News & Analysis

NFL Divisional Round observations

Jan 14, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) catches a touchdown pass against Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye (21) during the second quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field. Jacksonville won 45-42. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PFF Analyst Mark Chichester brings you observations from the Divisional Round of the 2017 NFL Playoffs. With a keen eye, he dissects the second round of the playoffs to highlight eight of the most interesting pieces of information, one for each team that participated.

If you would like to make some observations of your own, you can do so with PFF Elite, where you can find several signature statistics for every offensive and defensive position in football.

AFC

Jacksonville Jaguars: During his team’s Divisional Round victory over the Steelers, linebacker Myles Jack was targeted 10 times in coverage, surrendering six receptions for just 63 yards. Throughout the game, he allowed a passer rating of just 38.8, the best mark ever recorded by a linebacker with at least 10 targets in a playoff game in the PFF era (2006 – present).

Pittsburgh Steelers: Wide receiver Antonio Brown excelled as a deep threat against Jacksonville, catching all three of his deep targets (targets of 20 or more yards downfield) for two touchdowns and 93 deep receiving yards, the fourth-most ever recorded by a receiver in a Divisional Round game. What’s more impressive is that he did most of his deep ball damage against cornerback A.J. Bouye, who up until that game had allowed just two deep completions all season. While in Bouye’s coverage, Brown caught both of his deep targets for 66 yards and two scores, generating a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Prior to the contest, Bouye allowed a passer rating of just 2.5 on throws of 20 or more yards downfield, the best mark among cornerbacks with at least 15 targets. After this contest, that figure rose to 37.0, which drops him to sixth among the same group.

Tennessee Titans: Over the last two playoff games, starting left guard Quinton Spain played a total of 85 pass-blocking snaps and didn’t allow a single pressure in either game. Over the last 12 postseasons, 42 offensive guards have logged perfect games in pass protection (min. 35 pass-blocking snaps), while only 15 guards have logged two perfect games in one postseason. Spain now belongs to a select group of just five guards who remained perfect in pass-protection in two consecutive playoff contests.

New England Patriots: In his team’s victory over the Titans, star tight end Rob Gronkowski put on yet another impressive postseason performance, catching all six of his catchable targets for 81 receiving yards. Five of those targets came when he lined up against man coverage, and he caught all five of those passes for 68 of his yards and a touchdown, generating a perfect passer rating of 158.3 on those plays. Since Week 1, Gronkowski has put up 582 receiving yards, scored five touchdowns and caught 67.4 percent of the passes thrown his way against man coverage, all of which are tops among tight ends.

NFC

Atlanta Falcons: During his team’s Divisional Round clash against the Eagles, wide receiver Julio Jones caught 9-of-11 catchable targets for 101 receiving yards. Jones, who has put together a string of masterful playoff performances over recent years, now averages a whopping 3.02 yards per route run in the postseason, the best mark among all receivers with at least 25 postseason targets over the last 12 seasons.

Philadelphia Eagles: Interior defensive lineman Fletcher Cox was a force against the run last weekend, accumulating five run stops on just 17 run-defense snaps, culminating in a run-stop percentage of 29.4 percent, the best mark among all interior lineman in the Divisional Round. Since 2006, only 10 defensive tackles have tallied five or more run stops in a single playoff game; Cox is now one of them.

New Orleans Saints: Edge defender Cameron Jordan provided a productive pass-rushing performance in his team’s Divisional Round game, as he produced eight total pressures (one hit and seven hurries) on his 38 pass-rushing snaps. This is tied with Ray Edwards (2009) for the most pressures ever recorded by a 4-3 defensive end in a Divisional Round game within the PFF era.

Minnesota Vikings: During the team’s sensational win against the Saints, Vikings quarterback Case Keenum threw 11 passes that were deemed to be ‘contested’ and his receivers combined to catch five of them. Throughout the 2017 season, Keenum posted a completion percentage of 52.5 percent on his contested passes, tops among signal-callers with at least 50 attempts, while his passer rating of 95.1 on such throws ranks second.

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