Go here for this week's Passing Matchups.
Top Rushing Matchup
Kansas City vs San Francisco
Kansas City's rushing offense has been a significant reason they've made the Super Bowl this season. This team remains committed to the running game even when it has struggled, as we saw last week when Isiah Pacheco had 68 yards on 24 carries against Baltimore. Pacheco has averaged 21 carries per game throughout the playoffs despite not having more than 20 carries in a game during the regular season. The Chiefs had hoped that they would get some positive injury news this week for Jerick McKinnon and All-Pro guard Joe Thuney, but both seem to be a long shot to play this week as Andy Reid said, "Jerick is not practicing. I'd tell you it's slim for him to be out there", and on Joe Thuney "I think it's a long shot." Without Thuney, this is an offensive line that looks completely different and no longer the elite interior unit that it was for most of the season. Center Creed Humphrey continues to be one of the best young centers in the NFL, while right guard Trey Smith is an above-average player, but the Chiefs have had to move back up center Nick Allegretti to left guard, which caused blocking issues, especially when you factor in that they have some of the worst tackles in the NFL as Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor have both been horrendous in run-blocking.
San Franciso's run defense has struggled in their two playoff games thus far. The 49ers are allowing 159 rushing yards and 5.6 yards-per-carry per game throughout the playoffs, with both Aaron Jones and David Montgomery topping 90 yards. Big plays have been the killer for the 49ers, as they've allowed a 40-yard run in each game, with Jameson Williams and Aaron Jones having big plays against this defense. The issue for the 49ers continues to be that they put a significant amount of pressure on their linebackers, as this is a defensive line that is designed to rush the passer with Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Javon Hargrave, Chase Young, and Randy Gregory seeing the vast majority of the snaps. Up the middle with Armstead and Hargrave, the 49ers are under-sized compared to some of the elite run-stopping units in the NFL. Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner are two of the best run-stopping linebackers, but they have to essentially be perfect every play, consistently needing to shed blockers to make the play. The good news for the 49ers is that Ji'Ayir Brown returned from injury against the Lions after missing three games. Brown is a significant upgrade compared to Logan Ryan, who was a liability as the team tries to replace the injured Talanoa Hufanga, who was lost for the season earlier this year. This is still a defense that allowed just 65 yards to opposing running backs on the season, which was the second-best in the NFL, so they could quickly correct and get back to a very good run defense.
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