With Week 17 of the 2016 NFL season upon us, Director of Analytics Nathan Jahnke digs through the Pro Football Focus database to bring you 32 unique pieces off PFF data you need to know for the upcoming matchups.
Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets
1. Bills WR Robert Woods has a catch rate of 70 percent on deep passes, which is second-best for wide receivers with five or more targets.
Woods hasn’t been able to break a deep target for a touchdown, and hasn’t had more than 34 yards on a deep target, but he’s still been one of the best of catching the deep targets thrown his way. He had a game to forget the first time around against the Jets, but should have a better performance this time around.
2. Jets rookie RT Brandon Shell hasn’t allowed a pressure yet this season.
Shell has spent most of this season as a backup barely seeing the field, but has started the last two games at right tackle, and in that time he has been perfect in pass protection. This week he will see a lot of Jerry Hughes, who only has five pressures over his last five games, so Shell will have a chance to continue this streak.
New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins
3. Since Week 7, Patriots RT Marcus Cannon has a pass-blocking efficiency of 97.4, which is the best for tackles with at least 300 pass blocks in that time.
Since Week 7, he hasn’t allowed a sack, and has just one hit and 11 hurries allowed. He also hasn’t allowed a single pressure in two of his past four games. The only game this season he’s allowed more than three pressures was Week 2 against Miami. Cannon hopes to have a better outing against Cameron Wake and the rest of the Dolphins this time around.
4. CB Tony Lippett has allowed an NFL passer rating of 5.42 on deep passes, which is second-lowest among cornerbacks.
One reason the Dolphins are playoff-bound is improved play from their secondary, including Lippett. When quarterbacks have attempted deep passes against him, they’ve completed just 1 of 10 passes, and Lippett has two interceptions. Tom Brady has been excellent this year, including when throwing deep, so Lippett will need to remain at his best to continue to prevent big plays.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals
5. Ravens LG Marshal Yanda has a pass-blocking efficiency of 99.1, which is the best for any guard in any season in the PFF era.
Yanda has been an All-Pro guard in the past, and will continue to be an All-Pro guard in the future. Although Yanda misses three games, his season as a pass protector has been remarkable. He hasn’t allowed a sack or hit all season. In seven games he hasn’t allowed a pressure, and in total he’s allowed six hurries on the season. The only thing that could stop him from the pass-blocking efficiency record for guards in a season is Bengals star DT Geno Atkins.
6. Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap has 13 batted passes, which is second-most for a defender in a season in the PFF era.
He is nearly double any other defender this season, and just behind J.J. Watt’s 15 in the 2012 regular season. While Dunlap has a chance to make his batted pass mark more historic, it will be difficult against Joe Flacco. He is one of four quarterbacks with 500 or more attempts and five or fewer batted passes.
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers
7. Since being drafted, Duke Johnson has had 47 players miss tackles on his catches, which is second-best among running backs.
He was drafted in 2015, and is one of just three running backs with 1,000 receiving yards over the last two seasons combined. One of the reasons why he has so many yards is his ability to make players miss. One of the few games this season where he didn’t have a forced miss tackled was against the Steelers, so this time he would like to make up for it.
8. Since Week 11, Le’Veon Bell has had 30 players miss tackles on his carries, which is the most for running backs.
Over the last six weeks he’s been by far the best player running in the NFL. He has more than 200 yards than any other rusher, is averaging over 5 yards per carry, and his rushing numbers aren’t skewed by a few long runs. The Steelers will rest Bell for most if not all of the game, but he is poised to make an impact in the postseason.
Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans
9. Texans CB A.J. Bouye is one of just two cornerbacks with 10 or more pass breakups and two or fewer touchdowns allowed.
While Bouye only has one interception on the season, he’s been one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Along with being in rare company in big plays and avoiding bad ones, he’s allowed just a 53.2 percent catch rate and 10 yards per catch. He had an excellent game his first time around with Tennessee, allowing one catch on six targets and had two passes defended. He will hope for a repeat performance.
10. When Titans rookie safety Kevin Byard lines up within eight yards of the line of scrimmage, he has a run stop percentage of 8.57 percent. That is third-best for safeties with at least 100 run snaps within eight yards.
Byard has played well in a situational role all year, in all aspects of play. One area where he has excelled is making plays when he’s acting as a strong safety. This week, Byard faces a Texans team that has 434 rushing attempts on the year, which is fifth-most for a team, so Byard will have more opportunities to make plays in the run game.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts
11. Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey has a combined 10 interceptions and pass breakups over the past four weeks, the most for cornerbacks.
