There are a number of fascinating games this Thanksgiving weekend. Minnesota vs Detroit, Buffalo vs Kansas City, and New Orleans vs the L.A Rams are all key games for their teams’ respective seasons. They’re also all too close to call from an O-line vs defense stand point so I shied away from featuring them. Fear not, there’s still six good games in my weekly feast. Happy Thanksgiving to all and now let’s eat!
Offensive Lines That Should Dominate
Seattle Seahawks (vs San Francisco 49ers) – Yes, the motley crew that is Seattle’s O- line is going to finally be in a game where they can run the football. The Seahawks leading rusher is, of course, Russell Wilson. Often times Wilson runs for survival rather than by design. Eddie Lacy & Thomas Rawls average 2.5 yards per carry, Seattle has averaged a paltry .03 rushing touchdowns per game. Yet despite all of the dire numbers the 49ers 31st ranked run defense is just what the doctor ordered. San Francisco’s defensive line is very inexperienced, this may result in a high percentage of the Seahawks running plays being draws or misdirection tosses as opposed to hand it off and plow ahead type plays. 49ers D studs Solomon Thomas & DeForest Buckner are likely to see double teams & the backsides of Seahawks players as they run to towards the other side of the formation. I’m not predicting double digits for Seattle backs but they should put up better numbers than they have been this season.
New England Patriots (vs Miami Dolphins) – This is a much more interesting matchup than it might appear. As I have mentioned in the past despite statistical evidence that seems to indicate the contrary the Dolphins defensive line is good. Against the Bucs in Week 11 Ndamukong Suh & friends racked up six tackles for loss. The problem has been the wretched Miami offense giving up too many short yardage possessions to their opponents on turnovers and too many drives in general because of their inability to stay on the field. I predict that the Patriots will struggle to run the football up the middle and instead will opt for more screens. & stretch plays, Dion Lewis should see plenty of action. Of course New England is the #1 passing offense in the NFL so Tom Brady, Brandin Cooks, and Rob Gronkowski will all benefit from the fortress that is Nate Solder, Marcus Canon, Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney, and David Andrews.
Carolina Panthers (vs NY Jets) – Over the last three games the Panthers rank 29th in passing yards per game, but they rank second in rushing yards Cam Newton leads the league this season in rushing by QB’s with 74 rushes for 436 yards at 5.9 Yards per carry. Christian McCaffrey & Johnathan Stewart average only 2.9 and 3.3 yards per carry. Carolina is tied for best in the league with the Vikings in not giving up sacks but unlike Minnesota this has more to do with Newton’s legs than with superior protection from the line, with the glowing exception of Andrew Norwell who is having a Pro Bowl season. However the rest of the Panthers line has shown great improvement over the last three games and the Jets shouldn’t prove much of a challenge.
Offensive Lines That Should Struggle
Dallas Cowboys (vs San Diego Chargers) – Two weeks in a row on the struggle list for what was one of the best lines in football three weeks ago. Tyron Smith is practicing again this week if he comes back and can play to his full prowess that might render this prediction moot but at the time of my writing this he was still not a lock to play. Joey Bosa, and Melvin Engram of the Chargers have developed into duel dealers of destruction for opposing QB’s combing for 19 sacks in 11 games. Keeping those two out of the backfield is a challenge for any offensive line and of course as we’ve all seen over the last three games the Cowboys haven’t been able to keep anybody away from Dak Prescott. If they had a good run game they might be able to stay out of 3rd and long but without Ezekiel Elliot, they haven’t had much punch on the ground. It’s that diagnosis that means it’s not going to be a great day for the boys.
Washington Redskins ( vs New York Giants) – Lack of continuity and a resurgent Giants D spells trouble for the Redskins O line in Week 12. Washington’s MASH unit of a team got worse this past weekend and those shelved by injuries included LG Shawn Lauvao & C Spencer Long. The Redskins came into 2017 with an offensive line that lead the NFL in snaps together over the last few seasons but that’s fallen apart completely in 2017. The G-men’s beleaguered D came to life last week in their shocking win against the Chiefs. The Redskins already have struggled in both running & passing with their only two bright spots being Chris Thompson, (out for the season), & Vernon Davis. Winner of the last man standing award running back Samaje Perine will see plenty of carries but likely not many yards.
Houston Texans ( vs Baltimore Ravens) – A lot of the blame for the Packers being shut out by the Ravens last weekend falls on Brett Hundley but a shutout is a shutout and the Ravens defense is a hungry wolf pack right now. The Texans O-line hasn’t played horribly giving Tom Savage on average 2.7 seconds to throw the football and tying for 14th in highest yards per run average. They also haven’t played many of the league’s top defenses and when they have, see the Rams game, they’ve struggled mightily. They’ll struggle this week too.