With Week 11 of the 2016 NFL season upon us, Director of Analytics Nathan Jahnke digs through the Pro Football Focus database to bring you 30 unique pieces off PFF data you need to know for the upcoming matchups.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
1. Saints DE Cameron Jordan has recorded 43 pressures, tied for second-most among 4-3 defensive ends.
Cameron Jordan has played more than 5,000 snaps over six years with the Saints, and he put up his best performance of his career last week against Denver. Jordan had one sack, two hits, seven hurries, and an additional seven stops. This week he faces the Panthers for the second time this season. The first time around he recorded his second-best performance of the season, with four hits and four hurries. The Panthers' offensive line will likely be unchanged from that Week 6 matchup, so Jordan should be ready to impress the nation on Thursday night.
2. Over the last three weeks, Carolina's Kawann Short has recorded the second-best run-stop percentage among NFL DTs.
Over that same timespan, Kawann Short has 12 QB pressures, which is fourth-most among defensive tackles. Short had an excellent 2015 season, so in comparison, his first seven weeks of the 2016 season were disappointing. After the Panthers' bye week, Short has been a man on a mission, making plays in both the run game and pass game. Even though New Orleans is a division rival, none of Short’s top 15 games of his career have come against the Saints. If Short plays as well as he did the last three weeks, that will no longer be the case.
Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
3. Cardinals OLB Chandler Jones has 35 QB pressures this season when lined up on the defense's right side, second-most for any edge defender.
Chandler Jones has been a welcome addition to the Cardinals' defense this year, constantly getting pressure on the quarterback. He had two sacks and three hurries last week in a strong outing; this week he faces the Vikings, who lost their first left tackle, Matt Kalil, to injury, moved their second left tackle. T.J. Clemmings, to right tackle, and now lost their third left tackle, Jake Long, for the season. Whoever the Vikings use at left tackle in this matchup will have a tough time stopping Chandler Jones.
4. Vikings S Harrison Smith has recorded the third-best run stop percentage among NFL safeties.
Cardinals S Tony Jefferson may own the position's best run-stop percentage, but it will be more important for Harrison Smith to have a big day facing RB David Johnson. Johnson has forced 33 missed tackles this season, second-most among running backs; Smith’s biggest problem in the run game has been missed tackles. If Smith can get more stops and fewer missed tackles, that will help Minnesota contain Johnson.
Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals
5. Bills WR Robert Woods has averaged 2.30 yards per route run when lined up in the slot, fourth-best among wide receivers.
Robert Woods is coming off of his best game of his career; he had 10 catches for 162 yards and forced two missed tackles against the Seahawks in Week 9. Against the Bengals in Cincinnati this week, he will likely line up in the slot against Josh Shaw. When Shaw has been in the slot, he’s allowed an NFL passer rating of 81.0, third-lowest for cornerbacks with at least 150 snaps in the slot. Over the last three weeks, he’s surrendered just 75 yards total. Woods will likely have a tough time getting close to his Week 9 performance versus Shaw.
6. Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth owns a pass-blocking efficiency of 97.8, the best for offensive tackles with at least 300 pass blocks.
The Bengals' left tackle has been one of the league's best pass blockers year after year, and even though he’s played in over 10,000 snaps in his NFL career, he remains one of the best. This season he is averaging just one QB pressure allowed per game, and has yet to allow more than two in a single outing. This week, his job will be to stop OLB Lorenzo Alexander, who is top-five in pass-rushing productivity for 3-4 outside linebackers this season. Alexander has had more than two QB pressures in six of nine games, so it will be more of a difficult matchup than usual for Whitworth.
Chicago Bears at New York Giants
7. Bears DE Akiem Hicks has recorded 14 run stops this season, tied for fifth-most among 3-4 defensive ends.
In his first season with the Bears, Hicks has been one of the best 3-4 defensive ends not just because of how many stops he has made, but also because of how often he’s disrupted the run. This week he goes up against Giants right guard John Jerry, who has done a good job most of the year in pass protection, but hasn’t been as successful run blocking. This should give Hicks a chance to improve on his already strong start.
