One thing that most people have noticed this year in the NFL, is that the passing game has become more prevalent, while the rushing game has diminished a bit. With that said, it has only been 3 weeks. One important factor in most passing games is the weather. As it gets colder out, the rushing game becomes exponentially more important, and may decide who is built for the playoffs and who isn't. Here are 6 teams that I sincerely believe will have a hard time later in the season due to a lack of a rushing tandem:
1) Cleveland Browns. Though they may have more to worry about than their rushing game, come December, who are they going to turn to? Jerome Harrison has to step up because clearly Jamal Lewis is at the end of his career.
2) Kansas City Chiefs. Many people, including myself, thought that Larry Johnson would bounce back this season. He hasn't. Jamaal Charles hasn't gotten many touches yet, but he could be their answer soon if LJ continues to perform the way he has.
3) Arizona Cardinals. Edgerrin James couldn't do it last year, and it doesn't look like Hightower will be either, though he catches more passes from Warner. The Cards, however, were able to survive with this problem, leading them to the Superbowl.
4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Cadillac just can't stay healthy, and their run game was murdered by the Giants defense. It'll help that they're in the South, but cold away games will be very difficult for them.
5) San Diego Chargers. Without LT, they virtually have 0 rushing game. Sproles is great for check-downs, but can't carry the load. If LT comes back at 90% or better, they'll be fine. Otherwise, they better pray they can dump the entire load on Rivers... and maybe they can!
6) Houston Texans. What bothers me most is Slaton and Chris Brown's YPC, both under 3.5. Once again, they benefit from warm weather, but down the stretch they won't have a chance up North.
Others to consider: Oakland and Washington
On the other end of the spectrum, these teams will have what it takes to win in cold weather, and be able to control the games themselves:
1) Denver Broncos. What a great way to take the pressure off of Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton. Knowshon Moreno isn't even at 100% and is making a large impact. Buckhalter has been stellar.
2) Miami Dolphins. If any team can withstand the loss of their QB, it would be Miami and only a few others. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams have amassed 417 rushing yards combined, and will take even more now that Pennington is gone.
3) Baltimore Ravens. Quite possibly the best 3-way rushing tandem so far. With McGahee and Rice averaging over 5 YPC, they'll be a conference favorite in December.
4) New York Giants. Though not as good as last year, the combination of Jacobs and Bradshaw is hard to contain. The Giants are a clock-management team, and will keep the ball away from opposing offenses.
5) Buffalo Bills. Marshawn is back. They'll need Lynch and Jackson to play out of their minds if they want a shot at the playoffs.
6) New York Jets. Both Leon Washington and Thomas Jones are capable of Pro Bowl seasons, so nothing should get in their way. This is exactly what Sanchez needs as a rookie.
Others to consider: New Orleans, Indianapolis, Dallas