The Cincinnati Bengals visit the Minnesota Vikings in Week 15 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.
PFFELO Ranking: 23
Coverage by: Lorin Cox
Matchup: Cincinnati Bengals offense vs. Minnesota Vikings defense
- QB Andy Dalton play action vs. Vikings coverage – Dalton has found a lot of success running play action this season. He’s faked the handoff on 27.0 percent of his drop backs this season, the fourth-most of any quarterback. When working off of play action, he has completed 67.0 percent of his passes, as opposed to 58.1 percent without it. No quarterback has seen a higher increase in completion percentage off of play action than Dalton. Seven of his touchdowns and only two of his interceptions have come off of play action, giving him a 108.1 passer rating. On plays without the fake, he has just an 83.3 passer rating.
- RB Giovani Bernard vs. LB Eric Kendricks – Bernard only has 58 carries this season, but he’s averaging 3.02 yards after contact per attempt, which would rank 11th in the NFL if he had enough runs to qualify. He’s also forced 11 missed tackles on the ground, breaking tackles at a faster rate (every 5.27 carries) than the likes of Le’Veon Bell (7.86) and Leonard Fournette (6.79). Kendricks has missed 14 tackles this season, twice as many as any other Vikings defender and the fifth-most among inside linebackers. He’s having the lowest-graded season of his career at 45.4 overall, which ranks 61st at his position.
- T Andre Smith vs. Edge Danielle Hunter – Smith is the 58th-highest graded offensive tackle this season at 50.0, but his 76.0 run-blocking grade ranks 29th. He’s allowed one sack, three hits and 23 hurries on 285 pass-blocking snaps, giving him a pass-blocking efficiency rating of 92.8 that ranks 64th, one spot ahead of teammate Cedric Ogbuehi. Across from him will be Hunter, who rushes from the left side of the defense on 72.0 percent of his pass-rushes. He’s generated seven sacks, four hits and 33 hurries on 394 pass-rushing snaps, giving him a pass-rushing productivity rating of 8.8 that ranks 27th among 4-3 defensive ends.
Coverage by: Elliott Rooney
Matchup: Minnesota Vikings offense vs. Cincinnati Bengals defense
- WR Stefon Diggs vs. CB William Jackson – Diggs versus Jackson will be a matchup of two top-20 players at their respective positions. Diggs ranks as the 17th-best receiver this season with an overall grade of 82.4. When targeted this season, Diggs has been lethal, as his wide receiver rating of 113.6 is the 11th best this season. He is also one of the more efficient players this season with 1.88 yards per route run. Jackson has had a breakout season in 2017. The second-year corner didn’t play a single snap last year due to injury but is the 15th-highest graded corner this season with an overall PFF grade of 86.0. Jackson has been a shutdown corner this season, as he ranks inside the top-10 for yards per coverage snap (0.53) and coverage snap per reception (19.1).
- G Nick Easton vs. DI Geno Atkins – Easton has struggled mightily all season, he is currently the 65th-ranked guard with an overall PFF grade of 38.6. Despite this, he has been one of the better guards in terms of pass-blocking efficiency (PBE) this season, Easton is one of six guards not to allow a sack all season, and his 11 total pressures surrendered are the second-fewest among guards. This gives Easton a PBE rating of 97.7 that ranks seventh this season. Atkins has the third-best pass-rush grade of any interior defender this season at 89.2. His pass-rushing productivity rating of 11.9 is the second-best by an interior defender this season, and he has 58 total pressures on 383 pass-rush snaps this season. His trails only Aaron Donald in total pressures by an interior defender.
- T Rashod Hill vs. Edge Carlos Dunlap – Hill had one of his worst games of the season last week against the Panthers. His six total pressures surrendered were the most he has surrendered in a game all season, and his PBE of 91.4 ranked 51st among 66 offensive tackles last week. Dunlap has been one of the best at getting to the quarterback this season. He has the 12th-most pressures of any edge defender with 56, 53 of which have come from the left side of the defense.