The Arizona Cardinals still lead the league in sacks allowed on their quarterbacks, but over the past few weeks, that number has gotten much, much lower.
Bobby Massie is finally recognizing his potential as a rookie right tackle. He has not allowed a single sack since week 8 against the San Francisco 49ers. Since that time, he has given up just 4 pressures and 3 QB hurries, according to Pro Football Focus. He credits looking at PFF and seeing how horrendous his stats were for his turnaround.
Across from him is rookie left tackle, Nate Potter. Potter replaced veteran D'Anthony Batiste midway through the Packers game in week 9 and hasn't looked back. He has given up 4 sacks, 5 hits and 9 hurries in that time, but has proven to be a drastic improvement over Batiste. Plus, Levi Brown will be back next season, allowing Potter to continue to build strength and learn the ins and outs of the position.
As an offensive line unit, the Cardinals are improving. Even Adam Snyder, who I have been very critical of, has only given up one sack since week 7 (albeit, he missed two games).
So how do they stack up against the Bears' defense? We know they have some premium pass rushers in Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije, Henry Melton (who is doubtful to play), Shea McClellin and Nate Collins. PFF gives them an overall pass rush rating of +17.5.
Peppers has 10 sacks, 5 hits and 32 hurries through 14 games this season. His most effective running mate, Henry Melton, has 8 sacks of his own from the defensive tackle position in the Bears' 4-3 defense.
With Ryan Lindley set to start for the Cardinals at quarterback, it will be of the utmost importance for the offensive line to protect him in the pocket. He has been the worst quarterback in the league, so giving him as much time as possible will be important. He has passed for just 611 yards in his 141 passing attempts.
I would think that the Cardinals' line, given the good streak they are on, will be able to contain the Bears for most of the day, especially since Melton is not likely to play. Still, you can never really count on an offensive line this inconsistent to perform every game at a high level.
It will also be interesting to see how the Cards fare in run blocking, as they are the worst in that category as well, according to PFF. Beanie Wells, LaRod Stephens-Howling and William Powell have not been able to get any sort of substantial yardage in recent weeks because of poor blocking.
What do you think? Will the Bears defense or the Cardinals' offensive line win the battle for the line of scrimmage? Tell us in the comments section below.
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