I don’t pick winners and losers I tell you how O-lines vs D-lines will impact skill performers. However if you still need my advice then you are already a winner and two more wins away from being called champ! Let’s go get ’em!
Offensive Lines That Should Dominate
Los Angeles Rams vs Seattle Seahawks -Seattle’s defense failed to register a sack against the Jaguars in week 14. They’ve also been steadily giving up longer and longer plays in the passing game because of their inability to get pressure on opposing QB’s. Jared Goff has already shown that this year if he has time he can be deadly accurate. He’s averaging a gaudy 70% completion percentage over his last three games. Just like Dr. Who Jamon Brown, Rob Havenstein, and the other Rams lineman have been stout to stellar all season long and have given Goff and Todd Gurley time & space. Too many weapons x too much time = many, many yards for the Rams.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots – The Steelers put up 486 passing yards against the Ravens, they also gained 152 yards on the ground. Although the Patriots defense had stabilized in the second half of the season they continue to be vulnerable to deep routes and misdirection from the offense. The fact that Ben Roethlisberger is an almost exclusively pocket passer at this stage of his career actual works in New England’s favor, but I believe not enough. The killer “B’s” are the most lethal threesome in the league right now and the Pats simply do not have enough talent on defense to get past David DeCastro and one of the NFL’s best offensive lines and disrupt, hurry, pressure or even annoy the Steelers.
Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills – The Bills have the 27th ranked run defense in the NFL and have actually been performing worse than that over the last three weeks. We all saw what Kenyon Drake did against the Patriots on MNF. Some of the holes were more because of the poor rush defense of the Patriots but Laremy Tunsill and the Fins line executed their blocking assignments very well. The Bills run defense is only marginally better than the Patriots in yards per rush which means they often give up long runs. Add to that the fact that Jarvis “Juice” Landry will almost certainly be drawing double coverage on most of the plays and Buffalo will be unable to commit a safety to run support. I expect Jay Cutler to use the run game early and often and then start using play action to hit targets deep downfield.
Offensive Lines That Should Struggle
Kansas City Chiefs vs Los Angeles Chargers – With center Mitch Morse out for the season and Kansas City already giving up around three sacks per game the Chiefs now get to struggle with elite edge rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram of the surging L.A Chargers. Expect Alex Smith to use a lot of quick passes and screens early to try to get the K.C speedsters Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt out into space with room to run. Once the Chargers adjust K.C will start to struggle to move the ball. If for any reason Smith can not get the ball out quickly he will feel the wrath of what has turned into a very good young Chargers defense.
Green Bay Packers vs Carolina Panthers – All hail the return of King Rodgers of the North. The biggest problem for Green Bay is going to be the same thing that lead to Aaron Rodgers‘ broken collarbone in the first place; the Packers struggle with opposing pass rushes. The Packers offensive line is, “healthy”, (what constitutes a healthy NFL lineman in December would put us in a hospital bed). But has simply lacked the speed to deal with speed coming at them, whether it’s from the edge or up the middle. I’m sure Rodgers will have an impact but it’s going to be difficult for Green Bay to hit anything deep or run with any real authority.
Tennessee Titans vs San Francisco 49ers -Quietly the 49ers defense has improved in both halting the run and grounding the passing game. I expect them to give the very disorganized offense of the Titans a seriously hard time. There’s also something very wrong with the Titans play calling. There is no excuse for this team with Marcus Mariota and the receiving corps he has to connect with to have the 27th ranked passing attack in the NFL. Yes Ben Jones and the offensive line give up a little too much pressure to opposing pass rushes but they could handle that easily with a quick passing attack. In their game against the Cardinals in week 14 there was far too many lateral or “stretch” plays and very little short passing. Additionally The Titans’ staff continued baffling use of DeMarco Murray over Derrick Henry has been tough to watch. There’s no guarantee that the Titans make the playoffs