Week 16 Rushing Matchups

by Mark Wimer and Joe Bryant, Exclusive to Footballguys.com

Jump to Passing Matchups

Great Matchups: [ATL] [CAR] [DAL] [DEN] [IND] [NE] [NYG] [WAS]
Good Matchups: [BAL] [CHI] [DET] [GB] [HOU] [KC] [MIA] [MIN] [NO] [SD] [STL] [TB] [TEN]
Neutral Matchups: [ARI] [JAX] [NYJ] [OAK]
Tough Matchups: [BUF] [CIN] [CLE] [PHI] [SEA] [SF]
Bad Matchups: [PIT]


PLEASE NOTE: This does NOT replace the Cheatsheet ranking. The Cheatsheet rankings are the final say on where we see a player for that week. The Matchup Breakdowns are simply one more tool in the box when it comes to helping choose your lineup.

Also note, just because a player has a "bad" matchup, it does NOT mean he's not a starter in your league. If Aaron Rodgers is playing the toughest pass defense in the league, that just means he's got a tough matchup that week. He's also your starter unless you're loaded at QB. In the same way, if the worst QB on your roster has a "great" matchup that week, it doesn't necessarily mean he's your starter. It means we think he'll fare better than normal that week.

Bottom line is that the cheatsheets are the final say.


Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense at Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

These two teams are going in opposite directions - the Falcons just got the bad taste of their playoff loss to the Giants last year out of the mouths with a resounding 34-0 shutout victory over New York, while the Lions just lost to a horrid Arizona team 10-38.

Michael Turner posted 16/52/1 rushing and 1/9/0 receiving during the game last week - he has scored a rushing TD in each of his last three games, while Jacquizz Rodgers has posted 23/89/0 rushing and 9/53/0 receiving (Turner has put up 35/149/3 rushing and 2/16/0 receiving during that span). Jason Snelling has also chipped in during the last three games, with 6/39/0 rushing and 8/47/0 receiving.

Detroit's defense averages 119.4 rushing yards allowed per game (18th in the NFL) with 12 rushing scores given away to date. They coughed up three rushing TDs to the Cardinals last week (29/99/3 rushing allowed all told), and Green Bay's injury-riddled stable had 25/140/2 rushing vs. Detroit two weeks ago. The Detroit rush D is collapsing during the final weeks of the season.

This is a great matchup for Turner and Rodgers.

Weather: Inside Ford Field weather won't be an issue for either team on Saturday night.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense vs Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

DeAngelo Williams has scored two times in the past two weeks, both times off of a screen pass - a tipped screen pass from Cam Newton ended up in Williams' hands last Sunday, and he went 45 yards for the score - 'I had enough time to get under it and I was able to pluck it out of the air,' Williams said after the game. 'There were some nice downfield blocks and all I had to do was run.' Williams also rushed for a season-high 22/93/0 (with 2/51/1 receiving) against the Chargers last week. Cam Newton did most of his damage through the air, with just 4/7/0 rushing in that game. Mike Tolbert rushed for 9/40/2 at San Diego, and also saw 2/24/0 receiving during the game. Right now, the Panthers' offense is firing on all cylinders, with two straight wins powering them into the final two weeks of the season.

Oakland's rush D ranks 21st in the NFL averaging 122.5 yards rushing allowed per game, with 17 rushing TDs surrendered to date (tied for third-most in the NFL through 14 games played). The Chiefs inexplicably only attempted 10 rushes at Oakland last week (10/10/0), while two weeks ago Denver put up 39/140/1 rushing at Oakland. Usually, teams enjoy good success running the football against the Raiders.

This looks like a great matchup for Williams, Newton and Tolbert.

Weather: Bank of America Stadium expects a high of 56 F on Sunday, with a 0% chance for rain and winds under 10 mph. It should be a great day to play some pro football up in Carolina.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

DeMarco Murray has breathed new life into the Cowboys' rushing attack and play-action passing plays since returning to the lineup - last week, he ran for 14/81/1 vs. a hard-nosed Pittsburgh defensive front and also had 4/31/0 receiving to his credit. Felix Jones managed 3/10/0 rushing in contrast to Murray - with Murray in the lineup, the Cowboys' entire offense is more potent.

The Saint's rush D is terrible this year, ranking 31st in the NFL averaging 146.3 yards allowed per game, with 13 rushing TDs given up over 14 games played. They did limit Doug Martin and the Buccaneers to 16/67/0 last week, though, after coughing up 27/135/2 to the Giants two weeks back. This team is not good at defending opposing backs most of the time.

Murray is gathering steam during the stretch run into the playoffs, while the sub-par Saints have been inconsistent of late - advantage, Dallas.

Weather: Cowboys' Stadium expects a high of 67 F on Sunday, with a 20% chance of rain - winds are expected to be mild (under 10 mph) - it should be a nice day to watch and play pro football down in Texas.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Denver Broncos Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Knowshon Moreno is shining since getting his second chance to be the Bronco's featured back - vs. Baltimore he gained 22/118/1 rushing and 2/8/0 receiving, after putting up 32/119/1 rushing and 4/48/0 receiving at Oakland two weeks ago. Moreno is steadily productive these days (Peyton Manning helps make his running backs look really good, doesn't he?) - start Moreno if you've got him.

