Here's a breakdown of four significant mismatches in Week 10:
In this week’s marquee mismatch, defending sack king Chandler Jones will be pitted against middling Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher. In theory, the 2-6 Cardinals don't have much of a shot to win this game, but they could make Patrick Mahomes' life more difficult than expected due to Jones' prowess off the edge.
Listed at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, Jones has the ideal frame to combine with his fluid movement skills, incredibly refined hand techniques, and precise footwork. His stride length allows him to gobble up ground and stress offensive tackles' pass sets, while his unique ability to sequence his moves allows him to ward off and counter blockers' strikes while running a smooth edge track.
Against the run, Jones leverages his 35.5-inch arms to set a strong edge, funneling ball-carriers toward the center of the field. He has the block-destruction techniques to penetrate the line, along with the quickness to pursue from the backside.
Fisher will certainly have his hands full Sunday. He tends to be inconsistent with his weight distribution and hand timing in pass protection, while he lacks the strength and technique to consistently get the better of Jones in the running game.
Here's an example of Fisher struggling to protect on a passing play - specifically when a defender converts their speed to power. Fisher's base tends to get too narrow at the point of attack, making it difficult to anchor against strong bull rushes:
On the play above, Fisher's lined up opposite Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. After bursting upfield for three steps, Garrett converts his speed to power; he drops his pad level, puts his helmet into Fisher’s chest, and walks the offensive lineman into Mahomes with a bull rush.
Notice that when Garrett makes contact with Fisher’s chest, the left tackle’s feet are almost touching - that’s way too narrow of a base. It means Fisher must reset his feet before he can even think about anchoring against the bull rush, which is entirely too late.
Meanwhile, because Jones isn't the most powerful or violent player, people often sleep on his ability to convert speed to power. He's not going to win with raw strength, but instead with timing, leverage, and proper hand placement. Here's a great example:
On this play, Jones executes a speed-to-power bull rush, similar to the one Garrett used above. In a matchup against Seahawks left tackle Duane Brown, Jones' initial movements mimic a long-arm pass-rush technique meant to win around the edge. But as soon as Brown turns his shoulders perpendicular to the line of scrimmage, Jones converts to a full bull rush that drives Brown backward, before tossing him aside for the sack.
That ability to convert speed to power should give Fisher fits on Sunday, and it should lead to a dominant performance from Jones. To have any chance, Fisher will need to rely on all the misdirection that Kansas City uses to put himself in advantageous blocking positions.
The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Cox is one of the most disruptive interior defenders in the NFL, and the Cowboys have yet to find a solution for blocking him. All-Pro right guard Zack Martin has the best chance to stymie the Mississippi State product, but even he's had trouble with the unique mix of power, length, and quickness that Cox brings to the table. Meanwhile, left guard Connor Williams will likely miss Sunday night's game with a knee issue, making things even more difficult.
In fact, among defensive tackles not named Aaron Donald, Cox has arguably been the best in the league this season with 25 tackles and four sacks in eight games. And while those stats are impressive, they still don't do Cox justice, as he's consistently disruptive on a snap-to-snap basis.
Here’s an example of the technical refinement that allows Cox to be effective beyond simply using his tantalizing physical skill set:
Above, Cox is aligned with an outside shade over Giants right guard Patrick Omameh and uses subtle, nuanced techniques to record the sack. After the ball is snapped, Cox takes a quick step toward Omameh, which causes the guard to narrow his pass set. But after that initial step, Cox expands his rush outside, which forces Omameh to lunge a bit with his strike.
From there, Cox feints with a two-hand swipe, which prompts Omameh to lift his hands, giving Cox the space he needs to dip and rip around the edge.
Plays like this make Cox nearly unblockable, and they're the reason the Cowboys' interior offensive line is going to struggle mightily against him on Sunday.
David Bakhtiari - who's allowed just two sacks this year and was named our Midseason Film Room All-Star at the tackle position - will have a chance to demonstrate his elite skill set on Sunday against formerly great Miami Dolphins pass-rusher Robert Quinn.
Since his heyday with the Rams, Quinn's been one of the most overrated edge defenders in the NFL. He's racked up huge games against subpar opponents but often turns into a ghost against the better offensive tackles in the NFL.
With that said, and with the Packers desperately needing a win this weekend, Bakhtiari's advantage over Quinn could ultimately decide the game.
At this point in his career, Quinn's only hope to generate pressure is his speed rush off the edge. But unfortunately for him, Bakhtiari's mastered the ability to take away opponents' speed rushes, as he uses quick feet, proper body position, and unique hand techniques to stymie them with regularity. Here's an example:
The best offensive tackles make it look easy - even against great competition. That's exactly what Bakhtiari does in a matchup with Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes, one of the most productive pass-rushers in the league this year. On the passing play above, Hughes tries to threaten the edge with speed, but Bakhtiari's too quick as he beats Hughes to the intersection point and walls off the defender from pressuring Aaron Rodgers.
Expect similar things against Quinn throughout Sunday's game, as the former All-Pro pass-rusher will likely be rendered irrelevant by the best left tackle in football.
Overlooked amid the offensive brilliance of Sean Payton, Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas is New Orleans Saints left tackle Terron Armstead, who's been playing at the highest level of his six-year career this season. He's yet to allow a single sack in pass protection, while he's opened up running lanes on the ground for the Saints' dangerous group of ball-carriers.
This week, Armstead should have his way with the Cincinnati Bengals' assortment of defensive ends. It would have been interesting to see him matched up against Carl Lawson, one of the best young pass-rushers in the NFL, but Lawson's out for the year with a torn ACL, which will make Armstead's life much easier.
In pass protection, Armstead leverages his considerable athletic ability to mirror rushers around the edge, employing phenomenal hand timing to strike and disrupt defenders. He's also proven versatile with the ability to vary his pass sets against the trickier pass-rushers in the league.
But most of all, the trait that makes Armstead stand out is his patience. Instead of looking to constantly get in heated hand-fighting battles at the point of attack, Armstead waits patiently for the perfect time to latch onto defenders. Here's an example:
On this play, Armstead's lined up against Rams pass-rusher Dante Fowler. After bursting toward Armstead's center line with his initial steps, Fowler looks to expand his rush upfield so he can speed around the edge, employing a cross chop move. But Armstead remains patient, Fowler whiffs with his cross chop, and Armstead has the time he needs to latch onto Fowler, effectively ending the rush.
That skill will come in handy against the Bengals' defensive ends - likely Carlos Dunlap and Jordan Willis - as they do possess active hands, if nothing else. It should be no surprise if Armstead puts together another near-flawless performance, yielding very little pressure off the edge while opening up running lanes for the ground game.
John Owning is a football writer at theScore. He has written for Bleacher Report and Football Insiders. He was also the lead NFL content editor at FanRag Sports. John provides analysis on the Dallas Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News and edits for The Quant Edge. Find him on Twitter @JohnOwning.