Each week, the PFF analysis team will bring you break downs of the most important matchups for each game of the NFL season.
Coverage by: Aaron Resnick
Matchup: Houston Texans offense vs. Cincinnati Bengals defense
- QB Deshaun Watson vs. CB Adam Jones – After being pressed into action in the second half this past Sunday, reports indicate Watson will start for the Texans this Thursday. In his first half of NFL action, Watson’s grade of 33.0 was last among all quarterbacks in Week 1. If Watson is going to target DeAndre Hopkins frequently, he’ll see plenty of Jones who is back from his Week 1 suspension. In 2016, Jones was seventh among corners allowing 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Of Watson’s 23 pass attempts in his debut, ten of them were intended to go to Hopkins. With the Texans having no clear No. 2 receiver option, Jones’ coverage could determine how much success Watson has moving the ball.
- T Kendall Lamm vs EDGE Jordan Willis – In Week 1 on 43 pass protection snaps, Lamm allowed five total quarterback pressures giving him a pass-blocking efficiency of 90.1 that ranked 53rd among qualifying tackles. In his NFL debut Willis only played 26 snaps but on a short week and with Michael Johnson leaving this past game with a concussion, Willis seems likely to draw the Week 2 start. While Willis didn’t record a quarterback pressure in Week 1, his eight total quarterback pressures on 63 pass-rushing snaps and his pass-rushing grade of 79.2 this preseason shows he is capable of getting it done. While Lamm fared well in run blocking this past Sunday, the Texans need him to improve against the pass to keep their rookie signal caller upright as Duane Brown continues his holdout.
- T Breno Giacomini vs EDGE Carlos Dunlap – Giacomini had a very difficult matchup with Calais Campbell this past Sunday, and it doesn’t get any easier with Dunlap. Allowing a whopping 13 total pressures on 48 pass protections snaps, Giacomini’s pass-blocking efficiency of 78.6 ranked second to last among all tackles in Week 1. Dunlap, who has had an overall PFF grade above 80 in five of the past six seasons, recorded two pressures on 17 pass rushing snaps and finished with an overall grade of 77.6 in Week 1. Like Campbell, Dunlap can be very productive defending the run as well, so this matchup could set the tone for the game as a whole.
Coverage by: Lorin Cox
Matchup: Cincinnati Bengals offense vs. Houston Texans defense
- OTs Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher vs. DL J.J. Watt – The Bengals need to keep tabs on Watt at all times as the Texans move him around their defensive line. In Week 1, he lined up 52 percent of the time over an offensive tackle, 36 percent on the edge and 12 percent over guards. In this game, Ogbuehi and Fisher should see plenty of him. Last week, Ogbuehi gave up two sacks and four hurries in pass protection, while Fisher gave up two hurries but was flagged twice for holding and was beaten a handful of other times that didn’t yield pressure.
- WR A.J. Green vs. CB Kevin Johnson – It was no surprise Green was the Bengals’ highest-graded offensive player last week at 80.1 overall, but he had a relatively light game by his standards. He was targeted nine times against six different defenders in coverage, and his five catches came against four different players. He might have a favorable matchup this week against Johnson, who was the Texans’ lowest-graded defensive player last week at 36.9 overall. He was targeted four times and allowed three catches for 46 yards while also missing a tackle and being flagged once for defensive pass interference.
- RB Giovani Bernard vs. LB Benardrick McKinney – Bernard was the Bengals’ most used and most productive running back last week, leading his backfield in rushing, receiving and yards after contact per rush (2.40). He was only targeted twice and dropped one of them, but the one he did catch went 44 yards after the catch. He’ll have the opportunity to make more plays this week matched up against McKinney, who had a league-high four missed tackles last week. The Texans linebacker was targeted three times on 13 coverage snaps, allowing two catches for 24 yards and missing tackles on both of them.