The Browns' rush D is currently 19th in the NFL averaging 120.6 rushing yards allowed per game, with 13 rushing scores surrendered over 14 games played. Washington posted 35/122/3 on the ground at Cleveland last week - K.C. posted 26/180/1 rushing two weeks ago. Without T.J. Ward (their excellent run-stuffing strong safety who landed on IR this week due to a bone bruise in his knee), the Browns' rush D has suddenly collapsed.

Moreno has a great matchup to work with this week.

Weather: Mile High Stadium expects a high of 45 F on Sunday, with a 0% chance of rain and low winds (7 mph) - that's as good as it gets on the High Plains in December. Weather conditions shouldn't impact either team in this matchup.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Vick Ballard did a fine job against the top-ten Texans' rush D last week, with 18/105/0 on the ground to his credit. He's the featured back for this offense with Donald Brown (ankle-IR) and Delone Carter (ankle-didn't practice on Wednesday) both ailing. Start Ballard if you've got him.

The Chiefs' rush D is ranked 27th in the NFL this year, averaging 136.4 yards allowed per game, with nine rushing scores given up to date. Darren McFadden and the Raiders rang up 45/205/0 on the ground vs. the Chiefs last week - Cleveland put up 35/154/2 against the Chiefs two weeks ago.

This is a great matchup for Ballard.

Weather: Arrowhead Stadium expects a high of 38 F on Sunday, but there is only a 10% chance for precipitation and winds are expected to be under 10 mph. That's as good as it gets in Kansas City at this time of year - weather conditions shouldn't play a major role in the outcome of this game.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New England Patriots Rushing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Patriots' young backs Shane Vereen (1/4/0 receiving) and Stevan Ridley (9/23/0 rushing and two targets for zero receptions) both ended up on the bench due to fumbles lost during week 15. Danny Woodhead led the rushing attack vs. the hard-nosed 49ers and enjoyed good results (12/61/2 rushing with 5/23/0 receiving). If Ridley fumbles again in this game, Woodhead would likely get plugged in again, but right now we think Ridley will be the main back for the Patriots as he has been for most of the season.

The Jaguars' rush D is dead last in the NFL averaging 148.1 net yards allowed per game, with a second-worst total of 18 rushing TDs surrendered to date. Miami posted 36/180/0 on the ground vs. this team most recently.

Advantage, New England.

Weather: Jacksonville expects a high of 63 F on Sunday, with a 10% chance of rain and winds under 10 mph - it should be a fine day to play some pro football.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New York Giants Rushing Offense at Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

What a difference a week makes. David Wilson underwhelmed fantasy owners during week 15, with a mere 12/55/0 rushing and 1/11/0 receiving at Atlanta - he still showed explosive speed with a long rush of 25 yards on the day, but he didn't find the end-zone in the Georgia Dome. The early word this week is that Ahmad Bradshaw (knee, foot) is healing fast and may be able to play in this contest - however, monitor his practice participation later in the week as he's pretty banged up by now and his participation isn't a lock as of midweek.

The Ravens' defensive front is hampered by injuries (MLB Ray Lewis remains out, his replacement Jameel McClain went to IR this week, and OLB Terrell Suggs is a part-time player at best as he tries to battle through a torn biceps), and it shows in the performance - last week, Denver ran for 45/163/2 at Baltimore, while two weeks ago Washington posted 35/179/1 rushing. It's pretty ugly in this phase of the game for the Ravens.

Wilson (and possibly Bradshaw) enjoy a great matchup against the struggling Ravens' defensive front.

Weather: M and T Bank Stadium expects a high of 44 F on Sunday, with a 0% chance of rain forecast - it should be a crisp day to play and watch some pro football. Weather conditions shouldn't be a big factor in this matchup.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Alfred Morris ground out 20/76/0 rushing and 1/7/0 receiving during the Redskins 31-6 pasting of the Eagles on November 18. Since then, Morris has been steadily productive with 96/446/4 rushing and 2/6/0 receiving over the past four weeks, and 27/87/2 rushing with 2/6/0 receiving last week vs. Cleveland. Evan Royster (2/3/1 rushing and 2/30/0 receiving) and fullback Darrell Young (3/10/0 rushing and 1/8/0 receiving) were also in the mix last week. The Redskins' five game winning streak is due in part to Morris' powerful presence.

The Eagles' rush D averages 122 yards allowed per game (20th in the NFL), with nine rushing scores given up so far. They were pounded for 47/151/2 rushing by the Bengals last week, though, and handed over 32/136/1 rushing to the Buccaneers two weeks ago. This defensive unit continues to decline in effectiveness as the weeks go by.

Advantage, Washington.

Weather: Lincoln Financial Field expects a high of 42 F on Sunday, with a 20% chance of rain and winds between 10 and 20 mph - owners of Eagles and Redskins will want to check a shorter-term forecast before setting lineups for Championship weekend.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense vs New York Giants Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Ray Rice had his worst game in recent memory vs. Denver last week (12/38/0 rushing and 3/3/0 receiving) - the shuffling at offensive coordinator hasn't helped matters in Baltimore, as you can see. Over the last three games, Rice has recorded 44/237/2 rushing and 7/23/0 receiving - it's not time to panic over his slump last week, but there are trouble signs on the horizon.

