After a week five in which I would give myself at best a .500 grade I tweaked how I am analyzing lines performances. I had drifted into valuing season stats over watching film and that’s a mistake. Stats are useful but they only hint at patterns. They never tell you the specifics of what is causing the numbers. With that bit of growth tucked away let’s get after week six!
O-Lines That Should Dominate
Jacksonville Jaguars (vs Los Angeles Rams) – Simple story, no team runs more than Jacksonville and only a handful of teams defend the run worse than the Rams. If you thought Leonard Fournette was impressive last week…
Atlanta Falcons (vs Miami Dolphins) – The Falcons will be well rested coming off their bye and facing the Dolphins 31st ranked pass defense in completion percentage allowed to opposing QB’s. Miami does defend the run well including passes to the running back. Look to Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Taylor Gabriel, and Austin Hooper for increased production.
Oakland Raiders (vs Los Angeles Chargers) – I’m predicting that what is still a very good Raiders O-line figures out their pass protection woes against the Chargers this week. Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson will have their hands full with Wide 9 monsters Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram but I believe they raise their game. Getting beat means risking Derek Carr‘s season and they know, no Carr no playoff.
O-Lines That Should Struggle
Chicago Bears (vs Baltimore Ravens) – Let me be clear, I think the Bears O-line is very talented. Josh Sitton, Cody Whitehair, Kyle Long, Bobby Massie, and Charles Leno are a skilled and physical force on every snap. They rank high in pass protection and in rushing but Chicago is near the bottom of the league in points scored. Now the Ravens top five D comes to town and I believe that the failure of the Bears skill players will wear down the line late in the game.
Detroit Lions (vs New Orleans Saints) – The two teams in the NFL whose current offensive struggles are tied most directly to their poor line play are the Lions and the Oakland Raiders. Both teams possess strong backs and receivers yet to this point they have struggled to put points on the board. I was a big fan of the moves the Lions made in the offseason. Bringing in T.J Lang and Rick Wagner showed the willingness to spend money to put pieces in place to build a contender. To date though the line has been inconsistent and Matthew Stafford has had to do too much by himself. New Orleans defense is much improved this season and I’m not confident that this is the game where the Lions line gets their act together.
Tennessee Titans (vs Indianapolis Colts) – In the Titans three losses they faced three bottom third pass defenses yet they struggled to score. Rishard Matthews, Eric Decker, and Delanie Walker have not been nearly as potent as their pre-season potential. Coming off a putrid performance against the Miami Dolphins where they couldn’t run the ball either questions abound. The Colts defense is also good against the run which means Marcus Mariota is going to be either the hero or the goat. The Titans line is giving him 2.58 seconds to throw on average which isn’t great but is also the same time as Alex Smith. This puts the onus squarely back on the line. While Mariota works through whatever his issues are the Titans must run effectively. I have my doubts…