O-Lines That Should Dominate
Carolina Panthers (vs Tampa Bay) – Carolina’s offense is currently averaging fewer yards per game than the Colts. Let that sink in… Fortunately for them here comes the Bucs! Tampa’s terrible D gives up massive yardage through the air and on the ground. The brothers Kalil and the rest of the Panthers’ line to this point have been rancid in run blocking and putrid in pass blocking. This is a moment for them to regain their form and I believe they will. Cam Newton’s obvious accuracy issues notwithstanding there is no way Kelvin Benjamin, Christian McCaffrey and perhaps Devin Funchess don’t post better numbers.
Atlanta Falcons (vs New York Jets) – The fantasy football story of the year has been, “Why is____________ offense struggling so mightily? Averaging over ten points less than last season Atlanta fits the script. The popular answer has been that new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is no Kyle Shanahan. However as far as the offensive line goes things are just fine. Atlanta is surrendering just a hair over a sack a game and the run game is averaging 5.2 yards per carry which is fourth best in the league. There’s too much talent for the Falcons to fly this low for the whole season I predict the upward climb begins Sunday.
Chicago Bears (vs New Orleans) – It is an immense credit to the Bears O-line, Jordan Howard, and Tarik Cohen that a team who runs the ball 65% of the time is in the top ten in rushing yards per game. Everyone in the building knows what’s coming but they can’t stop it. Sunday’s opponent the Saints has a curious run D. They have a terrible average per run, one of the worst in the league but are in the top fifteen in lowest run yards surrendered per game. Why? Their offense scores a ton of points in the second half forcing teams to pass to play catch up. They’re writing the game script. These two strengths clashing head to head makes it one of the more interesting games on Sunday. I predict the Bears keep it close enough to keep their run game in it and Howard breaks a couple of big runs late to win it for Chicago.
O-Lines That Should Struggle
Cleveland Browns (vs Minnesota Vikings) – This pick is really just an excuse to talk about the Browns inability to sustain drives. After reviewing the film from week seven’s loss to the Titans I can say that the Browns offensive linemen lose far too many one-on-one matchups in run blocking. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson are legitimate weapons but they are rarely afforded holes and lanes to run through and Cleveland’s lineman rarely get to the second level with any authority. Couple that with DeShone Kizer‘s horrific accuracy and the Browns can’t score. They’re constantly behind which removes the run game and opposing defenses can feast. Expect the Vikes to gorge.
Houston Texans (vs Seattle Seahawks) – The Seattle defense is trending upward in both pass defense and run defense. Now comes the #1 scoring offense in the NFL. This is a serious test but one I expect Seattle to pass. The Seahawks are averaging almost three turnovers per game but they’re doing it almost exclusively from their rabid secondary. The book on playing the Seahawks earlier this season was pass heavy but that’s becoming less and less successful. The Texans are a balanced offensive attack relying on both run and pass almost equally. But as is always the case if any defense can take away either run or pass they’ll dramatically improve their odds of winning. I believe Seattle’s rapidly improving run D beats the Texans very good run game forcing Houston to the air to move the ball. Playing right into the hands of Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, and Earl Thomas.
Washington Redskins (vs Dallas Cowboys) – The Skins D is trending in the wrong direction and the Cowboy’s O is catching fire. A few weeks ago Washington was a mid-pack unit but injuries and a high few high powered opponents have knocked them down. Expect the Redskins to have no answer for Ezekiel Elliot and also look for Dak Prescott to enjoy lots of time off play action to Dez Bryant and maybe Brice Butler.