News & Analysis

NFL Playoffs: Wild Card observations

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Jan 7, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) runs after catching a pass for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints during the fourth quarter in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

PFF Analyst Mark Chichester went through and observed the first round of the 2017 NFL Playoffs with a keen eye, dissecting the wild-card round 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

Buffalo Bills: In a game that was dominated by defense, Bills outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander produced seven total stops, which was a career high for a single game. That figure tied him with Von Miller (2012 divisional round) for the second-most stops ever recorded by an edge defender in a playoff game within the PFF era (2006-present).

Jacksonville Jaguars: After an underwhelming end to the regular season, quarterback Blake Bortles went 12-of-23 attempts for just 87 passing yards in his team’s victory over the Bills. Since 2006, only four starting quarterbacks have thrown for under 100 yards in a single playoff game – Bortles is now one of them.

Tennessee Titans: In his team’s upset victory over the Chiefs, 18 of running back Derrick Henry’s 25 carries (78.3 percent) were run to the left side of the offensive line. This was the sixth-most side-heavy performance among running backs with at least 20 carries in a game this season. Through 17 total games, Henry has now logged 98 runs to the left. On those runs, he’s averaged 5.7 yards per carry and 3.87 yards after contact per carry, which rank first and second among runners with at least 25 carries to the left side of the line this year, respectively.

Kansas City Chiefs: Cornerback Marcus Peters was targeted seven times in coverage during his team’s playoff loss to the Titans, and he allowed just four receptions, logged an interception and surrendered a passer rating of 29.2, the eighth-lowest passer rating allowed in a wild-card game over the last 12 years. Since he entered the league in 2015, Peters now has tallied 21 interceptions, which is nine more than the next closest cornerback in that span.

NFC

Atlanta Falcons: Cornerback Robert Alford was targeted three times on deep passes (passes of 20-plus yards downfield) against the Rams, which was more than any other player on wild-card weekend. He did not allow a reception and only a passer rating of 39.6 on those targets, while adding a pass breakup against receiver Sammy Watkins. Alford has now got his hands on 20.0 percent of the deep targets sent his way this year, which is the 16th-best mark among 33 cornerbacks with at least 15 deep targets. Additionally, an impressive 50.0 percent of his deep targets this year have been positively graded, the eighth-best mark among the same group.

Carolina Panthers: Rookie running back Christian McCaffrey was targeted six times during his team’s wild-card defeat to the Saints, and he proceeded to rack up a staggering 101 receiving yards, 57 more receiving yards than the next closest back this week. All told, McCaffrey averaged a whopping 3.06 yards per route run, which was the 11th-best mark that PFF has ever recorded by a running back in a single playoff game. He joins James White (110 yards – 2016 Super Bowl), Darren Sproles (119 yards – 2011 divisional round) and Reggie Bush (120 yards – 2006 conference championship) as one of only four running backs to top 100 receiving yards in a single playoff game over the past 12 seasons.

New Orleans Saints: During the Saints’ win over the Panthers, wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. caught an 80-yard touchdown pass, a career-long in any of his 11 postseason games. In those playoff games, Ginn Jr. has averaged 1.99 yards per route run, which now ranks 22nd among the 65 receivers with at least 25 targets in the postseason during the PFF era.

Los Angeles Rams: Coming off an absurdly productive regular season where he tallied a whopping 91 total quarterback pressures, interior defender Aaron Donald proceeded to carve up the Falcons’ offensive line almost at will. Donald ended his first ever postseason appearance with 11 total pressures (one sack, 10 hurries), which is the second-most ever recorded by an interior lineman in a postseason game within the PFF era. On average, he took 1.99 seconds to produce pressure, which was the best mark of his spectacular season.

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