Entering Week 14, Tampa Bay's defense had allowed just one rushing touchdown all season. They were holding opponents to 95.4 rushing yards per game and 3.8 per carry.
Exiting Week 14, the numbers look somewhat less impressive: five rushing TDs, 111.1 yards per game, and 4.3 per carry.
The Bucs were absolutely punished by Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams on Monday night. That pair combined for 301 rushing yards, four touchdowns, and two of the worst moments of Ronde Barber's career (one of which is pictured on the right). Rookie right tackle Jeff Otah was particularly dominant, but the run-blocking at every position was exceptional.
But this isn't supposed to be a Monday wrap. (If it were, we might have worked Antonio Bryant into the introduction somewhere. Check the highlight of his fourth quarter TD). Instead, we're looking ahead to Week 15, when Carolina hosts Denver. The Broncos run defense is among the NFL's worst. They allow nearly 140 rushing yards per game, 4.9 yards per carry, and they surrender the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs.
If the Panthers can so thoroughly overwhelm a competent defense like Tampa's, just imagine how they'll treat a bad...
Well, actually, you don't have to imagine anything. You can just check the box scores from Carolina's wins over Green Bay, Detroit, Oakland and Kansas City. Williams gained 497 total yards in those four games and he scored 10 touchdowns. If you give the Carolina backs a soft defense, they destroy it, always.
Here's a look at the rest of the user-friendly Ds, with their end-of-season schedules:
These teams have been particularly weak against the run and pass:
• Several widely-available running backs have favorable match-ups in Week 15. They include Dominic Rhodes (75 percent owned in PLUS leagues), Darren Sproles (46), Sammy Morris (76), Kevin Faulk (78), Maurice Morris (27) and Fred Taylor (53). Sproles faces a Kansas City defense that often allows multiple backs to run for 50 yards or more. That's happened eight times in 13 games.
In other Chiefs news, they're still stuck on six sacks. The NFL record for fewest total sacks in a season is 11, and that was set in 1982, a strike-shortened year that lasted only nine games.
• The weather forecast for Thursday's Chicago-New Orleans game isn't too intimidating, so there's no reason to panic, Brees/Colston/Moore owners. You'll notice that the Saints get the Lions in Week 16.
• St. Louis averages just 13.0 total points per game. The Week 15 matchup is favorable, but the Rams offense has reached 20 points just once this season. You're starting Steven Jackson, but it's tough to make a case for anyone else.
It's much easier to build an argument on behalf of St. Louis' opponent, Seattle. We did it yesterday, in fact.
• Here's Jim Zorn on Clinton Portis, via the Washington Post:
Zorn said Portis, who isn't available to the media until later in the week, is still "the bell cow" and he expects him to be healthier and very active Sunday at Cincinnati.
Just to state the obvious: I'll be honest, Jim, that was sounding great. But I could have used a little more cowbell.
Photo via AP Images