Week 17 of the 2020 NFL season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate the end of the regular season than by analyzing each contest's trench matchups by predicting the survival curves for the offensive line and projecting how often each quarterback will be pressured at a given time after the snap.
Going into each game, a machine-learning model incorporates several features in order to come up with a prediction:
- The survival curve of the offensive line in previous games (or from last year)
- The survival curve of the defensive line in previous games (or from last year)
- The PFF pass-blocking grades of the five offensive linemen
- The PFF pass-rush grades of the pass-rushers and the positions they are projected to line up in
- How the blend of individual grades and team-level survival curves from the past are weighted toward predicting the cervical curve depends on continuity and how far in the past the information lies. Less continuity means the individual grades are weighted more heavily.
- Schematic factors such as how often the defense is projected to blitz and how often the offense is projected to use play action, designed rollouts or six-plus-man protections.
[Editor's Note: PFF's advanced statistics and player grades are powered by AWS machine learning capabilities.]
Each week, we will use our projections to highlight the biggest mismatches in the trenches. We will also identify an interesting matchup to watch.
Last week, we expected the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ offensive line to dominate against the Detroit Lions. We turned out to be right, as Tom Brady had all day to throw and destroyed the Lions secondary in just two quarters of action.
On the other side of the spectrum, we had an inkling that Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson would have a tough day behind his offensive line against the Los Angeles Rams. We weren’t necessarily wrong, as Wilson was pressured within 2.5 seconds on 25% of his snaps, leading to an unimpressive offensive output for the Seahawks, even though they still won the game.
Here are our mismatches for Week 17. Note that we focused on games that matter toward playoff seeding.
Favoring the offensive line: Green Bay Packers OL vs. Chicago Bears DL