The New York Giants visit the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.
PFFELO Ranking: 30
Coverage by: Aaron Jones
Matchup: New York Giants offense vs. Arizona Cardinals defense
- TE Evan Engram vs. S Budda Baker – Through Week 15 Engram has run 487 snaps in route, the most among tight ends. The rookie is currently grading 71st among 74 tight ends this season with an overall grade of 41.3. He was targeted 12 times last week (most among tight ends), but unfortunately added another drop on the season. Engram has now dropped 11 of his 74 catchable targets, for a drop rate of 14.86. His 11 drops are the most in the league (among any position), and four more than the next tight end. Combine that with a run-block grade of 34.6 that ranks 74th among 76 tight ends, and you can see why Engram’s overall grade has suffered. The talent has flashed, it just hasn’t come at a consistent rate. He’ll get to face off against another rookie this season in Baker, who is tied for 16th among 87 safeties with an overall grade of 84.3. He’s been targeted 28 times this season, allowing 19 receptions for 222 yards and two touchdowns.
- T Ereck Flowers vs. Dl Chandler Jones – Flowers is currently tied for 34th among 81 qualifying tackles with a pass-blocking efficiency of 95.1. Many of Flowers’ troubles this season have stemmed from the run game, where he currently ranks 65th among 80 qualifying tackles with a run-block grade of 40.9. He draws a tough matchup against Jones, who ranks 19th among 115 qualifying edge defenders with an overall grade of 84.7.
- WR Sterling Shepard vs. CB Tyrann Mathieu – Shepard is the highest-graded wide receiver on the Giants, and it isn’t necessarily close. His receiving grade of 78.6 ranks 33rd among 117 qualifying wide receivers. The next closest Giants’ wide receiver Tavarres King, whose receiving grade is 60.8, ranks 74th. Shepard should see Mathieu in the slot, whose coverage grade of 76.0 ranks 58th among 120 qualifying cornerbacks. He is currently allowing a quarterback rating of 89.4 when targeted.
PFFELO Ranking: 25
Coverage by: Mark Chichester
Matchup: Arizona Cardinals offense vs. New York Giants defense
- RB Kerwynn Williams vs. DI Damon Harrison – With Adrian Peterson on injured reserve, backup Kerwynn Williams has performed well, rushing for 231 yards on 53 attempts since becoming the starter in Week 13, the 12th most yards among running backs in that time frame. On those carries, he has averaged a healthy 2.45 yards after contact per attempt and forced nine missed tackles, which are the 27th and ninth-best marks among running backs in that span, respectively. However, Williams’ ability to rush past the point of first contact is what has turned heads this season. This year, he has rushed past the point of first contact on 89.9 percent of his carries, which is the best rate among all active running backs with at least 75 carries. Come Sunday, the Cardinals will hope for more of the same as he goes head-to-head with Damon Harrison, who, as usual, has been near unstoppable when defending the run this season. Through 15 weeks, Harrison leads all interior defenders with a 94.2 run-defense grade and is tied for first among players at the position with 33 run stops, so Williams will have to be at his very best.
- QB Drew Stanton vs. Accuracy – On Monday, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians announced that Drew Stanton would return to the starting lineup for the final two games of the campaign. Heading into Week 16, one major aspect that Stanton should be looking to improve upon is his ball placement. In two games as starter, Stanton logged 91 pass attempts and managed an adjusted completion percentage of just 61.9 percent, which ranked dead last among quarterbacks with at least 80 attempts from Week 7 to Week 10.
- TE Ricky Seals-Jones vs. S Landon Collins – Since Week 11, the rookie tight end has been the team’s second-most targeted player, with 25 passes coming his way. He’s also been mightily productive on those targets and has racked up 12 catches for 201 yards and three touchdowns at an average of 3.94 yards per route run, the highest-mark among tight ends in that span. He’ll be hoping to continue his hot streak, but he’ll be in for a tough game against safety Landon Collins. Through 15 weeks, Collins’ coverage grade of 85.3 ranks 18th among 87 qualifying safeties, and he’s allowed a passer rating of just 86.4 when covering tight ends this season, the fifth-best mark among safeties.