Falcons take it to Bucs
Week 15 Recap: The Bucs defense was run over for the second week in a row (Panthers in Week 14) as the Falcons' offensive line had another strong performance, especially in the running game. The offense had a "grind it out" performance on the ground, gaining 175 yards on 43 carries (4.1 yards per carry). Pass protection was very strong as well, as the unit allowed just one sack in 23 pass attempts.
Up Next: at Minnesota. This will be the ultimate test for the Falcons' offensive line, as the unit -- in a run-based offense -- will face the Vikings' top-ranked run defense (71.2 yards per game), on the road no less. As long as the game is close, the Falcons will likely pound the ball on the ground, to mixed results. Atlanta's line also has a tough matchup in pass protection, as the Vikings come into Week 15 with the third most sacks in the league (41).
Bills' line up and down against Jets
Week 15 Recap: The Bills' offensive line had a huge performance in the running game against a Jets run defense that came into Week 15 allowing just 83.5 yards per game. The Bills offense gained 187 yards rushing on 32 carries (5.8 yards per carry), led by Marshawn Lynch's 127-yard performance. Pass-protection issues were to be expected against an effective pass-rushing unit, as Buffalo allowed three sacks in 39 pass attempts.
Up Next: at Denver. The Broncos defense continues to struggle against the run (140.1 yards per game) as well as the pass (233.3 yards per game). The weather could always become a factor when the Broncos play at home in December. If that is the case, look for a huge game from Lynch, provided the Bills can keep the game close.
Lions close, but no cigar
Week 15 Recap: The Lions offensive line, which is one of the worst in the league, had one of its best performances of the season against the Colts. The running game had productive numbers, gaining 90 yards on 22 carries (4.1 yards per carry). Pass protection was unbelievable, as the unit did not allow a sack in 34 pass attempts. The one thing the Lions deserve credit for is not giving up. This game was an opportunity for further implosion, but Detroit managed to keep it (somewhat) close.
Up Next: vs. New Orleans. The Saints defense is not going to shut down the opposing offense. It's New Orleans' offense that tends to dictate the pace of games. Look for the Lions to be down and the passing game to post decent numbers, likely in garbage time, as the offense tries to keep up. Running back Kevin Smith has a decent matchup, provided the Lions can stay within striking distance.
Patriots' ground game pounds Raiders
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Week 15 Recap: The Patriots' offensive line took advantage of a favorable matchup as the offense ran all over the Raiders' struggling run defense. The running game gained 277 yards on 39 carries (7.1 yards per carry), led by Sammy Morris (117 yards) and LaMont Jordan (97 yards). Pass protection was average, as the unit allowed two sacks in 30 pass attempts.
Up Next: vs. Arizona. The Cardinals offense will likely struggle to put up points in the elements, as the weather is expected to be a major factor in this game. The key will be run blocking, as the Cardinals will allow rushing yards (106.7 yards per game). If the weather is as bad as forecasted, the Patriots' running game will likely be leaned on heavily and should post good numbers.
Ravens' line respectable in loss to Steelers
Week 15 Recap: Yes, the team lost a close, disputed game, but the Ravens' offensive line had about as good of a game as you could hope for against the stifling Steelers defense. The running game had better-than-expected success, gaining 112 yards on 31 carries (3.6 yards per carry). Pass protection was solid, as the line allowed just two sacks in 28 pass attempts against a Pittsburgh pass rush that came into Week 15 with the most sacks in the league.
Up Next: at Dallas (Saturday). With eight sacks against the Giants in Week 15, the Cowboys defense has taken over the league lead with 53. The Ravens' offensive line will have its hands full, attempting to keep the Cowboys pass rush at bay. Dallas is also solid against the run, allowing 93.1 yards per game. For the Ravens to stay in this game, their running game must perform, putting added pressure on the Ravens' offensive line to run block.