Who will be serving up a platter of pancake blocks this weekend? Who will let their QB be lunch?
Offensive Lines That Should Dominate
1. Oakland Raiders – Tennessee does boast three sack studs in Casey, Orakpo, and Morgan but they were near the bottom of the league last season in pass defense giving up over 269 yards per game. That same D is top five against the run making Jack Del Rio’s playbook choices obvious, go deep…often. When a great line like the Raiders has their lives made easier they will have a big game. Look for Cooper, Crabtree, and Jared Cook to put up numbers. If you own Johnathan Cyprien or Logan Ryan in an IDP league start them, they’re going to lead the team in tackles.
2. Carolina Panthers – The 49ers are years away from being imposing in either run or pass defense. Add in a better, healthier offense with lots of shiny toys for Cam to play with and the Panthers should make quick work of San Fran. The Kalil brothers playing together for the first time since high school will be interesting to watch as will watching the Panthers deal with 6’7 290 lb sophomore beast DeForest Buckner and impressive rookie prospect Reuben Foster. At the end of the day though, Carolina dominates.
3. Atlanta Falcons – The Chicago Bears are not that bad of a defense. The reason I pick the Falcons to roll though is that the Bears are that bad of an offense. This is one of those games that I suspect to become a 2nd half blowout as the Chicago D is simply going to be on the field too much. Also like the Panthers game above the Falcons are looking to make a statement to the rest of the league about how they’re going to handle that soul crushing Super Bowl loss.
Offensive Lines That Should Struggle
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – First off Houston a top five D last season with out J.J Watt. Second off, J.J WATT. Third, everything in the world to play for. All that has to be considered before we get to a woeful Jags offense that looked confused and ineffective last year and this pre-season. I suspect Blake Bortles needs counseling after this one folks.
2. Indianapolis Colts – I’d be happy if I was wrong about this one but the Rams defense is ferocious and I still can’t tell if the Colts line doesn’t have a lot of talent or simply hasn’t had enough snaps together. Now factor in the backup QB starting for Indy, a thin receiving corps and likely about three seconds to throw the football. Frank Gore will be keyed on early by the Rams and if they can take him away it will be a long afternoon for the Colts.
3. Los Angeles Chargers – It’s a testament to how important an offensive line is that Phillip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, and a young dynamic pass catching corps didn’t get the Chargers more than five wins last season. Before you say, “But the defense”, the Los Angles D is actually one of the more exciting, talented, and solid young squads in the league. The reason the Chargers struggled last year was they ended up in scrambling shootout after scrambling shootout. Low time of possession and a high number of turnovers doomed their season. And…they have almost the exact same line as last year. Same ingredients, same sandwich.
Two other fascinating match ups are Detroit vs Arizona and Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland. Everybody’s looking for big improvements from the Browns and Lions. What better way to see if it’s steel or smoke than starting your season against two top flight D’s?