Concerns about the COVID-19-related impact on the Week 5 slate are growing, but we will still (probably) get to see at least 12 games this week. Undeterred, we analyzed the trench matchups of every Week 5 contest by predicting the survival curves for the offensive line and projecting how often a quarterback will be pressured at a given time after the snap.
Going into each game, a machine-learning model incorporates a lot of 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 where they are projected to line up
- 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 predicted that Drew Brees would be generally kept clean from the oncoming Detroit Lions pass rush, and indeed, he was pressured within 2.5 seconds only four times — well below the league average.
However, we also thought that the Minnesota Vikings‘ offensive line would be a problem against the Houston Texans, but this wasn’t the case. The Vikings line held its own for a change, and J.J. Watt continued to struggle in 2020, posting only a single pass-rush win across 25 pass-rushing snaps. When it was all said and done, the Vikings allowed quick pressure at the league average rate, and that was enough to help secure their first win of the season.
Here are our projected mismatches for Week 4.
Favoring the offensive line: New York Giants DL vs. Dallas Cowboys OL