If you’re like me then you have squads that are facing win and in games this Sunday. The performances of the players you, and I, choose to start will decide whether we’re done or enter the final rounds that decide our league’s champion. Can you trust those projections from the “experts”, and from the NFL, ESPN, and Yahoo? As I have maintained all season understanding which team will win the matchups in the trenches will give you the understanding to know if what everybody says will happen for your skill players actually will. On to Week 13!
Offensive Lines That Should Dominate
Minnesota Vikings vs Atlanta Falcons – The Vikings are running the football really well right now. Rookie Pat Elflein has joined a remarkable O-line crew of Riley Reiff, Joe Berger, Nick Easton, and Mike Remmers in what is one of the more under-reported stories of 2017. With the exception of the rookie, the Vikings O-line consists of players that other teams didn’t want. Going against a Falcons D that just gave up 279 passing yards to the lowly Bucs we already can anticipate that Case Keenum, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs should have good games. If the Minnesota line can create good holes and lanes for Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon the Falcons will be in for a shootout that will not go their way.
Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions – Fire up Ravens RB Alex Collins. No team in the NFL has given up more rushing yards over the last three games than the Lions. Although the Ravens haven’t scored many rushing touchdowns they have been able to put up good numbers against weaker run defenses. Baltimore’s defense has, for the most part, kept games close this season which means you’re not worried about the running game being, “game scripted out”. The only potential fly in the ointment is the Baltimore pass game not being sufficiently scary to force the Lions safeties to play deep. If Joe Flacco can score a few deep to medium deep completions early to Mike Wallace or Jeremy Maclin that should be enough to spring Collins.
New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills – It’s been hard to figure the Bills defense this season. They’ve had brilliant games and bad ones. I should say it’s been hard for me to figure. It will not be hard for Bill Belichick as figuring out what his offense needs to do to not just win but dominate an opponent is what has made him one of the best coaches in NFL history. I’ve detailed in previous columns how well the Pats O- line is playing right now and even though I expect the Bills D to play tough, their offense will suffer a lot of three and outs in this game allowing New England to run too many plays to contain them, the Pats O leads the league with an average of 67 plays run per game this season.
Offensive Lines That Should Struggle
Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints – The Panthers last two wins have come over the Dolphins and the Jets which has skewed their stats on both sides of the ball. The Saints defense will be getting back both of their top cover guys Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley and the Panthers are not a great passing team averaging a 4th worst 179 yards per game over their last three games. Because of that, this one is going to come down to the run blocking of the Carolina O-line. Take away Cam Newton’s runs and the Panthers are a below average running team. Returning center Ryan Kalil will definitely help Jonathan Stewart but less so Christian McCaffrey who gets much less work between the tackles. In the end, The Saints are going to shut down the Panthers pass attack and if they can successfully spy Newton the Panthers offense will be declawed and struggle to put up points.
Philadelphia Eagles vs Seattle Seahawks – I think the Eagles will win this game but I don’t believe that fantasy owners of most of the Philly skill players are in for a big day. Even with all of their injuries, this is still a very, very good Seattle defense. The lone exception will likely be Carson Wentz because the Seahawks are not great at getting pressure on the QB. Philly tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai‘s play has improved noticeably over the last few games and converted back up center Stefen Wisniewski has filled in ably at left guard. If they can keep up their pass protection the Eagles will win.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Green Bay Packers – They can’t all be pretty kids. Green Bay can flat out stop the run. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels & nose tackle Kenny Clark are twin icebergs on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. On the opposite side of the ball, the Bucs can’t run at all. I don’t understand why people blame Doug Martin for this; an NHRA top fuel dragster couldn’t get up to speed with the Tampa line… This means it’s down to Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, and DeSean Jackson to move the ball and put up points. While it is true that Green Bay’s pass defense, well, isn’t. The Bucs just lost center Ali Marpet and tackle Demar Dotson for the season. On Sunday Green Bay’s pass rush gets home and the Buccaneers limp home without putting up much of a fight.