Welcome to the Week 9 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.
This will be our heaviest week of byes yet. Six teams are off, most of which are regularly mentioned here – including the Colts, Giants, Bengals, and Eagles. The Cardinals and Jaguars won’t play either, but it’s probably for the best.
Unfortunately, this week is light on matchups pitting snap-generating teams against each other, and there’s more than one surefire slog on tap. Even a seemingly up-pace game like the Chiefs and Browns now has more questions than answers after Gregg Williams received yet another job offer. The Browns also average 10 fewer plays (64.3 versus 74.3) on those rare occasions they don’t go to overtime.
In a sign of the times, there’s no shortage of 50-plus-point projected totals this week. Based on the ‘Under’ hit rate over the last two weeks, some might say it’s a trap. Let’s dive in and see.
Up in pace
|Rank||Week 8 Snaps||2018 Snaps/Game||Opponent Wk 8 Snaps||2018 Opp Snaps/Gm|
|1||Tampa Bay (83)||Baltimore (72.9)||Cincinnati (83)||Cleveland (74)|
|2||L.A. Rams (75)||Cleveland (70.3)||Green Bay (75)||Cincinnati (71.3)|
|3||New England (72)||Indianapolis (69.3)||Buffalo (72)||Arizona (69.1)|
|4||Indianapolis (71)||Tampa Bay (69)||Oakland (71)||Kansas City (68.9)|
|5||Denver (69)||Philadelphia (67.8)||Kansas City (69)||N.Y. Jets (67.6)|
The Buccaneers offense has its magic back, and although they played faster with Jameis Winston at the helm, they’ve been more effective when Ryan Fitzpatrick takes snaps. Either way, Tampa Bay’s pass-first attack and cruel joke of a coverage unit combine to create a scoring-rich environment. Their defense allows league-worst rates of 0.52 points per snap and 33.3 points per game. Their contests average the sixth-most combined snaps, and the Buccaneers run the fourth-most plays per game. They operate at the fifth-quickest seconds-per-snap pace and throw at the seventh-highest “situation-neutral” rate (game is within one score). Passing so heavily is more due to necessity than design, as Tampa Bay can’t run the ball. They rank bottom-five in both rushing yards per carry and per game and haven’t had a decent runner since four years ago when Doug Martin was alive.
The Panthers likely won’t push the Buccaneers toward more handoffs. Carolina sees the sixth-lowest run rate while games are close (38%), and only two teams have faced fewer rushing attempts. There is concern the Panthers will slow the game down, as they operate at a middling seconds-per-snap rate (19th quickest) and run at the league’s eighth-highest situation-neutral rate (46.4%). However, during the last three games, their run/pass profile has shifted. After five weeks, Carolina ranked 30th in pass rate when games were close (49.8%). Since then they’ve thrown on 64.7% of plays, which would rank fourth highest on the season. Not coincidentally, Greg Olsen returned from his foot injury three weeks ago. With the integration of D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel – both of whom saw season-high snap rates on Sunday – the Panthers are increasingly explosive and more apt to infuse their games with passing and play volume. They’re facing the perfect opponent for it.