Welcome to the Week 2 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.
Opening weekend was a breath of fresh air from a play-volume and scoring standpoint. Week 1 had 765 points; only one week had more scoring last year. Week 1 had 2,076 plays. That wasn’t matched even once last year.
We can chalk up the increase in offense to many things — from face-meltingly contrived helmet contact and body-weight-on-quarterback rules, to a spike in no-huddle usage, to the healthy return of prolific passers, or to good old-fashioned FitzMagic.
Whatever the reasons, it was a welcome development in an entertaining opener. And now, we’re on to Week 2.
Up in pace
|Rank||Week 1 Snaps||2017 Snaps/Game||Opponent Wk 1 Snaps||2017 Opp Snaps/Gm|
|1||Cleveland (85)||Jacksonville (67.4)||Pittsburgh (85)||Cincinnati (68.2)|
|2||Pittsburgh (80)||Denver (67.2)||Cleveland (80)||Buffalo (66.6)|
|3||Indianapolis (77)||Philadelphia (67.1)||Cincinnati (77)||San Francisco (66.6)|
|4||Washington (75)||New England (66.9)||Arizona (75)||N.Y. Giants (65.8)|
|5||BAL / LAC (74)||Arizona (66.2)||BUF / KC (74)||N.Y. Jets (65.8)|
The Chiefs have not been an up-tempo offense. Quite the opposite. The departure of Alex Smith and Matt Nagy did not appear to change this fact, as Kansas City tied for the third-fewest Week 1 plays (55) and had the third-highest situation-neutral run rate (53 percent). Yet it’s worth noting they operated at an elevated seconds-per-snap pace (27.9; 14th-quickest) relative to their historically slothy ways. Of course, with new quarterback Patrick Mahomes and an arsenal of explosive weaponry, the Chiefs don’t need play volume to make noise. They posted 0.69 points per snap in Week 1 (third-highest) on the heels of their 0.42 mark from last season (fifth-highest). In a high-octane matchup with the Steelers, whose run defense held its own last week, the Chiefs could be pulled into a back-and-forth affair that produces more snaps than normal. And if not, Kansas City can light up the scoreboard anyway.
The Steelers are a more voluminous offense at home than on the road. Last year, their 69.9 plays per game in Pittsburgh would have led the league for the full season. On the road, they averaged only 61.5 snaps. The disparity had at least something to do with their 24.5 percent no-huddle rate at home, versus only 7.9 percent on the road. Last week they barely dusted off the hurry-up, but did have a hefty 63 percent situation-neutral pass rate (sixth-highest), matching their profile from last season (60 percent; seventh-highest). Kansas City may have pulled off a “road” upset of the Chargers, but their pass coverage already grades dead last. Hopefully blessed with better weather conditions, Ben Roethlisberger and company should put points on the board in a hurry – drawing the Chiefs into a fantasy fireworks show.