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Go here for this week's Passing Matchups.
Top 2 Rushing Matchups
Baltimore vs Kansas City
Baltimore continues to be the league's best-run offense regardless of matchup. Facing one of the most difficult matchups in Houston last week, Baltimore ran for 229 yards, led by Lamar Jackson's 100-yard performance. On the season, despite resting their players in Week 18, Baltimore had 156 rushing yards per game, which led the NFL with the next closest team being Chicago at 141 yards. This is a difficult offense to play against because of the dynamic ability of MVP front-runner Lamar Jackson, who defenses constantly have to account for, while Justice Hill, Gus Edwards, and now Dalvin Cook will rotate behind a good offensive line led by right tackle Morgan Moses and center Tyler Linderbaum.
Kansas City's had a down week in Buffalo, allowing 101 yards to James Cook and Ty Johnson, while Josh Allen added another 72 yards on the ground. Mobile quarterbacks have been a problem against the Chiefs for the last four weeks as they've allowed 25 yards rushing or more to Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Browning, Easton Stick, and now 72 to Josh Allen. The issue for the Chiefs is that they are a team that is built to get pressure on the quarterback with players such as Chris Jones, George Karlaftis, and Mike Danna, who all contributed to the second-most sacks in the NFL this season. However, this is not a team designed to stop the run, as safeties Mike Edwards and Justin Reid have both struggled in run defense, while the defensive line often looks uninterested in stopping the run. The bright spot of this defense has been the linebackers, as Nick Bolton and Willie Gay Jr are above-average run-stopping linebackers this season. On the season, this team has allowed 4.6 yards per carry and has allowed two running backs to top 100 yards this season, as the Raiders were able to do it twice.
Detroit at San Francisco
Jahmyr Gibbs, in a difficult matchup last week, showed why he is so incredibly dangerous every time he touches the ball. While he has been boom or bust this season, largely driven by big plays, Gibbs was able to amount 74 yards on just 9 carries against one of the league's best-run defenses in Tampa Bay. Gibbs now has 11 carries of 20 yards or longer, which is second in the NFL, while David Montgomery continues to be the short-yardage back who does not have much burst but rarely gets tackled behind the line of scrimmage. The big concern this week is the health of the offensive line in Detroit, as center Frank Ragnow is questionable with knee and ankle injuries, while left guard Jonah Jackson is doubtful with a torn meniscus. Ragnow is one of the league's best centers this season, and if he were to miss, this would be a significant downgrade to the running upside of both Gibbs and Montgomery. This offensive line is ranked number two by offensive line expert Matt Bitonti, but without Ragnow, it would take a significant downgrade.
San Francisco's run defense struggled last week as Aaron Jones ran for 108 yards on 18 carries. Jones became the first running back to top 100 yards against the 49ers since Jonathan Taylor in Week 7 of 2021. This defense benefits from having the second-highest scoring offense in the NFL this season as they faced the fewest rushing attempts in the NFL yet are still allowing 4.1 yards per carry to opponents this season. This defense has very few weaknesses and has the best linebacker group in the NFL, led by Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw. The defensive line is more incredibly talented and can overwhelm a poor offensive line, but it is more focused on the pass rush than having an elite space-eating defensive tackle. If there is a significant hole in this defense, it is the loss of safety Talanoa Hufanga, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Replacement Logan Ryan has struggled in run defense and has left this team susceptible to big plays, as we saw with Aaron Jones' 53-yard run.
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