8. Giants S Landon Collins leads all NFL safeties in interceptions, with four.
One of the most-improved players in their sophomore season this year has been Landon Collins. He’s gone from allowing five touchdowns and one interception to allowing one touchdown and recording four interceptions. This week he faces Bears QB Jay Cutler, who is coming off of the worst game of his career, and has just lost his best receiver (Alshon Jeffery) to suspension. Collins should have an opportunity to make more big plays and build on his impressive second season.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
9. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger owns an NFL passer rating of 110.6 when there is no pressure on him, the sixth-highest mark in the league.
This season, Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t had as successful as in past years. While he’s been a little less accurate without pressure, however, he has avoided turnovers. Roethlisberger has an 18:3 touchdown to interception ratio. Luckily for Pittsburgh, the Browns don’t have any pass-rushers who are game-changers. No defensive player on the team has more than three sacks, nor does anyone have more than 25 QB pressures. Cleveland recently added Jamie Collins, who has a few pressures in each game, but with how much the Steelers use three-WR sets, Collins might be in coverage more. If the Browns can’t get pressure on Roethlisberger, he could have a big game with his new team.
10. Browns LB Chris Kirksey has recorded 29 run stops, the most for inside/middle linebackers.
In his first season as an every-down player, Chris Kirksey has had multiple big games where he’s been very involved with the defense. He is coming off of a game against the Ravens where he had 13 tackles, with six of them being stops. The Browns have six games left this season, and two of those games are against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns will need their star defenders like Kirksey to stop star running back Le’Veon Bell in order to secure their first win of the year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Kansas City Chiefs
11. Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston has recorded an NFL passer rating of 76.4 when under pressure, the eighth-best mark among quarterbacks.
Winston has shown improvement in his sophomore season throwing the ball. While he’s not considered a top-tier quarterback yet, if he continues to play like he has over the last month, it could only be a matter of time. One of the areas Winston has seemed to improve is his performance under pressure. Obviously Winston would prefer to not be under pressure at all in this game, but he faces a Kansas City pass-rush that might not hurt his play as much as it would limit other quarterbacks.
12. Chiefs S Ron Parker has six pass breakups this season, the most among safeties.
This is the third year where Ron Parker has been a starter in the Chiefs' secondary, and so far it’s been his best season. For one thing, he missed 40 tackles the last two seasons; this year he has just missed four. Parker has also been more impressive in the secondary, recording six pass breakups, which already matches his 2015 total. He faces Jameis Winston, who has been a top-10 quarterback since Week 4. Winston has eight deep touchdowns this season, second-most among quarterbacks, so the Chiefs will rely on Parker to help prevent big gains.
Baltimore Ravens at Dallas Cowboys
13. Ravens CB Tavon Young has surrendered 8.8 yards per catch this season, fourth-lowest among cornerbacks who have been thrown at 40 or more times.
The fourth-round rookie has worked his way into the starting lineup, and has been a successful addition to the Ravens' defense. Over the last three games, Young has allowed 16 catches, but for only 100 total receiving yards. This week he faces rookie QB Dak Prescott, who is in the top-10 for completion percentage. It wouldn’t be surprising if Young surrenders a few catches, but if he can keep those passes to short gains, it will help slow the Dallas offense.
14. Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott has recorded 566 yards after contact this season, the most among running backs.
While part of Ezekiel Elliott’s success has been thanks to the offensive line, he has also graded out as the best running back this year due to what he’s been able to do given his situation. This week will be his toughest challenge yet. The Ravens have allowed just 71.3 rushing yards per game which is the lowest in the league, and surrendered just 3.3 yards per rushing attempt, which is also the lowest. If Elliott can find his usual success against Baltimore, that will go a long way in helping his MVP case.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions
15. Jaguars DT Malik Jackson has recorded 29 pressures this season; the most for any Jaguar last year was 34.
If Malik Jackson is able to record one of his better games of the season, he will be able to match or surpass Chris Clemons' season mark of 34 pressures in 2015 with six games remaining. Jackson was a free-agent addition from Denver, and is coming off of his best game of the year, thanks to both his play against the run and pass. This week he will face various linemen on Detroit’s below-average offensive line, so he certainly has a chance of beating last year’s top pressure mark on the team.
