It's no huge surprise, but some of the NFL's best quarterback-wide receiver duos are still alive in the playoffs.
The QB-WR combinations of Patrick Mahomes/Travis Kelce, Josh Allen/Stefon Diggs and Aaron Rodgers/Davante Adams earned 90-plus PFF grades in 2020 (both for the quarterback and receiver). Kelce (25%), Diggs (27%) and Adams (31%) were the most targeted receivers in their respective offenses, and each contributed tremendously to both their quarterback's success and to their offense as a whole.
Still, looking at overall grades and target share isn’t enough to clearly define the league’s best quarterback-receiver duo. So I've looked a little deeper to break down each pair's numbers in the most crucial of game situations, in addition to their overall usage.
These situations include third/fourth down, red zone, under pressure, deep targets, man coverage and fourth quarter. I’ll primarily use PFF grades to rate efficiency but will also call upon EPA/play (expected points added), success rate and passer rating when appropriate. And who knows? Maybe a Tom Brady/Buccaneers pass-catcher duo will land atop certain categories.
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Travis Kelce’s 93.3 PFF receiving grade ranks No. 1 among all players in 2020, and his yards per target (10.3) on attempts from Mahomes bested both Stefon Diggs (9.7) and Davante Adams (9.2). This resulted in Kelce generating a 64.4% successful play rate on his targets, which was superior to any of the aforementioned wide receivers.
Mahomes’ PFF passing grade (90.1) when targeting Kelce trailed both Rodgers (94.7) and Allen (94.0) when targeting their respective WRs. It also fell below Tom Brady when he targeted either Mike Evans (94.9) or Chris Godwin (93.0) and when Mahomes targeted Tyreek Hill (93.0).
The Mahomes-Hill connection likely got the edge due to Hill hauling in 18 big-time throws — the most among players left in the playoffs.