The Giants got stomped by the Falcons 0-34 last week - Atlanta had 38/129/1 rushing during the victory. Two weeks ago, the Saints managed 24/142/1 rushing at New York - they haven't played stout football in this phase of the game recently. Over the season, the Giants rank 22nd in the NFL averaging 123.7 yars allowed per game, with eight rushing scores given away to date.

Rice comes into this game cold, while the Giants' defense is knocked back on their heels - on balance, we give a slight edge to Rice and the Ravens - he's an elite back who suffered a bad game last week.

Weather: M and T Bank Stadium expects a high of 44 F on Sunday, with a 0% chance of rain forecast - it should be a crisp day to play and watch some pro football. Weather conditions shouldn't be a big factor in this matchup.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Chicago Bears Rushing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

'On the goal line, the offensive line has got to get movement,' Matt Forte said after the 13-21 loss to Green Bay last week. 'I look for a hole and try to hit it. There are going to be unblocked players. My deal is, I have to slam it up in there. That's what I was doing. You have to give [the Packers] credit. They played tough defense on the goal line.' Forte (20/69/0 rushing with 5/64/0 receiving last week) was held out of the end-zone on three attempts to score vs. the Packers - illustrating why Marion Barber III (2011) and Michael Bush (2012) have been the highest-rushing-TD-scoring backs over the last two seasons. Bush was sent to IR on December 18, though, due to his rib injury, so it'll be up to either Kahlil Bell or Armando Allen to find the end-zone in goal-line situations this week - Forte has proven again and again that goal-line work isn't his forte.

The Cardinals shocked everyone and beat the Lions last week 38-10, limiting the Lions to 22/84/1 rushing during the contest. Two weeks ago, the picture was completely different as Seattle ran up 42/284/4 rushing on Arizona during their 58-0 deconstruction of the Cardinals. To date, this unit ranks 28th in the NFL averaging 136.5 rushing yards allowed per game, with 10 rushing TDs allowed so far (half of that total over the last two games).

The Bears move the ball well between the 20's in this phase of the game, while the Cardinals are generous in that region of the field. Advantage, Chicago.

Weather: University of Phoenix Stadium expects a high of 66 F on Sunday, with a 0% chance of rain and near-still winds. In such perfect conditions, the retractable roof should be open - weather conditions won't impact either team in this contest is if the forecast holds up.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Detroit Lions Rushing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Mikel LeShoure isn't busting off big runs this year, but he consistently gets a steady diet of carries, and he's finding ways to score - over the past three weeks, LeShoure has 49/161/2 rushing, with 4/20/0 receiving, while Joique Bell has posted 26/155/0 rushing and 10/81/0 receiving during those three games. Last week, LeShoure ran for 14/55/1 while Bell handled 7/24/0 rushing and 2/13/0 receiving (Leshoure also had 2/4/0 receiving). This is an effective 1-2 punch at the running back position entering the final weeks of the 2012 season.

The Falcons' rush D held the Giants to 21/97/0 rushing last week, while handing over a whopping 32/195/1 to the Panthers two weeks ago - they've been up and down in this phase of the game from week to week this year. On average, the Falcons allow 124.9 rushing yards per game (24th in the NFL), with 14 rushing scores surrendered over 14 games played. Not too impressive, are they?

This looks like a good matchup for LeShoure and Bell.

Weather: Inside Ford Field weather won't be an issue for either team on Saturday night.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Collectively, the Packers' running backs were able to post a decent outing at Solider Field (32/113/0), but for fantasy owners the fractured workload renders the entire stable untenable as fantasy starters. Alex Green had 13/35/0 rushing and 2/6/0 receiving; Ryan Grant managed 8/32/0 rushing; Dujuan Harris posted 5/27/0, and John Kuhn handled 2/5/0 rushing. This is a running-back-by-committee from the nether regions, friends. James Starks didn't practice last week due to his injured knee, and he seems like an extreme long-shot to return to action anytime soon as of Thursday.

The Titans' rush D is currently 28th in the NFL averaging 128.4 rushing yards allowed per game, with 12 rushing TDs given up to date. Last week, the Jets managed 30/146/0 rushing at Tennessee. This is a poor rush D, friends.

Unfortunately for fantasy owners, though this is a good matchup for the stable collectively, the Packers' backs are sharing out the work to such an extent that we can't recommend any of them for a Championship week start.

Weather: Lambeau Field expects a high of 19 F on Sunday, with a 10% chance of rain and winds under 10 mph. In such cold conditions, the turf and the football will be hard and slick - all phases of the game will be more difficult to execute in the glacial cold.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Houston Texans Rushing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

'You want an offense that can win in the air and on the ground,' said Foster, 'I think that's what [head coach Gary] Kubiak envisioned when he put this team together. When you're firing on all cylinders like that, (you're) tough to beat.' Indeed, the 12-2 Texans have been tough to beat this year - Foster contributed 27/165/0 rushing and 2/4/0 receiving in the 29-17 win over Indianapolis last week, while Ben Tate chipped in 5/13/0 to the effort. All told, the Texans rocked the Colts with 32/178/0 rushing last week. Start Foster and smile, fantasy owners.