The next closest over that time span is six. Jalen Ramsey has played like an elite cornerback recently with two interceptions, eight pass breakups and no touchdowns allowed. His task Sunday will be shutting down MVP-caliber QB Andrew Luck and his receivers.
12. When Colts RB Frank Gore has been targeted, Andrew Luck has a passer rating of 124.2, which is the best for a back with 200 or more routes run.
Over Gore’s career he has been a better runner than receiver, but on a per-play basis this has been one of Gore’s best seasons as a receiver. He has a career-high four receiving touchdowns, and only has one drop. He’s had two games with five catches this season, and one of them was against Jacksonville. He could have an impact in the pass game again.
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
13. Over the last four weeks, Anthony Brown has allowed 0.13 yards per coverage snap, which is the best for cornerbacks with at least 100 coverage snaps in that time.
He has been thrown at 13 times, but has allowed just three catches for 17 yards, and has one interception and two pass breakups. Those are excellent numbers for a sixth-round rookie. He barely got to play in the first matchup against the Eagles, and if he clears the concussion protocol, he should see a lot of opportunities to shine.
14. Eagles DT Fletcher Cox has 49 pressures when he lines up on the defenses left side; the second-most for an interior defender.
Cox has spent most of his season lined up on the left side beating up on right guards. He has seven sacks, four hits and 38 hurries when lined up on the left. This week he will see a lot of Zack Martin, who is known more for his run-blocking than pass-blocking, and had his worst game of the season in Week 8 in part thanks to Cox.
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings
15. Bears LB Jerrell Freeman has more made tackles without a missed tackle in coverage than any other linebacker.
This season he’s made 34 solo tackles and two assists in coverage, which is 12 more made tackles than the next-best linebacker with no missed tackles. Freeman has had an excellent season in coverage with 21 stops. His best game of the season was the Bears first matchup against the Vikings, so Freeman should be able to end the season strong.
16. Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes has allowed just as many deep catches as he has deep interceptions, at three each.
Teams have tested Rhodes deep 18 times this season, but for the most part he’s prevented big plays. On top of that, his three deep interceptions is tied for the most among cornerbacks. This week he faces Matt Barkley, who has thrown deep on 15.35 percent of his passes, which is second-most for quarterbacks with at least 150 attempts. This means Rhodes should be tested, but it will be risky of Barkley to do so.
Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
17. Over the last three season, Greg Olsen has 3,164 receiving yards, which is most for tight ends and 10th-most for receivers, regardless of position.
On average, those receivers have dropped 16 passes over that span, and Olsen has only dropped eight. He had by far his best game of the season against Tampa Bay, where he had nine catches for 181 yards, so Olsen could be in store for a big game to pad his three year stats.
18. Over the last five weeks, Buccaneers DE Robert Ayers has a pass-rushing productivity of 16.5, which is second-best for all defenders with 50 or more pass rushes.
In that time he has three sacks, 11 hits and 19 hurries on 155 pass rushes. He will be facing Panthers LT Mike Remmers on most pass plays. Remmers has had some games to forget, but in his first matchup against the Buccaneers, he allowed just one pressure, and he’s allowed four over his past two games.
Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers
19. Chiefs RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has a pass-blocking efficiency of 99.4 these past four weeks, which is the best for right guards.
In his second season with the Chiefs, Duvernay-Tardif has been much improved in pass protection. Over these past four games he hasn’t allowed a sack or hit, and has allowed just one hurry. In two of his three career games against the Chargers, he didn’t allow a pressure, and this week would like to make it three out of four.
20. When Philip Rivers targets Chargers TE Hunter Henry, he has a passer rating of 148.3, which is the best for a tight end with more than 25 targets.
The Chargers rookie tight end Henry had a breakout start of the season. He hasn’t had as many yards recently, but has a touchdown in four of the past five games. While Antonio Gates would like to tie and/or break Tony Gonzalez record for most touchdowns all-time by a tight end, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Henry also have a good game.
Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos
21. Raiders OLB Khalil Mack has 93 QB pressures, which is third-most for any defensive player in a regular season in the PFF era.
With one game to go, Mack can move up to second, passing Tamba Hali’s 97 in 2010 with a strong performance. J.J. Watt’s 113 in 2013 is a little out of reach, but Mack had 10 pressures in his first performance against Denver this season. He should play a big role if the Raiders lock up the AFC West on Sunday.