16. Lions CB Nevin Lawson has surrendered 0.76 yards per coverage snap this season, tied for fourth-best among cornerbacks with at least 300 coverage snaps.
In 2015, Darius Slay had a breakout season, while rookie Quandre Diggs impressed as a slot CB. Before this season, Nevin Lawson seemed like he would be the weak point, but so far he’s having a very impressive campaign. He has not allowed more than four catches in a single game, and since Week 1, he has yet to surrender more than 33 yards in a single contenst. This week he faces a Jacksonville team featuring QB Blake Bortles, who hasn’t played his best—though the Jaguars' wide receivers are still talented. Lawson will have a good challenge covering Jacksonville's receivers on Sunday.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
17. Titans DE Jurrell Casey has recorded 37 QB pressures, six more than any other NFL 3-4 defensive end.
For the fourth straight year, Casey has been among the best inside pass-rushers in the league. Currently, Casey has the third-highest pass-rush grade for all defensive tackles and 3-4 defensive ends. One of his worst games of the season came in Week 7 against the Colts. However, two of Casey’s three best games in the NFL came against Indianapolis. Casey should have the opportunity to have a big game and make up for his Week 7 performance.
18. Colts QB Andrew Luck has recorded 708 deep-passing yards (throws traveling 20+ yards in air) this season, fourth-most among quarterbacks.
Andrew Luck is having the best year of his professional career. He’s both been more consistent week to week, and has also had some extremely impressive games. One of those games was a few weeks ago in, Tennessee where he averaged 9.1 yards per pass and had three touchdowns. He also completed five of six deep passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. Luck could be in store for another big game, this time playing in Indianapolis.
Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Rams
19. Dolphins DE Andre Branch has recorded a pass-rushing productivity of 14.3 since Week 6, third-best among 4-3 defensive ends in that span.
While Mario Williams was the big-name free-agent addition in Miami, it’s Andre Branch who has found recent success. After four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Branch has joined the Dolphins and is having the best season of his career. Over the last four games, Branch has four sacks, three hits, and 13 hurries. His teammate, Cameron Wake is one of two defensive ends ahead of him. The Dolphins' pass-rush will want to get a lot of pressure against Rams rookie QB Jared Goff in his first NFL action.
20. Rams LB Alec Ogletree has a run-stop percentage of 12.8, fifth-best for inside/middle linebackers.
In Alec Ogletree’s first year at middle linebacker, he’s been hit and miss. On one hand, he’s been doing a great job at making big plays to stop the run. On the other, he has already missed 15 tackles. This week he faces Jay Ajayi, who has forced 27 missed tackles this season, fourth-most among running backs. Ogletree will need to cut down on the missed tackles in order to slow Ajayi.
New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers
21. Over the last three weeks, Rob Ninkovich, Trey Flowers, and Chris Long have all been among the top three 4-3 defensive ends in pass-rushing productivity.
The Patriots' defense hasn’t been as dominant as some might expect, but at least in recent weeks, their edge rush has been playing better. Ninkovich has 10 pressures over 44 pass-rushes, Flowers has four sacks, and Long has nine pressures over these last two games. This week, they face the 49ers, who have left tackle Joe Staley. Staley has continued to do well as a run blocker, but is having his worst pass-blocking season of his career. Right tackle Trenton Brown has only allowed three combined sacks and hits, but is consistently allowing a few pressures each game. The Patriots' edge rushers should continue to shine.
22. 49ers CB Tramaine Brock has allowed a 49.1 percent catch rate this season, the lowest mark among cornerbacks who have been thrown at 40 or more times.