The Vikings' rush D is 13th in the NFL averaging 113.3 yards allowed per game, with 10 rushing scores given up to date. The Rams had 18/87/0 rushing last week, while Chicago posted 18/118/0 on the ground at Minnesota two weeks ago. This is a respectable but not outstanding defensive front as of week 16.

Advantage, Houston.

Weather: Houston expects a high of 71 F on Sunday, but overcast conditions and a 20% chance of rain means that the retractable roof may be closed for this contest - either way, weather conditions shouldn't impact this matchup much at all.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Brady Quinn is nursing sore ribs, and he may take a seat in favor of Ricky Stanzi during the closing weeks of the season - 'There's a possibility...we'll see what (QB Brady Quinn) looks like and then we'll make some decisions and go from there,' head coach Romeo Crennel said Monday, December 17. It is unlikely that any fantasy owners were considering Quinn for the championship-week lineup, anyways, but the word at midweek is that he'll start despite his sore ribs. Jamaal Charles may have a very congested line of scrimmage to deal with as Quinn doesn't scare anybody even when fully healthy. Last week was a disastrous week for Charles owners as the Chiefs inexplicably only attempted 10 rushes (9/10/0 rushing and 3/18/0 receiving for Charles during the 0-15 blanking by the Raiders).

The Colts' rush D is not good this year, averaging 124.7 yards allowed per game, with 12 rushing scores given away to date. Houston just rolled over them for 32/178/0 last week, while Tennessee managed 24/97/0 rushing at Indianapolis two weeks ago.

This looks like a favorable matchup for Charles, assuming he gets the ball more than 12 times this week.

Weather: Arrowhead Stadium expects a high of 38 F on Sunday, but there is only a 10% chance for precipitation and winds are expected to be under 10 mph. That's as good as it gets in Kansas City at this time of year - weather conditions shouldn't play a major role in the outcome of this game.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Daniel Thomas (12/33/0 rushing) and Reggie Bush (10/20/0 rushing and 2/15/0 receiving) both struggled to move the ball on the Bills in Ralph Wilson Stadium back on November 15.

Since then, Bush has usually hovered somewhere between 60 and 80 yards combined in any given game, but last week he did post a 21/104/0 rushing effort vs. the sad-sack Jaguars. Daniel Thomas lands on IR this week due to a knee injury suffered last week, meaning the split workload with Bush is over. However, Bush isn't expected back with the Dolphins next year, so backup Lamar Miller may get an extended audition during weeks 16 and 17 - the bottom line here is that the Dolphins don't usually give Bush enough work for him to get over 100 yards combined from week to week.

The Bills' rush D is pathetic - ranking 30th in the NFL with an average of 144.1 yards allowed per game, and a league-worst 22 rushing scores allowed to date. Seattle dismantled this unit for 32/270/4 rushing just last week.

The Dolphins struggled to run the ball on the Bills earlier this year, but they still have a good chance to do well in this phase against the circling-the-bowl Bills' defense.

Weather: Sun Life Stadium expects a high of 77 F on Sunday, with the chance of rain at 10% and winds under 10 mph. It should be a near-perfect day to play some pro football down in South Florida on Sunday.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense at Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Adrian Peterson. 289/1812/11 rushing with 38/211/0 receiving so far this year. On pace to set an all-time single-season rushing mark. After a knee reconstruction and subsequent rehab that began around New Year's Day, 2012. WOW. Start him.

The Texans' rush D is among the league's best, averaging 93.2 yards allowed per game, with just three rushing scores allowed this entire year. However, Indianapolis posted 24/125/0 rushing at Houston last week, and New England had 33/130/1 rushing vs. Houston two weeks ago. This defensive front has slipped a couple of notches during December.

Advantage, Minnesota.

Weather: Houston expects a high of 71 F on Sunday, but overcast conditions and a 20% chance of rain means that the retractable roof may be closed for this contest - either way, weather conditions shouldn't impact this matchup much at all.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Mark Ingram had his best game of the season vs. Tampa Bay, rushing for 14/90/1 during the contest - his previous high for the season came the week before vs. New York, with 13/68/0 on the ground. Is Ingram finally emerging as the lead runner for the Saints? It looks like he may be (Darren Sproles posted 5/22/0 rushing and 5/21/1 receiving last week, while Pierre Thomas had 4/13/0 rushing and 3/26/0 receiving) - Ingram has led the stable of backs in carries for two games now, though Sproles and Thomas have also made valuable contributions to the team rushing totals (149 yards rushing and one TD last week, 142 yards and one TD rushing two weeks ago). The Saints' offense is powerful enough to occasionally keep pace with the points surrendered by their horrendous defense.

The Cowboys' defensive front is right in the middle of the NFL range, averaging 115.2 rushing yards allowed per game (15th), with 12 rushing TDs surrendered to date. Pittsburgh's stable was held to 17/69/1 on the ground last week, while Cincinnati racked up 20/146/0 rushing two weeks ago. As you'd expect from a mediocre unit, the Cowboys are inconsistent, with some strong games mixed in equal parts with less impressive performances in this phase of the game.

The Saints' backs have got it going entering week 16 - advantage, New Orleans.

