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Go here for this week's Passing Matchups.
Top 5 Rushing Matchups
Minnesota at Denver
The Minnesota Vikings have struggled to establish a consistent ground game since trading away Dalvin Cook in the offseason. They haven't had a running back surpass 50 yards on the ground since Week 4. However, the situation is improving, with Alexander Mattison (if healthy) and Ty Chandler leading the running back depth chart. Additionally, quarterback Josh Dobbs is a dual-threat quarterback who can contribute as a rusher. Dobbs averaged 32 rushing yards per game during his time with the Cardinals and has had productive rushing performances in his first two starts with the Vikings, totaling 66 and 44 rushing yards with a touchdown in each game.
The Denver Broncos have been improving in various aspects but continue to struggle against the run. On the season, the Broncos allow 136 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs, which is the worst in the NFL, and separated by the second-closest team by 18 yards. They had a particularly rough outing in Week 3 against the Miami Dolphins, allowing 355 yards, but even if you remove that game, they still rank 31st in the league in rushing yards allowed per game. Opposing lead running backs are averaging an alarming 6.1 yards per carry and 99 rushing yards per game against the Broncos. The defense lacks playmakers up front and relies heavily on special-teams types. Linebackers Alex Singleton and Josey Jewell are primarily tacklers and don't contribute much in terms of big plays. The Broncos' run defense needs a talent infusion on the defensive line and at linebacker to improve their ability to stop the run.
Washington vs NY Giants
The Washington Commanders' ground game has faced efficiency issues lately, with Brian Robinson averaging just 38 yards per game since Week 4. It's somewhat surprising that Antonio Gibson hasn't seen more opportunities in the backfield rotation. Nevertheless, Washington has a favorable matchup against the struggling New York Giants, which could provide a bounce-back opportunity. Robinson had strong showings earlier in the season against the Cardinals, Broncos, and Bills. He also receives a solid share of red-zone work with 20 touches so far.
While the Giants' run defense seemed to improve for a few weeks, they have recently regressed, allowing chunk gains and productive performances from opposing running backs. In the past two weeks, Josh Jacobs and Cowboys change-of-pace back Rico Dowdle found open space to produce on the ground, both topping 75 yards rushing. Five running backs this season have accumulated over 75 yards against this Giants defense. The Giants' struggles are often exacerbated by unfavorable game flow, allowing opponents to control the game on the ground. Despite having talent on the defensive line and linebacker Bobby Okereke enjoying a breakout year as a playmaker, the Giants' defense remains vulnerable. It is a favorable target for fantasy purposes.
Dallas at Carolina
The Dallas Cowboys have been emphasizing their passing game recently, with Dak Prescott dropping back to pass on 62% of plays over the last three games. However, when they do decide to run the ball, they continue to get efficient production from their running backs, including Tony Pollard. In 2023, their rushing attack ranks 11th in ground yards per game. They benefit from having the second-best run-blocking offensive line in the league, according to Matt Bitonti's rankings, and could potentially have three of their linemen make the All-Pro team. In Week 10, Rico Dowdle had a productive outing, accumulating 79 yards and a touchdown in a clock-killing role. The Cowboys' offensive line superiority should give them an advantage against the Carolina Panthers' front seven.
As for the Panthers, they appear to be in a rebuilding phase, and rookie quarterback Bryce Young has yet to spark the offense. Their defense has struggled, allowing six opposing running backs to rush for 75 or more yards through nine games. They rank 24th in the league in yards allowed per carry, and no team has surrendered more rushing touchdowns than the Panthers. While they have some talent on the defensive side, such as versatile tackle Derrick Brown and emerging linebacker Frankie Luvu, they still face challenges, particularly against the run. Opponents have exploited gaps, especially on the outside, to control games against the struggling Panthers. This could present an opportunity for Tony Pollard and the Cowboys' rushing attack to bounce back and have a productive outing.
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