, including 3 touchdowns. With the lack of consistency amongst tight ends this season, he could be a player that you could potentially look at going forward the rest of the season for your fantasy leagues as a player who has upside. Fields will need to be relied upon this week as it appears that the Bears will be without their two starting running backs, as both Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson may miss this week.
Minnesota's secondary, which was one of the worst in 2022, started the season strong, holding Baker Mayfield and Jalen Hurts each to under 200 yards per game. However, since then, the wheels have started to come off for the Vikings. Over the last three games, they are averaging 297 passing yards allowed per game, primarily driven by a 405-yard performance by Justin Herbert. The issue for the Vikings is that Byron Murphy, who was brought in to improve this defense, has been a liability through five games his season. Murphy has allowed the most yards of any player in man coverage and the 10th most overall.
Jacksonville vs Indianapolis
Jacksonville's passing game has yet to live up to expectations this season, as heading into the season, it was thought that the Jaguars would have one of the most dangerous passing games led by Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk, but so far, they are averaging just 252 yards passing per game. There are some hopeful moments, however, especially coming off of this past week as Trevor Lawrence had his first 300-yard performance, and more importantly, it was the first game in which Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk co-existed, as they had been alternating which receiver had a big game. Last week, Kirk had 78 yards, while Ridley added 122 yards in their win against Buffalo. If this offense can build on that performance, it can still develop into one of the league's better passing units.
The Colts secondary continues to struggle as the issue is just that it is a very inexperienced group. The Colts are starting two rookies in Jaylon Jones and JuJu Brents, as Jones is filling in for the injured Dallis Baker, who was placed on IR. These two, along with Kenny Moore, make up a unit that is coming off of allowing Ryan Tannehill to have his most passing yards in a game since November 2022, as Tannehill threw for 264 yards last week. On the season, the Colts are allowing the 5th-most passing yards in the NFL, 282 yards per game, as this is a defense that C.J. Stroud torched for 384 yards while also giving up 319 to Matthew Stafford. The Colts' one bright spot has been against this same Jacksonville offense that they will play this week, as the Colts held Jacksonville to just 241 yards in their Week 1 matchup.
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