Weather: Cowboys' Stadium expects a high of 67 F on Sunday, with a 20% chance of rain - winds are expected to be mild (under 10 mph) - it should be a nice day to watch and play pro football down in Texas.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


San Diego Chargers Rushing Offense at New York Jets Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Ryan Mathews disappointing season ended last week due to another broken clavicle - this time his left clavicle is broken, sending him to IR (he broke the right side during preseason and didn't play much early on during the year as a result). Next up - we'll see a repeat of the committee of backs that played while Mathews was out early this year. Some mix of Jackie Battle, Curtis Brinkley and Ronnie Brown is to be expected - but with such an extensive committee approach a likely scenario we don't recommend any of the dispirited Chargers' backs. Brinkley had 6/42/0 rushing vs. Carolina, while Battle put up 3/2/0 rushing and 2/12/0 receiving. Brown practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday (a sore hamstring has hampered him for weeks).

The Jets' rush D held Chris Johnson to 1.4 yards per carry on 20 out of his 21 carries last week, but allowed a 94-yard TD on the other one. Jacksonville had 24/123/1 rushing vs. the Jets two weeks ago - this unit averages 138.7 yards rushing allowed per game (29th in the NFL), with 15 rushing scores given up to date. Not too good, folks.

This is a good matchup for the San Diego stable of backs, but the work sharing arrangement is up in the air at midweek, making any of the remaining guys a very risky proposition for week 16.

Weather: MetLife Stadium expects a high of 37 F on Sunday, with a 10% chance of rain - but winds will approach 20 mph this weekend. Owners of Jets and Chargers will want to check a shorter-term forecast as the wind conditions in this venue can be extreme at this time of year.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


St. Louis Rams Rushing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Tampa Bay followed up a heartbreaking loss to Philadelphia two weeks ago (21-23) by getting blown out by the Saints last week 0-41. They coughed up 25/149/1 rushing to the Saints last week - the Buccaneers' defense is knocked back on their heels coming into this tilt.

The Rams rushed for 18/87/0 vs. the Vikings last week, led as usual by Steven Jackson's 13/73/0 rushing (he added 8/73/0 receiving). Daryl Richardson had a bit role (3/5/0 rushing with 3/25/0 recieving) last week - heading into week 16, Jackson is the clear-cut lead back in St. Louis again.

This looks like a good matchup for Jackson.

Weather: Tampa expects a high of 68 F on Sunday, with a 10% chance of rain - it should be a near-perfect day to play some pro football in Tampa.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense vs St. Louis Rams Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Doug Martin had an epic fail vs. New Orleans, with 9/16/0 rushing and 3/19/0 receiving during the 0-41 debacle. Even though LeGarrette Blount ended up leading the team in rushing (4/25/0), the team has no plans to sideline Martin and rest him up now that the playoffs are out of reach - 'I think it would be not a good time in our program's development to say, 'Hey, Doug, why don't you go cool off here,'' coach Greg Schiano said on Wednesday. We'll see how well Martin can bounce back on Sunday.

The Rams' rush D was blasted for 33/213/2 rushing by the Vikings last week, and gave up 20/61/0 rushing two weeks ago - they are ping-ponging around during December. To date, the Rams average a mediocre (17th-ranked) 117.6 rushing yards allowed per game, with a hefty 17 rushing scores given away.

This is a good matchup for Martin.

Weather: Tampa expects a high of 68 F on Sunday, with a 10% chance of rain - it should be a near-perfect day to play some pro football in Tampa.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense at Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Chris Johnson blasted the Jets with a 94-yard TD run in the second quarter last week, but otherwise he averaged 1.4 yards per carry during the game (21/122/1 rushing, with no receptions last week). Johnson can hit home runs for fantasy owners despite his shattered offensive line, but he's got to bust off long runs to make a fantasy impact - the line is just not giving him room to roam on a consistent basis. He's a boom-or-bust prospect for fantasy owners during Championship Week.

The Packers' rush D averages 114.3 yards allowed per game, (14th in the NFL) with 11 rushing scores surrendered to date. Last week, the Bears were frustrated in three goal-line situations, and eventually posted 23/83/0 rushing vs. Green Bay; two weeks ago, Detroit ground out 32/135/1 at Lambeau Field.

Johnson has the ability to explode for a long score at any time - against the mediocre Packers, we rate this a good matchup (but realize that he'll have just a few opportunities to bust a big run due to his inept offensive line).

Weather: Lambeau Field expects a high of 19 F on Sunday, with a 10% chance of rain and winds under 10 mph. In such cold conditions, the turf and the football will be hard and slick - all phases of the game will be more difficult to execute in the glacial cold.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense vs Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Cardinals won a game last week! Chris Wells scored three TDs in one game! No, you aren't hallucinating.

Seriously, the Cardinals bounced back from their debacle at Seattle (0-58 in case you've forgotten) and notched a 'W' over the Lions last week 38-10. Chris Wells was the offense last week, with 17/67/3 rushing (Ryan Lindley had 104 yards passing, zero TDs and one interception thrown). All told, the Cardinals racked up 29/99/3 rushing as a team (LaRod Stephens-Howling was second on the club with 5/20/0 rushing and 1/3/0 receiving).

