Now that we’re fully into the playoffs, doing the normal 32 Teams, 32 Observations just wasn’t going to make much sense, but–not wanting you to feel cheated–we’ve got something for you.
With just the eight teams still alive, we offer our first ever Eight Teams, 32 Observations piece as we zero-in on those still in the hunt while conducting the weekly data dig.
Below you’ll find four interesting bits for each of this weekend’s participants, adding to the mountain of pre-game talking points and, hopefully, giving you at least one more thing you didn’t know about your favorite playoff team.
New England Patriots
● Aaron Hernandez forced 23 missed tackles this season, by far the most by any tight end in a single season over the last four years. Teammate Rob Gronkwoski’s 13 was tied for the second-best (Witten 2010, Gates 2009).
● Wes Welker has had either the most or second-most receptions from the slot over each of the last four years. Only two players had more total receptions this year than his 91 from the slot (White 100, Johnson 96).
● Defensive end Mark Anderson had a Pass Rushing Productivity rating of 11.8, the highest mark for defensive linemen in the AFC.
● Kicker Stephen Gostkowski left opponents starting on the 19.5-yard-line when he kicked off. That was the second-best mark for kickers in the NFL (Koenen 18.5).
● Ray Rice has logged 2032 receiving yards from 2009-2011. That’s nearly 300 yards more than any other running back.
● Cornerback Lardarius Webb has allowed two catches or fewer in half of his games. He allowed more than two catches more often in 2010 despite playing just half of the teams snaps.
● Defensive linemen Pernell McPhee has a Pass Rushing Productivity of 9.1; best among defensive tackles.
● Wide receiver Lee Evans had a Yards Per Pass Route Run of 0.42, which is the lowest of wide receivers with 150 or more pass routes.
● Left tackle Duane Brown has gone 609 pass plays without allowing a sack.
● Defensive ends Antonio Smith and J.J. Watt finished first and second in terms of pass rush grades for 3-4 defensive ends in the AFC.
● Cornerback Jonathan Joseph allowed over 100 yards just once this season, and that was against the Ravens.
● On four separate occasions this season, Arian Foster ran for at least 6.4 yards per carry, including last week.
● Over the last six games, Demaryius Thomas has caught 29 passes for 652 yards and has forced five missed tackles.
● Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley has a Run Stop Percentage of 11.3%, which is the highest for defensive tackles by a full percent.
● Von Miller is the only 3-4 outside linebacker with at least 300 snaps who doesn’t have a missed tackle.
● Tim Tebow has 8.8 yards per pass attempt when he is not blitzed, but that’s cut in half (to 4.4 yards per) when he is.
Green Bay Packers
● Wide receiver Jordy Nelson has the second-highest catch rate of receivers with at least 70 targets at 73.9% (Colston 76.2%) and the third-best yards per catch at 18.6 (Cruz and Moore, 18.7 each).
● The five players projected to start on the offensive line have played 2557 combined passing downs in 2011, and have allowed just nine sacks in that time.
● Clay Matthews has 67 total pressures this year, which is more than the combined total of the Packers’ six defensive linemen (49).
● Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a PFF pass grade of +67.9 on passes thrown beyond the line of scrimmage, and a rating of -3.3 when throwing behind the line of scrimmage.
San Francisco 49ers
● All 14 players for the 49ers’ defense with at least 250 snaps have a positive run defense rating.
● Aldon Smith led the entire league in Pass Rushing Productivity this year with a 15.4 rating.
● Over the first three games of the season, Frank Gore averaged 2.5 yards per carry. Over the last 13, he has averaged 4.8.
● Punter Andy Lee averaged 50.9 yards per punt, which is the second-most over the past four years.
New Orleans Saints
● Quarterback Drew Brees has a PFF pass grade of +15.3 when blitzed. Only six quarterbacks had a better overall PFF pass grade.
● Over the last five games, Marques Colston is averaging seven catches (7.2) and 107 yards, and he’s scored five touchdowns.
● In the first four games of the season, Roman Harper allowed 204 receiving yards. Over the last 13 games, he has allowed just 180.
● Punter Thomas Morstead averaged 70.1 yards per kickoff, which was the highest for kickoff men in the NFC.
New York Giants
● Wide receiver Victor Cruz had 3.08 Yards Per Route Run which is the highest for any wide receiver in the last three years.
● Offensive linemen David Diehl has allowed pressure on 9.6% of his pass plays as a left guard and left tackle this year.
● Linebackers Michael Boley and Mathias Kiwanuka had Tackling Efficiencies on run plays of 38.0 and 23.0, respectively, which were second- and third-best for 4-3 outside linebackers in the regular season.
● In his first two games of the season, Osi Umenyiora averaged a pressure every five pass plays. In the games he’s played in since, he’s averaged a pressure every 9.25.