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NFL Week 15 Preview: Cardinals at Redskins

By PFF Analysis Team
Dec 14, 2017

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Nov 19, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) makes a catch during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals visit the Washington Redskins in Week 15 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.

PFFELO Ranking: 22

Coverage by: Mark Chichester

Matchup: Arizona Cardinals offense vs. Washington Redskins defense

  • T Will Holden vs. Edge Junior Galette – With veteran left tackle Jared Veldheer headed to injured reserve with an ankle injury, the team will look to fifth-round rookie Holden to sure up the left side of the line. Holden has managed just 106 snaps so far this year, with nearly all of them coming at left guard, but he has plenty of experience playing at left tackle at the college level. In his 15 starts at left tackle for Vanderbilt in 2016, Holden allowed 26 total pressures on 439 pass-blocking snaps en route to a pass-blocking efficiency of 95.2, which ranked 75th of 97 draft-eligible tackles with at least 150 pass-blocking snaps. The team will hope he can step up to the challenge this week against Galette, who has been pushing for more playing time after performing well for the Redskins in a rotational role. Through 14 weeks, Galette has tallied 29 pressures from 181 pass-rush snaps, resulting in a pass-rushing productivity of 12.3, which is good for eighth among qualifying 3-4 outside linebackers.
  • WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. CB Kendall Fuller – This season, Fitzgerald has been the focal point of the Cardinals’ offense. He’s seen 118 targets (64 more targets than the Cardinals’ next-closest wide receiver), and he’s caught 73.7 percent of the passes thrown his way for 922 yards and five touchdowns, all the highest marks among his teammates. With 64.0 percent of his routes coming from the slot, he’s averaging 1.96 yards per route run from the slot, which is fifth-best among qualifying receivers. This week, he’ll be looking to add to that total against Fuller, who has enjoyed a remarkable season thus far, having allowed just 0.74 yards per coverage snap and a passer rating of 51.8 when covering the slot, eighth and six-best among corners, respectively.

Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals

  • RB Elijhaa Penny vs. LB Zach Brown – Penny has logged just 13 snaps in Adrian Peterson’s two-game absence, but it has become clear that he’s serving as the team’s red zone threat with Peterson out. Over the last two games, Penny has accounted for three of their four carries inside the opponents 10-yard line, and he’s found the end zone on one of those carries. Looking to keep him out of the end zone this week will be Brown, who, despite dealing with several injuries over the course of the season, has racked up 31 total run stops (tied for third-most among inside linebackers) and attained a run-defense grade of 87.2, which ranks ninth among linebackers this season.

PFFELO Ranking: 21

Coverage by: Mark Chichester

Matchup: Washington Redskins offense vs. Arizona Cardinals defense

  • T Ty Nsekhe vs. Edge Chandler Jones – Despite playing most of the season with a torn tendon in his knee, starting left tackle Trent Williams has missed just two games all year. Through 14 weeks, he’s the only offensive tackle in the league who has played more than 350 pass-blocking snaps without allowing a sack. While his toughness has been exemplary, the time has come for him to be shut down for the season and swing tackle Ty Nsekhe will be the man to try and take over the blind-side for the remainder of the season. Nsekhe has played well in limited action at tackle and has allowed just two pressures on 44 pass-blocking snaps. As he tries to fill Williams’ massive shoes, he’ll be in for a tough matchup against Chandler Jones, who has produced 61 total pressures this year (sixth-most among all edge defenders) and currently ranks 14th among players at the position with a pass-rush grade of 86.0.
  • WR Josh Doctson vs. CB Tramon Williams – The second-year pass-catcher has finally emerged as a legitimate No. 1 option in Washington and over the last few weeks, he’s been found himself as the team’s go-to deep threat. All told this year, Doctson has seen 16 deep targets (the most among Washington receivers), and he’s caught five of those targets for 156 yards and two touchdowns, all good for a wide receiver rating of 108.3, 17th best among skill
    positions with at least 10 deep targets. He’ll be looking to continue his downfield production, but that’s no easy task against cornerback Tramon Williams. Through 14 weeks, Williams has been targeted 10 times on passes of 20 or more yards, and he’s tallied an interception, two pass breakups and allowed a passer rating of just 24.2, which is the fourth-best mark among corners with at least 10 deep targets in coverage.

Josh Doctson, wide receiver, Washington Redskins

  • TE Vernon Davis vs. S Budda Baker – With Jordan Reed officially placed on injured reserve, Davis will now have to carry the load for an offense that relies heavily on production from the tight end position. Through the first 10 weeks of the season, Davis proved that he was up to the task and averaged 2.45 yards per route run, which is first among tight ends in that span. However, from Weeks 11-14, he’s averaged just 0.91 yards per route run, which ranks 29th among tight ends in that span. As he looks to return to improve on his slump, he’ll see a lot of rookie safety Budda Baker, who has been great in coverage against tight ends this year, allowing just 4.2 yards per reception and a passer rating of 91.1, both the best marks among his teammates.

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