The Three Best Must See NFL Matchups In Week 16
Matchup No. 3 - Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger vs. the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense.
After the Steelers up and down season, they finally control their own destiny. With a win over the Chiefs, the Steelers will clinch a playoff spot. If the Steelers lose they would have to defeat current AFC North division leader to potentially advance to the playoffs. Last week Pittsburgh got a much needed 27-20 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. It was a nice team victory where several players made a major impact. Roethlisberger threw for 360 passing yards, Le’Veon Bell ran for 2 touchdowns and the defense forced a defensive touchdown. The Chiefs finally got back on track last week with a 31-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders. The Chiefs at 8-6 need to win out if they want a chance to make the postseason. Is it possible this is the week a Chiefs’ wide receiver scores a receiving touchdown? Somehow, someway no Chiefs receiver has scored a receiving touchdown all year. This dubious record has got to end sometime right?
What do Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers all have in common? This season they all have fewer passing yards than Roethlisberger. Quietly, with little media attention Roethlisberger is putting up an aerial assault on NFL defenses. Right now Roethlisberger ranks in the top five in; completions, attempts, completion %, passing yards, yards per attempt, longest pass, and QB rating. I remember the days when Roethlisberger was a game manager who needed a dominating defense to win games. Those days are behind us. The Steelers are currently scoring nearly 28 points a game, 2nd in passing yards and 1st in total offensive yards. When Roethlisberger drops back to pass he can create plays in the pocket and on the run. He can pick defenses apart from the pocket but is even more difficult to stop when he scrambles and extends plays. His size, strength and elusiveness allow him to create plays when other quarterback would be sacked. Roethlisberger has a strong arm and can make all the throws a quarterback would need to make. This season his completion % is by far his career high. Roethlisberger has the luxury of some excellent receiving studs. Antonio Brown leads all receivers in catches, targets and receiving yards. Running back Le’Veon Bell is one of the best receiving backs in the game. This season he has caught 76 passes, 765 receiving yards and 3 receiving touchdowns. Tight end Heath Miller is a reliable player who can convert key 3rd down conversions. Rookie receiver Martavis Bryant is a tremendous big time playmaker. He averages 20+ yards a catch and has converted 24 receptions into 7 touchdowns.
The Chiefs pass defense could be the kryptonite to this passing attack. The Chiefs rank 2nd in passing yards allowed at only 199.2 per game. Opposing offenses complete a meager 57.6% of passes against the Chiefs. This is also the 2nd best rank among NFL defenses. The pass defense also ranks in the top five in completions allowed and yards per attempt. The Chiefs secondary though has allowed 21 passing touchdowns. The secondary has only forced 4 interceptions which is the worst among all defenses. The Chiefs best defensive playmaker is none other than linebacker Justin Houston. He has forced a league leading 17 sacks and also forced 3 fumbles. Roethlisberger is a tough guy to bring down but Houston is a guy who can really get after him. The Chiefs pass rush will be instrumental in containing the passing game. I like the Chiefs chances only if, they can force multiple sacks and turnovers against the Steelers.
Matchup No. 2 - Seattle Seahawks Marshawn Lynch vs. the Arizona Cardinals’ defense:
This is a Sunday Night primetime battle for the division lead. The Arizona Cardinals would clinch the division title and a first round bye with a victory. The Cardinals only have one offensive touchdown in the last two games, yet they are on a two game winning streak. This season they are the masters of winning close games. The Cardinals are 4-0 in games separated by seven points or less. The Seattle Seahawks four weeks ago trailed the Cardinals by a full three games for the division crown. With a victory the Seahawks will take over the division lead. No team during the Seahawks four game winning streak has scored more than 14 points. Surprisingly the Seahawks are rather mediocre in close games. They are only 3-3 in games decided by seven points or less.
The Seahawks are in the top three in rushing attempts, rushing yards, yards per carry and rushing touchdowns. Rushing is their identity that is how they win. Consider that during the recent four game winning streak in each game they have had more rushing than passing attempts. Many football experts believe Lynch is leaving the Seahawks after this season. It appears Lynch is having a beast mode farewell tour! If he leaves there will 31 other stadiums that he could take his show on the road to! This season Lynch ranks among league leader in; rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and receiving touchdowns. Lynch is a determined runner who uses his size and strength to break tackles and wear down defenses. Pound for pound he is one of the toughest running backs of his generation. When the Seahawks have the lead late in games they rely on Lynch to run out the clock on the opposition. His importance to this team, this game cannot be overstated.
The Cardinals will throw everything but the kitchen sink to win this matchup. The Cardinals can become the 1st team in NFL history to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium. They know their best chance is to clinch a bye and use that home field to advance to the Super Bowl. The first order of business is stopping the Seahawks rushing attack. The Cardinals have one of best run defenses in the NFL. They rank 6th overall allowing less than 91 rushing yards per game. Defensive end Calais Campbell is a force to be reckoned with. At 6’ 8” 300 lbs. he overwhelms offensive lineman with his size and quickness. This week he is questionable so his ability to play could make an impact on this game. Safety Rashad Johnson is another difference maker for the defense. He leads the team in tackles, interceptions and has two defensive touchdown returns. Johnson must be a sure handed tackler or Lynch or Russell Wilson will break off some big runs. Points will likely be at a premium but that doesn’t make this matchup any less exciting.
Matchup No. 1 - Cincinnati Bengals Jeremy Hill vs. the Denver Broncos’ defense.
I would like to welcome Jeremy Hill to my weekly article. Without much fanfare this rookie running back is having a breakout season. Consider that Hill was a backup running back for half of season and was recently announced the starter. This season he still ranks 11th in rushing yards, 4th in yards per carry, and 4th in rushing touchdowns. In five games he has had at least fifteen carries he has put up these numbers. He has 109 carries, 615 rushing yards and 6 rushing touchdowns. Those numbers over a sixteen game season would equal, 349 carries, 1968 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns. That would likely rank him 1st in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns a fantasy owners dream. So if you are considering benching Hill even against the tough Broncos defense I urge you to reconsider. Hill is a one cut runner who can use his size and strength to break tackles. For a player with his size he shows surprisingly agility, elusiveness to make defenders miss in the open field. The Bengals win probability is directly correlated with their ability to run the football. If the Bengals control the clock that puts Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas and C.J. Anderson on the sidelines where they can’t score from. If Hill is pounding the rock that means Andy Dalton can’t throw interceptions. This is the best run defense Hill has faced so let’s see if he can elevate his game against top competition.
This season the Broncos currently rank 2nd overall in; rushing attempts, rushing yards allowed and yards per carry. The run defense has been dominant ever since the Broncos Week 4 bye. Only one team has recorded even 100 total rushing yards since the Broncos bye week. Broncos’ defensive tackle Terrance Knighton wreaks havoc against offensive lineman. Knighton is 6’ 3” and 331 lbs. and uses his size and agility to overwhelm the opposition. Linebacker Von Miller is known for his pass rush ability. This season he leads the team with 13 quarterback sacks. This week his ability to contain the running game will be instrumental in beating the Bengals. I predict the Bengals will jump out to an early lead but the Broncos will pull away late with a 31-20 victory.