BOTTOM 4 RUSHING MATCHUPS WEEK 19
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New Orleans vs Tampa Bay
The Saints’ prolific ground game continues to hum along, averaging a stunning 162 yards over their last 7 games. Alvin Kamara remains the Saints’ offensive engine; he dictates virtually everything on the ground and much through the air. Kamara’s surprising Sunday return to the team proved huge as he turned 23 carries into 99 game-controlling yards. A chunk of the credit goes to the Saints’ elite front line, which is custom-built to clear paths for the dynamic Kamara. They boast star talent across the line, and they’re versatile enough to blow open holes all over the formation. Latavius Murray is typically a notable part of the attack, though he was mostly invisible in the first round (four rushes). And it’s worth noting that Saints quarterbacks took more carries from within two yards of the end zone than Josh Allen or Kyler Murray did on the year. No one likes facing this stingy Tampa Bay run defense, but Sean Payton and the Saints won’t be intimidated away from trying.
The Buccaneers run defense remains the NFL’s gold standard. Their run of dominance spans back over a calendar year, with very few opposing runners putting up any production of note along the way. Here in 2020, they’ve definitively shut down the likes of Christian McCaffrey, Aaron Jones, Josh Jacobs, and a handful of other elite backs. Alvin Kamara himself has been stymied in this matchup, turning 50 carries into just 193 yards (3.9 apiece) over their last 4 meetings. Antonio Gibson found no room here in Round 1, and that came against a Buccaneers unit lacking two of its most impactful pieces. They’ll get back nose tackle Steve McLendon and linebacker Devin White this weekend, boosting a group that’s so deep and well-schemed it hardly missed them. McLendon has been tremendous, an under-the-radar signing right after Vita Vea’s early-season injury. And while White remains a work in progress all-around, there’s no denying his impact as a striking playmaker. He and Lavonte David, who’s turned in the best season of a stellar career, are both second-team All-Pros, and they form the backbone of a fantasy matchup no one wants to face. Kamara and the Saints will need to get creative to find anything useful against this suffocating group.
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