Welcome to the Week 16 edition of Snaps, Pace, & Stats, where we examine trends in snap totals and no-huddle usage. It is meant to be a 30,000-foot view of upcoming games, with the goal of identifying which matchups will – and which will not – be played on fertile fantasy soil.
A quick note: Since you don’t want to keep reading “situation-neutral” any more than I want to keep typing it, unless otherwise noted, assume all instances of pass or run rates – of which there are many — refer to neutral game situations (plus or minus seven points) to give a truer sense of a team’s game plan.
Up in pace
|Rank||Week 15 Snaps||2018 Snaps/Game||Opponent Wk 15 Snaps||2018 Opp Snaps/Gm|
|1||Cincinnati (75)||Baltimore (71.6)||Oakland (75)||Cleveland (71.6)|
|2||Baltimore (74)||New England (66.9)||Philadelphia (74)||Kansas City (69.2)|
|3||L.A. Rams (74)||Indianapolis (66.7)||Tampa Bay (74)||Cincinnati (68)|
|4||N.Y. Jets (72)||Tampa Bay (66)||Houston (72)||Arizona (66.9)|
|5||Denver (70)||L.A. Rams (65.9)||Cleveland (70)||N.Y. Jets (65.6)|
It will be played before the main slate, but this is the week’s most intriguing matchup. Since Lamar Jackson took over, Baltimore has transformed from a top-five pass-happy offense piloted by a shaky passer to, by far, the run-heaviest team in the league … piloted by a shaky passer. During the last five weeks, the Ravens hand off on 61.3% of plays. The next-most run-heavy offense (Jacksonville) does it on 56.9%. Baltimore produced the league’s second-most snaps per game during the last month (72), and despite all of the handoffs, their games average the third-most combined plays. Of course, if an opponent can be dominated, the Ravens – who allow the fifth-fewest snaps during the last four weeks – will play bully ball with the best of them. They have overtaken the Saints for the highest average time of possession (32:37).
Philip Rivers is Baltimore’s huckleberry this week, and you can bet your best bolo tie he won’t be bullied. The Chargers are coming off a 29-28 victory in Kansas City, and the larger upset may have been the pace at which Los Angeles finally played. Well-established at the bottom of the seconds-per-snap standings, but quietly toward the top on a situation-neutral basis, the Chargers again got on their pace horse when the game was tight. They ran 67 plays – their third-highest total of the season. The two higher play counts also came in close games, which their contest with the Ravens projects to be. Rivers will likely be busy, as Baltimore’s opponents throw at the fourth-highest rate (61.3%), and even higher during the last five weeks (64.1%). With the Ravens averaging the sixth-most points per game during the last month – the Chargers rank first – Los Angeles should be in for some Saturday night fireworks.