Andrew Luck and Philip Rivers will have trouble stepping up today, in the pocket at least. If they can maneuver around the destructive interior rush brought on by major mismatches facing them up front, then perhaps they can overcome the heat and prevail victors.
In a quick prep for a Week 13 while you chomp down eggs and toast (/while I do it) here are a few of the greatest positional mismatches heading into the Sunday NFL slate.
Lions interior DL of Nick Fairley, Ndamukong Suh and Sammie Hill vs. Colts interior OL of Matt McGlynn, Sam Satele and Joe Reitz: The Lions trio has made life miserable the last couple weeks for Aaron Rodgers and Matt Schaub while the Colts inside protection has been up and down this year — very much down against the Bills last week. Nick Fairley is no longer a punch-line for bad Lions draft picks, far from it in fact
Geno Atkins vs. Chargers’ sorry excuse for an offensive line: It’s a shame to watch someone with as much talent I believe Ryan Mathews has just find nowhere to go. It’s only a surprise when there is not major backfield penetration by the team Mathews takes a step forward.
And the same goes for Philip Rivers once he hits the back of his drop. Rivers was regarded as the toughest quarterback under pressure by Greg Cosell prior to this season and with good reason — for which Rivers has repaid him by crumbling under it this year in a severe regression for the quarterback that has seen some of the ugliest shot-puts in NFL or Olympic history.
Meet Geno Atkins, who is having, as PFF is lauding, the best season by a defensive tackle they have ever recorded.
Peyton Manning/Broncos receivers vs. Buccaneers secondary: Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas is terrifying with the football in his hands and Eric Decker is doing his best Reggie Wayne impression (albeit with less reliable hands). Then there’s the Bucs secondary, well on pace to shatter the record for worst total pass defense in a season in NFL history.
First-rounder Mark Barron hasn’t progressed in pass defense quite like the Bucs have probably hoped at this point, Ronde Barber is a cagy yet limited vet. The top two corners are gone in Eric Wright (suspension) and Aqib Talib (trade). Boom! Points.
Adrian Peterson vs. Packers Run D: We all saw the ease with which the Giants and Ahmad Bradshaw rumbled through the Packers deplete LB corps, and the inhuman manner in which AP has recovered from ripping up his knee late last season. The Rodgers-Ponder differential has me picking Packers outright, but this mismatch on the ground could keep it close.
49ers Pass Rush vs. Rams Pass Pro: The Rams held off the Niners’ siege in a game that frankly didn’t make sense. On paper, Aldon Smith + Ahmad Brooks + Justin Smith + Ray McDonald makes a horrible mismatch for Rodger Saffold and Barry Richardson, no matter how pleasantly surprising they might be sometimes.
Since that strange overtime game, the Niners’ pass rush has beaten the living daylights out of Chicago and New Orleans, and I expect them to file the first Rams’ matchup under “anomaly” today.