22. Broncos CB Bradley Roby has allowed a passer rating of 0.0 over the past four weeks.
While Aqib Talib and Chris Harris make up the best cornerback duo in the NFL, Roby can included for the best trio. Over the past four weeks he’s allowed just one of seven passes thrown his way to be caught for 12 yards, has one interception and two pass breakups. In the Raiders three wide receiver sets, Roby will need to defend against Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.
New York Giants @ Washington
23. Giants S Landon Collins has 19 stops in the pass game, which is the most by a safety by four.
Along with being the safety with the most interceptions and one of them with the most passes defended, he’s also been the one to make the most tackles that are successful plays for the defense. This week he faces Kirk Cousins, who has been one the hottest quarterbacks over the past two months.
24. Over the last eight weeks, Washington has two of the top five wide receivers in yards per route run.
DeSean Jackson is third at 2.57 and Pierre Garcon is fifth at 2.57. Washington has been great not just because of Kirk Cousins, but because of these two wide receivers as well. When these teams played each other in Week 3, the duo combined for 10 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown. They hope to have an even better performance this time around as they push for the playoffs.
New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons
25. When Saints DT Nick Fairley lines up on the right, he has a pass-rushing productivity of 10.1, which is fourth-best for interior defenders.
Fairley has been a bright spot for a Saints defense that underwhelmed this year. He has played more on the left than right, but his performance has been better when on the right and attacking left guards. He will see Falcons LG Andy Levitre when he lines on the right. In their Week 3 matchup, Fairley had two sacks against Levitre, which was Levitre’s only time in the past two seasons allowing two sacks.
26. Over the past four weeks, Falcons LB Deion Jones has a run-stop rate of 12.0 percent, which is second best for linebackers with 70 or more snaps.
As a rookie, Jones has had the starting role nearly all year, and has improved as the season has gone on. Over these past four weeks, he’s made nine run stops on 75 run snaps. This week he faces a Saints team who averaged five yards per carry against the Falcons in Week 3.
Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams
27. Over the last two seasons combined, Cardinals LB Sio Moore has a run stop percentage of 14.4 percent, which is second-best for linebackers with at least 50 run snaps.
Sio Moore started the season in Indianapolis and ended it in Arizona, and in both places he has played well as a run defender. The only reason he’s seen playing time in either city is because their teams were missing a starter, but he should at least get a chance to fight for a starting job in 2017. This week he faces a Rams team where Todd Gurley had his worst rushing performance of 2016 versus the Cardinals. Sio Moore hopes to make it a repeat performance.
28. Rams CB LaMarcus Joyner has 14 coverage stops when lined up in the slot, which is second-most for cornerbacks.
While Joyner has allowed a high 74.6 percent catch rate in the slot, he is frequently able to make a tackle to prevent much yardage. Assuming he is healthy, this week his job will be to stop Larry Fitzgerald. If he misses the game, the Rams will have a much more difficult time containing the Cardinals second best offensive weapon.
Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers
29. Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin had 1,653 yards from the slot over the last two seasons combined, which is the most for slot receivers.
The Seahawks also have a rating of 135.7 when throwing to Baldwin in the slot over that time, which is the best for receivers with 300 or more snaps in the slot. He has arguably been the best slot receiver, and his best game of his career was against the 49ers this year. He caught eight passes for 164 yards and one touchdown. He could have another big game as the Seahawks try to gain a first-round bye.
30. Over the last four weeks, 49ers RT Trenton Brown has a pass-blocking efficiency of 98.0, which is second-best for tackles.
The 2015 seventh-round pick has improved as the season has gone on. He has been decent all season in pass protection, but over these past four games he has only allowed three pressures. The Seahawks are known for having a great pass rush, but they didn’t get much pressure when these teams faced each other in Week 3.
Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions
31. Aaron Rodgers has a passer rating of 152.0 when targeting Jordy Nelson in the slot, the best rating for a receiver.
Nelson has caught 32 of 42 slot passes for 472 yards and six touchdowns when lined up in the slot. With Randall Cobb hurting, Nelson is lining up more in the slot than usual. When in the slot he will typically face Asa Jackson, who has allowed a 135.8 passer rating in the slot.
32. Since Week 8, Lions safety Tavon Wilson has 13 run stops when lined up within eight yards from the line of scrimmage, which is third-most for safeties in that time.
A lot of safeties have played well against the run in 2016, but Wilson has been one of the best the second half of the season. He is coming off of his best performance of the season, where he has four stops when lined up within eight yards of the line of scrimmage. After Ty Montgomery had a breakout performance in Week 15 at running back, he had a down game in Week 16. Wilson’s job will be to make sure Montgomery has a game more like Week 16 than Week 15.