Inside linebacker Joe Walkers has now played full time in both games since the Cardinals week 12 bye. While his four tackles in week 13 garnered little attention, Walker managed seven solos against the Steelers. The only question is, has his role been a result of matchups, or will he continue to play every snap going forward? Cleveland has not been a great matchup for linebackers on most weeks, but the Cardinals struggling run defense likely means a big dose of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. At the least, it looks like Walker is going to have plenty of opportunities.
Tanner Vallejo showed up in the Week 14 box score with a mark of 5-0-1 and a forced fumble. The numbers are a little eye-catching but there is really nothing to see here. Vallejo played 16 of the 21 snaps with three linebackers on the field. In previous weeks, all those snaps were going to Haason Reddick.
There is no questi0on that the Falcons defense has changed for the better since their bye in week nine. We can simply look at the fact Vic Beasley Jr and Takkarist McKinley have seven and a half sacks between them over the last five games. Both players are coming off a huge week 14 that saw Beasley go 4-0-2 with a pair of forced fumbles, and McKinley 3-2-2 against Carolina. These numbers will have a lot of points chasers thinking about starting them this week. Don’t fall into that trap. Look back at the previous two games when these guys combined for one tackle and three assists; then look at the matchup. There is no rhyme or reason to explain the inconsistency, and San Francisco is not a particularly strong matchup.