Week 12 NFL mismatches: Why Steelers, Bears, Saints could roll


Yardbarker’s Michael Nania analyzes the biggest positional mismatches each week during the NFL season.

Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt vs. Bengals RT Bobby Hart

Why Hart is overmatched: Among tackles, he is tied for sixth in penalties (nine) and has allowed the eighth-most pressures (30). Hart ranks a more respectable 33rd of 61 qualified tackles in pass blocking efficiency, as he has played the fifth-most pass-block snaps among tackles (438). But his struggles are a major reason why the Bengals’ offensive line is among the league’s worst. Cincinnati ranks 25th in sack rate allowed (8.3 percent) and 26th in rush offense DVOA.

In Week 4 against the Steelers, Hart had his worst game of the season. He was beaten for a season-high two sacks and seven pressures, and was penalized twice. The Bengals also were unsuccessful running in Hart’s direction, gaining just 25 yards on nine carries (2.8 per attempt) to the right side.

Why Watt will dominate: He is in the midst of a tremendous season as a pass rusher, ranking third in sacks (10.5) and sixth in pressures (53). He comes into Week 12 on fire, leading the NFL in pressures over the past four weeks with 26. He has registered a sack in seven consecutive games, and at least five pressures in five consecutive games.

Watt is one of the league’s most dominant rushers from the left side of the defense. He has rushed from the left side 98.4 percent of the time; each of his 53 pressures have come from that side. Only Minnesota’s Danielle Hunter (69 pressures) has created more pressure rushing from the left side.

Fantasy impact:  The Bengals’ passing game has been a fantasy non-factor since rookie Ryan Finley took over at QB. Expect that to continue. Bengals head coach  Zac Taylor should lean heavily on running back Joe Mixon, who has averaged 24 touches and 127 yards from scrimmage over his past two games. Perhaps there’s a fantasy play there.

How Watt does it: Watt took advantage of Hart in the teams’ previous meeting,  a 27-3 Steelers win, collecting 1.5 sacks, six pressures, and a fumble recovery. On the play below, Watt beats Hart for a half-sack (shared with Cameron Heyward). Watt gives a subtle inside fake, chops down Hart’s outside punch, and rips underneath to get home.





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