Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah vs. Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil
Ansah has had a good amount of success going head-to-head with Kalil over the course of his short career. The Lions are expecting him to step up and blossom into a big-time pass rusher, and Sunday would be a good time to deliver. This matchup is one that could force Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to flee from the pocket early, and he's not nearly as athletic as some think.
The Lions want Ansah and the other defensive ends to squeeze Bridgewater, forcing him to step up into the pocket and into pressure coming from defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and company. Rookie T.J. Clemmings gets the start at right tackle and it looks like a matchup that favors the Lions as well. Defensive ends Jason Jones, Devin Taylor and Darryl Tapp will get moved off the ball in the run game is Clemmings has great power, but they have a decided advantage as pass rushers converting speed to power on the perimeter.
Vikings defensive end Everson Griffin vs. Lions left tackle Riley Reiff
On the other side of the fence, Griffin has a somewhat favorable matchup against Reiff. Reiff is going to have problems dealing with Griffin's explosive first step and power as he doesn't always anchor well. The Lions look to be getting back right tackle LaAdrian Waddle from injury this week, and I would consider the matchup between Waddle and Vikings defensive end Brian Robison a wash.
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants
Atlanta defensive end Vic Beasley vs. Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers
This matchup features two players drafted very early in the 2015 draft by teams wanting them to come in and start immediately. Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley was an absolute terror at Clemson over the past two seasons and anyone watching him in Week 1 can tell you that he gets off the ball like he is riding a a rocket ship. When the Giants drafted Flowers, the plan was to have him working as a starter at the right tackle position in his first year but an injury has forced him over to the left side. Flowers is more than capable of handling anything involving power in this matchup. However, he has mechanical flaws in his footwork in pass protection and can be exposed by an average pass rusher. Beasley is no average pass rusher and I'd expect this matchup to be a very big problem for the Giants this week.
St. Louis Rams at Washington Redskins
Rams defensive end Joel Long vs. Redskins right tackle Morgan Moses
The Redskins are starting Morgan Moses at the right tackle position this week and he will face off against Rams defensive end Joel Long. This is not a good matchup for Moses, as Long plays lower to the ground and with more power, speed and quickness than Moses. It is going to cause constant chaos at the right side of the Redskins offensive line. The Rams have advantageous matchups elsewhere along this offensive line, and Long will be squeezing Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins up into a pocket where defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers will be waiting, and that doesn't even mention defensive end Robert Quinn. This matchup definitely has the potential to alter the outcome of this game because of the amount of sacks the Rams will generate and turnovers they will force through pressure.
Stay tuned for a few more matchups as we get into the weekend.