Rushing Stats Analysis – Find the Gap Week 4
Another weekend of wild footballing has already brought us to Week 4! This recent slate of matches continued the crazy start to the season. But how did the Week 3 selections match up to the rushing predictions?
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS – 22 carries, 77 yards (3.5 yards per carry)
Did the Chargers take my advice about hitting runs to the right end? No. They ran the ball once in that direction – and likely missed out on a large chance to carve the Chiefs up.
Los Angeles found themselves hitting big runs later on in the game. The ground game was largely responsible for getting the Chargers into that vital position for the winning touchdown. But the game was close up until that point and it was the Chiefs that saw the majority of the rushing action (186 yards off 30 carries).
BALTIMORE RAVENS – 22 carries, 116 yards (5.3 yards per carry)
Another game that stayed very close. Baltimore had many defensive pieces drop out after getting ‘pinged’, and Detroit could smell the blood in the water. Unfortunately, this happened after the article dropped, so it was not unexpected to see the Lions keep this game within reach.
Lamar Jackson was also kept fairly quiet during the game. Lions defenders making several key tackles to stifle the Quarterback’s running threat. And although both key Running Backs Latavius Murray and Ty’Son Williams got decent averages, that volume just didn’t appear.
ARIZONA CARDINALS – 30 carries, 91 yards and 3 touchdowns (3 yards per carry)
This game started out so well for the article series. Kyler Murray wheels away to the left and waltzes into the endzone, and we’re already one rush TD up.
But the first half of this game looked to spring a shock for everyone. Matt Prater pushing for the all-time field goal distance record…turns into a huge Jamal Agnew return touchdown. Jacksonville go into the half ahead, and Arizona have it all to do. It was only once the Cardinals had turned this game around that we saw them really hit the ground game. James Conner added another two rushing touchdowns in the second half, and the team ended up with 30 carries.
WEEK 4 SELECTIONS
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (vs. SEAHAWKS)
A topsy-turvy couple of opening weeks have left the Niners with a whole new set of rushing starters. And the declining Seahawks defense could be the answer for inconsistency issues.
REASONS TO CONSIDER
- The Seahawks have struggled to get any consistent offense over the first three weeks of the season. Although the Niners defense looks a little bruised, they have contained several strong offenses well in the opening games. This could be the key to opening the door to a positive game script.
- Volume is key – the Hawks have faced a lot of carries in the first three weeks. And this includes a backup Running Back in Alexander Mattison. The Viking saw 26 carries in the Week 3 game, and saw 3 carries of over 10 yards. Combine this with the Seattle struggles to score second half points, and this may help San Francisco stretch a lead further.
- While the Niners’ Running Backs have been rotated heavily through injury, the rushing tendancies seem to stay the same. 36% of the teams carries have gone outside of the offensive line. Yards gained in these areas are amongst the highest in the NFL. And it’s also an area that the Hawks seem to be weakest in. Seattle have conceded an average of 8.37 yards per carry on runs around the left end. This could be a key area for the Niners to exploit.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (at VIKINGS)
The Cleveland Browns continued a strong outing against the Bears. Their defense stifled the opposition to get the win. Now, it could be the offenses turn to help get the W.
REASONS TO CONSIDER
- The Vikings have struggled to contain carries up the middle of their defensive line. Although they have faced amongst the fewest carries in this direction, the average yards off those carries is the fourth highest in the NFL (5.43).
- This volume could be down to how close the first two games of the Vikings season were (both one score games), and how well they controlled the second half of their Week 3 game against the Seahawks. The Browns offer a much tougher challenge in Week 4 – they are a ground-based offence, with the highest number of carries so far this season.
- This game also provides an ideal matchup in terms of 10+ yard carries. Cleveland have made the second-most rushing attempts over that distance (15; 14.7% of all carries). Minnesota have conceded the second-most carries of that distance (12; 15% of all conceded). If anything sets up the Browns to do well here, these significant carries could be it.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (vs. GIANTS)
Without context, the Saints’ Week 2 matchup against the Panthers looked like a tough outing. But a strong result against the Patriots set them up well for this game against the G-Men.
REASONS TO CONSIDER
- New Orleans’ staff absences caused the entire offense to look like inexperienced rookies in Week 2. The Panthers took advantage and walked away with the win. The week after saw several coaches return – and the performance level rose. Four of the five charted zones saw an improvement in yards per carry. As a result, the Saints came away with an impressive win against the Patriots. And that continued presence will help the team against a moribund Giants team.
- The Giants have seen many injuries in recent weeks. None of these are more important than Linebacker Blake Martinez, who suffered a serious knee injury. Martinez had been a key piece in the Giants rush defense, with 21 tackles in his first two games. He was also one of the defensive signal caller. Without him in the heart of the defensive backfield, this opens up a lot of opportunities for the Saints rushing offense.
- Rather surprisingly, the Giants have faced relatively few rush attempts. Much like the Vikings, games have been kept relatively close (thanks in part to Martinez’ elite contribution). But their Week 4 opponents are another step up compared to who they have played thus far.
- The question is where the carries will come from – there are many rushing threats throughout this offense to choose from. The two Quarterbacks offer legitimate rushing outlets – and they have both run in touchdowns already. Alvin Kamara also stands to continue that upward tick in volume from Week 3. And Tony Jones looked sharp enough in the pre-season to dislodge Latavius Murray from a prestigious backup spot. It’ll give the Giants headaches working out where the runs will come from.
Join me next week to see how those three teams did!
Until then, keep rushing!