The Bears have lost three straight (and five of their last six) - last week, Green Bay's injury-ravaged stable managed 32/113/0 rushing at Soldier Field, while two weeks ago Adrian Peterson and company blasted the Bears for 38/171/2 on the ground. This defense is in a free fall as of late December, folks.

The Cardinals' rushing attack is sub-par, but right now the Bears' defense is playing pretty mediocre football, too. This looks like an ugly but fairly even matchup to us.

Weather: University of Phoenix Stadium expects a high of 66 F on Sunday, with a 0% chance of rain and near-still winds. In such perfect conditions, the retractable roof should be open - weather conditions won't impact either team in this contest is if the forecast holds up.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense vs New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Montell Owens was able to put up 11/47/0 rushing and 1/6/0 receiving vs. the Dolphins last week (Jacksonville had 21/86/0 rushing as a team at Miami). Richard Murphy helped out with 6/20/0 rushing during the contest. This week, we may see Rashad Jennings back in the mix - Maurice Jones-Drew didn't practice on Thursday and as the season is a lost cause we think he'll likely stay off the field in 2012 while his foot continues to heal. There isn't a lot of reasons to be excited about the Jaguars' offense after their 3-24 loss in Miami last week.

The Patriots were trampled for 39/180/0 by the 49ers last week, and they gave up 27/100/2 to the Texans two weeks ago - this isn't a shut-down rush D, as you can see. To date, the team averages 106.4 rushing yards allowed per game (11th in the NFL), with 10 rushing scores handed over so far. They've faded during December in this phase of the game.

The Jacksonville rushing attack is sorry enough that this looks like a neutral matchup to us despite the Patriots recent woes.

Weather: Jacksonville expects a high of 63 F on Sunday, with a 10% chance of rain and winds under 10 mph - it should be a fine day to play some pro football.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New York Jets Rushing Offense vs San Diego Chargers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Well, with the passing attack in smoking ruins, the Jets will start Greg McElroy this week. He'll practice his hand-offs extensively in this game, so Bilal Powell (6/28/0 rushing and 2/15/0 receiving at Tennessee on Monday night) and Shonn Greene (13/68/0 rushing and 2/1/0 receiving) will see lots of work on Sunday, as will Joe McKnight (4/29/0 rushing last week). However, the Chargers know that McElroy will hand off a lot, so look for a stacked box of defenders on most play.

Speaking of the Chargers, they laid down to Carolina last week allowing 39/155/2 rushing. After they defeated the Steelers two weeks ago (allowing just 17/69/0) it looked like San Diego was still caring about 2012, but last week's 7-31 debacle made them look like losers.

Two teams out of the playoffs and on the NFL's skid row meet in this game - it looks ugly but even to us. The Jets will run the ball a lot, but the Chargers will be ready for this. This game likely comes down to 'who wants it more'?, and neither team looks very inspired to us.

Weather: MetLife Stadium expects a high of 37 F on Sunday, with a 10% chance of rain - but winds will approach 20 mph this weekend. Owners of Jets and Chargers will want to check a shorter-term forecast as the wind conditions in this venue can be extreme at this time of year.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense at Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Darren McFadden finally put up a decent game last week - 30/110/0 rushing and 4/39/0 receiving. Nobody on the team scored a TD, though, as Sebastian Janikowski was asked to kick five field goals to win the game 15-0 over a punchless K.C. team. We'll see if McFadden can stay healthy enough during practices this week to have another go in week 16. He may have a rookie QB, Terrelle Pryor, on the field at least part of the time in this one so the Panthers may be stacking the box and daring Pryor to pass the football - McFadden could be in a disadvantageous situation during week 16 for some series, but the Raiders are being coy about how much playing time Pryor will get for this cross-conference game. After last week's game, Pryor explained 'We had it set at just one series,' Pryor said. 'It's just a steppingstone. I enjoyed the four plays, or whatever it was, but I was excited to get in there at least.'

The Panthers' rush defense averages 117.9 yards allowed per game (17th in the NFL), with 11 rushig scores given away to date. San Diego was limited to 16/70/0 by the Panthers last week; Atlanta had 11/35/1 rushing two weeks ago. Lately, this unit is playing much harder-nosed football than they were earlier in the season.

This looks like a fairly even matchup - we don't give either side a huge edge over the other.

Weather: Bank of America Stadium expects a high of 56 F on Sunday, with a 0% chance for rain and winds under 10 mph. It should be a great day to play some pro football up in Carolina.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense at Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Back on Thursday, November 15 the Bills beat the Dolphins 19-14: then, as now, C.J. Spiller was the lead back with Fred Jackson sidelined, and Spiller responded with 22/91/0 rushing and four targets for 3/39/0 receiving. Look for Spiller to be central to the game plan in week 16.

Last week vs. Seattle (a 17-50 loss), Spiller had a 17/103/1 rushing performance (with three receptions for -2 yards) - Spiller surpassed the 1,000-yard mark this year in just 154 carries, the second-fewest number needed to reach the milestone in NFL history, trailing only the 119 Chicago Bears running back Beattie Feathers needed to become the NFL's first 1,000-yard rusher way back in 1934. 'You get beat like that, there's nothing you can take away from this game that you can walk away and say you're proud of,' he said. 'Yeah, it's good to rush for a thousand, but when you get your brains beat in like that, there's nothing to be happy about.'

