FBG says: Neutral matchup. The Saints ground game struggled to get going in what was a pass-happy shootout last week against the 49ers. This struggle to get going on the ground is nothing new for the Saints backfield though, as Alvin Kamara has not scored since Week 3 and has seen 13 or fewer carries in five straight games since suffering the ankle injury in Week 6. That lower volume on the ground has led to Kamara failing to exceed 25 rushing yards in two of his last five games while not going over the 75 rushing yard mark in any of those outings. Part of the explanation for this lower volume from Kamara has been the increased usage of Latavius Murray, who looked spectacular in his two games filling in as the lead back while Kamara was injured. Murray's usage has been somewhat erratic since Kamara's return though, as he rushed for 64 and 69 yards in two games, but finished with 12, 27, and 2 rushing yards in the other three since their Week 9 bye. This rushing offense does sport one of the top offensive lines in football, and both Kamara and Murray have the talent to put up big numbers on the ground.
The Colts run defense got back on track last week as they shut down Tampa Bay's ground game by giving up just 70 rushing yards and no touchdowns to Buccaneers running backs. Last week marked the seventh time this defense has limited a team's lead running back to fewer than 60 rushing yards and the ninth time they have held all running backs out of the end zone, further solidifying how the 149-yard outburst from Derrick Henry in Week 13 was more of an outlier rather than a sign of this run defense weakening. Darius Leonard continues to anchor this defense with his spectacular play at middle linebacker while Justin Houston is locking down his side of the defensive line despite his reputation as more of a pass-rushing specialist. With as well as this front seven has played, however, they still yield the advantage to the top-notch Saints offensive line--particularly as Pro Bowl candidate right tackle Ryan Ramczyk should by all accounts be able to hold his own against Houston. This Saints offensive line is helping to generate the third-most yards before contact (1.99) in the league and should have minimal issues winning in the trenches here.