Several things have changed with the 49ers' defense in recent years, but one thing that has remained constant is Tramaine Brock. He’s been great at making good plays for the defense, but at times, allows big gains, as well. He’s been great at preventing catches recently, though, with seven pass breakups in his last five games. He will need to make sure Tom Brady can’t find success throwing to his outside receivers, like Chris Hogan, so the rest of the San Francisco defense can focus on the Patriots' inside weapons.
Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks
23. Eagles LT Jason Peters owns a pass-blocking efficiency of 97.4, tied for sixth-best among left tackles.
Over the past decade, Jason Peters has been one of the best left tackles in the NFL. While he is nearing the end of his career and had a slow start to the season, he has played well ever since Philadelphia’s Week 4 bye week. Looking just at his last four games, Peters has only allowed two total QB pressures. This week he will see a lot of Frank Clark who has one sack in each of his last four games. It will be difficult for Peters to play as well as he has been against Clark.
24. Seahawks C Justin Britt is one of six centers to not allow a sack or hit yet this season.
While the Seahawks' offensive line has gained a poor reputation, Britt’s move to center can be deemed a success. He’s having his best career season in both run blocking and pass protection. However, this week he will face one of his biggest challenges in the form of Eagles DT Bennie Logan. While Logan missed a few games with an injury, he returned in Week 10. He’s had a sack or hit in three of his last four games. If Britt allows a sack or hit this season, it could very well come this week.
Green Bay Packers at Washington
25. Packers OLB Nick Perry has recorded 12.6 a run-stop percentage, best among 3-4 outside linebackers this season.
Nick Perry has recorded 18 stops in the run game, the most among 3-4 outside linebackers. This season, Perry has improved his play against the run and the pass, and this week, he should set a new career high in total snaps played in a season. He faces a Washington offense that will likely be run-oriented; they are without their best pass-blocking offensive linemen, Trent Williams, and they’ve given their new starting running back, Rob Kelley, over 20 carries in each of the last two games. Perry could have a big role in attempting to slow Kelley.
26. Washington TE Vernon Davis has forced nine missed tackles on receptions this season, tied for the most among tight ends.
Teammate Jordan Reed has the third-most, with eight. After a poor 2014 in San Francisco, that led Davis to being traded to Denver in 2015; after getting benched by the Broncos, it seemed like Davis’ career was over. He’s had a resurgence in Washington as the No. 2 TE end behind Reed. The Packers just allowed nine catches for 124 yards and one touchdown to Titans tight end Delanie Walker. Both Reed and Davis could be in for big games against Green Bay.
Houston Texans at Oakland Raiders
27. Texans LB Benardrick McKinney has recorded 12 pressures this season, tied for third-most among inside/middle linebackers
In Benardrick McKinney’s second season with Houston, and first one as an every-down player, he has been solid in all aspects of play. In recent weeks, the Texans have had McKinney rush the passer anywhere from eight to 11 times per game, which has led to his 12 QB pressures. Derek Carr is a quarterback who isn’t as accurate when blitzed, so the Texans' blitz packages, including rushing McKinney, might be one of their keys to success.
28. Raiders CB David Amerson has recorded 10 pass breakups, tied for the most among cornerbacks.
Since David Amerson's arrival in Oakland, he has been among the top cornerbacks in the NFL. Over one in every six passes thrown Amerson’s way has been broken up by the Raiders' cornerback. On Monday night, he faces a Houston team with good receivers like DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins had graded well this season, but is coming off of three straight games with fewer than 50 receiving yards and no touchdowns. Amerson will attempt to make sure that streak continues for a fourth game.
More stats to know
29. Colts K Adam Vinatieri is the only kicker to make five field goals from 50+ yards this season.
Vinatieri is one of only two kickers to remain perfect on field goals. This includes being perfect on field goals beyond 50 yards. This is especially impressive because between 2007 and 2011, he only made five of eight field goals beyond 50 yards in a five-year span.
30. The Rams have averaged 44.7 net yards on Johnny Hekker’s punts, the most for any punter in the NFL.
In each of the last four years, Hekker has been among the top-six graded punters in the NFL. If he keeps this up the rest of the season, it will be the highest average for any punter in the PFF era (2006–2016 seasons).