Miami's rush D ranks eighth in the NFL this year, averaging 100.9 yards allowed per game, with eight rushing score given up over 14 contests. Jacksonville was held to 21/86/0 rushing last week; however, the 49ers posted 28/155/3 rushing on this squad two weeks ago. The Dolphins got back on track vs. Jacksonville last week.

Spiller is having an outstanding season, but he draws a tough matchup this week.

Weather: Sun Life Stadium expects a high of 77 F on Sunday, with the chance of rain at 10% and winds under 10 mph. It should be a near-perfect day to play some pro football down in South Florida on Sunday.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

BenJarvus Green-Ellis manged 18/69/0 rushing vs. Pittsburgh back on October 21, 2012, while the Bengals posted 21/80/1 rushing as a team (Cedric Peerman scored in that 17-24 loss, with 1/5/1 rushing to his credit).

Since mid-season, Green-Ellis has come on during December, with 62/314/1 rushing and 7/27/0 receiving over the past three games played. He gained 25/106/1 rushing at Lincoln Financial Field during the 34-13 victory last Thursday night. Green Ellis is a fantasy force to be reckoned with as of week 16, friends.

Meanwhile, the Steelers' rush D has remained tough on opposing backs, with 21/87/1 given up to Dallas last week and 36/94/0 handed over to the Chargers two weeks ago. To date, the Steelers are ranked fourth in the NFL averaging 92.7 rushing yards allowed per game, with nine rushing TDs given away so far. They've been right near their season average during December, as you can see.

Green-Ellis and company have a tough, divisional rematch ahead of them on Sunday.

Weather: Heinz Field expects a high of 33 F on Sunday, with a 20% chance for precipitation and winds in excess of 10 mph. In this venue, swirling winds are an issue for the passing and kicking games, and if the precipitation comes down thickly at game time, all phases of the game will be harder to execute than usual - owners of Steelers and Bengals will want to check a shorter-term forecast before setting their lineups this week.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Trent Richardson ran for two touchdowns last Sunday (11/28/2 rushing with 3/4/0 receiving), bringing his total to 11 for the season, which has broken Jim Brown's Cleveland franchise record for rushing touchdowns by a rookie. In 1957, Brown put up 10 rushing touchdowns (but only had 12 games to do so). 'It means a lot, but we still lost at the end of the day,' Richardson said. 'In the long run, I'm going to sit back and think about it. But right now, I've got a 24-hour rule. I'm not down about this game, but I'm very upset about this game. So it really didn't mean as much without that W.' To date, Richardson has compiled 258/897/11 rushing and 48/352/1 receiving - he's a bona fide fantasy star entering the final two games of the year.

Denver's rush D has been stalwart during the final months of the season - last week, Ray Rice was held to 12/38/0 rushing (with 3/3/0 receiving) and the entire Baltimore team had just 19/56/0 rushing. Two weeks ago, Oakland managed 16/61/0 rushing vs. Denver - the Broncos are shutting opposing backs down these days.

This is a very tough matchup for Richardson and the Browns.

Weather: Mile High Stadium expects a high of 45 F on Sunday, with a 0% chance of rain and low winds (7 mph) - that's as good as it gets on the High Plains in December. Weather conditions shouldn't impact either team in this matchup.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense vs Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

LeSean McCoy led the Eagles in rushing (15/45/0) and receiving (seven targets for 6/67/0) at Washington on November 18, but ended up getting concussed and McCoy hasn't played since. Bryce Brown has put up 103/528/5 rushing and 12/50/0 receiving since McCoy was knocked out of the lineup, but Brown has fallen into a huge slump over the past two weeks, with 12/6/0 rushing and 2/6/0 receiving at Tampa Bay two weeks ago, and then 16/34/0 rushing and 1/11/0 receiving vs. Cincinnati last week. He's also fumbled four times so far since stepping into the lineup. The Eagles' rushing attack is not faring well during December.

Despite the fumbling issue, Eagles head coach Andy Reid said Monday December 17 that Brown will continue to see playing time even as McCoy returns for the final two games of the season. 'He needs to play. That's why I haven't sat him down because of the fumbles,' Reid said of Brown, 'I felt like he did miss a lot, he missed a lot of football. The thing he needs most is to be out there and playing and learning the game. He's wired the right way. This is a kid who doesn't want to make mistakes and drop the ball and that stuff. He's a responsible kid.' Reid also said on Wednesday that McCoy 'won't be (in for) a normal workload like you'd see during the season', further telegraphing a running-back-by-committee situation for the final two weeks of the season.

Washington finds themselves in first place in the NFC East with two games to go - they have averaged 95.9 rushing yards allowed per game this year (sixth-best in the NFL), with 10 rushing scores given away to date. Last week, Cleveland was held to 15/58 rushing, but Trent Richardson did push in two TDs. Two weeks ago Baltimore had 35/186/1 rushing as a team, though - Washington has been inconsistent in this phase of the game during December.

With a tender McCoy working his way back into game shape and an inexperienced Brown likely to see a lot of action, we think the Redskins have the edge in this game.

