Matt Williamson's PrimeTime Previews
@WilliamsonNFL lets you know about the games that you can play along with on your Fanium App.
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland
The Chargers are playing their best football of the season thus far. They are finally finding a nice balance in their backfield and Melvin Gordon is coming off by far his most impressive game of the season. But Oakland’s run defense has been noticeably better than their ability to stop the pass. The Raiders are lacking talent and playmakers on defense and opposing wide receivers are ripping this unit up. It has been Hunter Henry that has been Rivers favorite target since returning from injury, but Keenan Allen and Mike Williams team with Henry and Austin Ekeler to give the Chargers an excellent group of pass catchers. There is a lot of firepower here that Oakland should have a very tough time dealing with. Rivers should find matchups to his liking all evening. Even though Oakland has a run-heavy offense, Derek Carr has thrown for at least 285 yards in each of the last three games and overall, the Raiders are extremely underrated on this side of the ball. Los Angeles isn’t very stout at the point of attack and are suspect tacklers overall. This is a defense that can be pushed around and the Raiders do that with their massive offensive line about as well as any team in the league. This offense will go through Josh Jacobs, who is starting to run away with Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Tyrell Williams should see a lot of Casey Hayward and the Chargers have been stingy against opposing tight ends, so Carr might have a tough go of it in this game, although this passing game has been highly efficient. Both of these teams are better on offense than they are on defense, so we might see plenty of points on Thursday night, but the Raiders might try to shorten the game and lean heavily on Jacobs as its focal point.
Minnesota at Dallas
Dallas’ offense is averaging 3.25 touchdowns per game, second best in the NFL. There is an argument to be made that the Cowboys actually have the best offense in the entire league right now. They are equally potent throwing and running the football. Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes' reputation has exceeded their play on the field of late which could lead to big days from Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, as well as Dak Prescott, who is having a phenomenal year. The Vikings have a good run defense, but Ezekiel Elliott should still do plenty of damage. In terms of offensive and defensive balance, the Vikings are amongst the best in the league with well above average units on both sides of the ball. Like Dallas, the Vikings are also very potent throwing or running. The Vikings are extremely run-heavy on offense, but they are still searching for suitable receiving options outside of Stefon Diggs with Adam Thielen likely sidelined again this week. Minnesota’s tight ends have stepped up to some degree and Irv Smith Jr. looks like he could develop into an impact player. But obviously the Vikings offense goes through Dalvin Cook, who also is contributing a great deal as a receiver. Cook has touched the ball at least 18 times in every game this year. Minnesota’s offensive line is much better than last year, but this will be a tough matchup for them on the road and Kirk Cousins could see plenty of pressure. These teams could meet again in the playoffs.
Seattle at San Francisco
After nine weeks, Russell Wilson is the clear vote as the NFL’s MVP. So, on Monday night we get the MVP vs. the only undefeated team in the NFL. We know that Seattle favors the running game, but they opened it up against the Buccaneers last week and Wilson was spectacular. Wilson is obviously very elusive but protecting him in this contest could be difficult for the Seahawks, so they should go back to featuring Chris Carson on the road. Still, Wilson is an elite deep ball passer, has more touchdown throws than any quarterback in the league and clearly has off the charts big play potential. DK Metcalf is really coming into his own as a downfield target and red zone weapon while Tyler Lockett has really played as well as just about any wide receiver in the league in 2019. Josh Gordon should see the field this week for the first time in a Seahawks uniform as well. Seattle’s passing game is just lethal right now. Only the Patriots rival San Francisco as the best defense in football. That being said, this is a defense that can be run on. The Seahawks are far stronger on offense than they are on defense, but they have limited tight end production which of course is very noteworthy against George Kittle. That being said, Emmanuel Sanders has made a huge influence since coming over via trade from the Broncos and Seattle is very weak on the back end of their defense. Jimmy Garoppolo looks like he is turning a corner and stepping up, but without question, Kyle Shanahan’s running game is what most fuels this exceptional offense. The 49ers are really hard to play against right now.