Thursday Night Football
Denver Run Game vs. Baltimore Defense
I expect the Broncos' running game to be improved with the addition of RG Louis Vasquez and the ability to go to three-wideout sets with Wes Welker on the field, but this week might be a good time to pass on the Broncos RBs.
Haloti Ngata was injured for most of last season and it showed on the field. With Ngata healthy and playing inside over replacement Manuel Ramirez, the Broncos will find the going tough on the interior. The Ravens lost some name players from their defense, but they were replaced with pretty solid football players at most every position. The Ravens are younger and faster and it wouldn't shock me to see the Broncos get away from their running game by the second half unless they take a comfortable lead.
Moving the Sticks
1. Redskins O vs. Eagles D - Believe it or not, the Redskins didn't have a 100-yard rusher in either of their games against the Eagles last year. That changes Sunday. The Eagles' up-tempo offense will lead to more plays and possessions for opposing offenses, and the Philadelphia defense is not prepared to take on the coordinated rushing attack of the Redskins. Look for Alfred Morris to hang a big fantasy number on the Eagles, and Roy Helu could be a factor in this one as well.
2. David Wilson vs. Dallas D - Monte Kiffin is installing his version of the "Tampa-Two", but the combination of a new defense and battered defensive line makes for a must-start situation for Wilson owners. The Giants were one of the most consistent run-blocking units in football last year and they have a chance to push Dallas around badly up front.
3. Atlanta O-line vs. Saints D-line - I won't have too many weeks where I give the nod to the Atlanta offensive line, but this is one of them. The Falcons do a good job of protecting Matt Ryan and the Saints don't rush the passer well, so New Orleans will have to keep its safeties back. While I don't love the run blocking (hell, I don't even remotely like it) of the Falcons, LG Justin Blalock and C Peter Konz should have a solid day opening holes on the interior.
The Big 8 Offensive Lines of the Week
1. New York Giants
2. New England Patriots
3. Tampa Bay Bucs
4. San Francisco 49ers
5. Seattle Seahawks
6. Tennessee Titans
7. New Orleans Saints
8. Atlanta Falcons
Three Offensive Lines in Trouble
1. Arizona Cardinals - The Cardinals have a new head coach and offense, but they lost their first-round guard (Jonathan Cooper) and the Rams have a budding front four that could dominate this game.
2. Green Bay Packers - So you have brand-new starters at both tackles and a weak interior offensive line. Well good luck with that against the 49'ers.
3. San Diego Chargers - J.J. Watt should go to town, but the other big concern for the Chargers is dealing with the quickness of a 3-4 defense that sports two inside linebackers who can blitz. Too much to handle for this unit. Their best chance is to try and run at OLB Whitney Mercilus.
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- Haloti Ngata