Weather: Lincoln Financial Field expects a high of 42 F on Sunday, with a 20% chance of rain and winds between 10 and 20 mph - owners of Eagles and Redskins will want to check a shorter-term forecast before setting lineups for Championship weekend.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense vs San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Seattle and San Francisco opened up week seven on Thursday night, October 18, and they close out week 16 on Sunday Night Football, December 23rd - you know this is an intense divisional rivalry when both games are featured on a lone nationally-televised night game in each instance during a single season.

Marshawn Lynch went over 100 yards rushing at San Francisco back on October 18, with 19/103/0 rushing and 1/13/0 receiving, but he couldn't find pay dirt and his team lost 6-13. In the last two weeks, he's found the end-zone plenty as the Seahawks have scored 108 points in the past two contests - Lynch had 10/113/1 rushing and 1/14/0 receiving at Buffalo last week and 11/128/3 rushing vs. Arizona two weeks ago. Lynch has averaged over 11 yards per carry for two straight games - he's nuclear hot right now, as is Russell Wilson (9/92/3 rushing last week) It's all good for the Seahawks' offense entering this key NFC West showdown.

The 49ers are a formidable rush D, averaging 91.1 rushing yards allowed per game, (sixth in the NFL), with just six rushing scores allowed to date. They dominated the Patriots for three quarters last week, but buckled in the fourth and ended up allowing 24/95/3 rushing, doubling their TDs allowed total in one game. Two weeks ago, Miami managed 22/94/0 rushing at San Francisco.

Lynch is playing super football right now, but the 49ers won't lay down for this key game - on balance, we call it a tough matchup for Lynch and company, but he's so hot right now you can't sit him down under any circumstances.

Weather: Century Link Field expects a low of 37 F on Sunday night, with a 20% chance of rain forecast. In this part of the world, rain squalls are common at this time of year - owners of Seahawks and 49ers will want to check a shorter-term forecast before setting their lineups this week.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Seattle and San Francisco opened up week seven on Thursday night, October 18, and they close out week 16 on Sunday Night Football, December 23rd - you know this is an intense divisional rivalry when both games are featured on a lone nationally-televised night game in each instance during a single season. Frank Gore led the team in rushing (16/131/0) and receiving (six targets for 5/51/0 receiving) during the contest. Kendall Hunter was second on the team in rushing (9/31/0) but has since landed on IR due to a torn Achilles' tendon - the 49ers racked up 32/175/0 rushing on the Seahawks all told the first time these teams clashed.

Gore had 21/83/0 rushing and 2/34/0 receiving at New England last week - it looks like the plan to limit his touches and keep him fresher for the playoffs has worked out for the 49ers. LaMichael James (8/31/0 rushing last week) and Colin Kaepernick (7/28/0) also pitched in vs. New England, and the 49ers ended up with 39/180/0 rushing on the day. It's all good for Gore entering week 16.

Seattle as outscored their last two opponents 108-17 - their defense is getting the job done as of week 16, as is their offense. Last week, Buffalo managed 21/118/1 rushing; two weeks ago Arizona had 16/43/0 on the ground. To date, Seattle ranks 10th in the NFL averaging 106.3 yards rushing allowed per game, with eight rushing scores given away to date. They are a solid defense, friends.

This is a tough matchup for Gore and company despite their big game against Seattle earlier this year.

Weather: Century Link Field expects a low of 37 F on Sunday night, with a 20% chance of rain forecast. In this part of the world, rain squalls are common at this time of year - owners of Seahawks and 49ers will want to check a shorter-term forecast before setting their lineups this week.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Jonathan Dwyer had one of his best games of the season at Cincinnati during week seven, gaining 17/122/0 rushing during the 24-17 win. Chris Rainey handled the rushing score for Pittsburgh with 4/17/1 rushing and 1/8/0 receiving - all told, the Steelers racked up 29/167/1 rushing during the game.

Lately, the Steelers have had an unimpressive rushing attack, with Jonathan Dwyer (34/108/2 rushing with 6/26/0 receiving over the past three games), Isaac Redman (14/73/0 rushing with 1/14/0 receiving) and Chris Rainey (4/21/0 rushing over the past three games) combining for mediocre results. Rashard Mendenhall is back with the squad after a one-week suspension for conduct detrimental to the team - he may get some chances this week as Dwyer averaged 2.4 yards per carry at Dallas last week (9/22/1) - Isaac Redman led the team with 3/30/0 rushing and had 1/14/0 receiving. This squad is a many-headed monster as of week 16, friends.

The Bengals' rush D held the Eagles to 19/42/0 on the ground last Thursday, and kept the Cowboys' stable under 50 yards two weeks ago as well (24/49/1). They're playing shut-down rush D right now.

Advantage, Cincinnati.

Weather: Heinz Field expects a high of 33 F on Sunday, with a 20% chance for precipitation and winds in excess of 10 mph. In this venue, swirling winds are an issue for the passing and kicking games, and if the precipitation comes down thickly at game time, all phases of the game will be harder to execute than usual - owners of Steelers and Bengals will want to check a shorter-term forecast before setting their lineups this week.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


© Footballguys - All Rights Reserved