Now that there are eight teams remaining, this week’s 32 Observations has changed its format. While you’ll still be getting your same number of observations, you will get four from each team that’s still standing.
It’s a “what have you done for me lately” league, and most of these observations reflect what the players have done recently, along with a few other pieces of information I found interesting to help prepare you for the divisional round of the playoffs.
New England Patriots
• Over the last four games, running back LeGarrette Blount has 358 yards on 59 carries for a 6.1 yard per carry average. He’s also had 11 players miss tackles on him which has helped lead him to a PFF Run Rating of +8.6 over those four games compared to -0.8 in the previous 12.
• The only player on the Patriots’ 53-man roster with a negative penalty rating on offense or defense while with the Patriots is Brandon Bolden at -0.5. The Patriots have the best penalty rating of all 32 teams on offense at +35.3 as well as defense at +34.3.
• Since Marcus Cannon became the starting right tackle during Week 8, he has yet to allow a single sack.
• From Week 1 to Week 13, linebacker Dont’a Hightower had an Overall PFF Rating of -5.3 and 1.5 stops per game. From Week 14-17, Hightower had an Overall PFF Rating of +10.8 and 3.25 stops per game.
• Over his last two games, T.Y. Hilton has 24 catches on 33 targets for 379 yards (with 150 coming after the catch) for two touchdowns. He has also had five players miss tackles on him.
• Also lighting things up the last two weeks is outside linebacker Robert Mathis who has three sacks, two hits and ten hurries in his last two games. That gives him a Pass Rushing Productivity of 15.8 over those two games compared to the 10.2 he had prior to Week 16.
• There has not been a single game during the 2013 season where Trent Richardson had a yards per carry average of higher than 4.0. Against the Chiefs in the playoffs he fumbled his only attempt.
• Although 14 defensive players have more snaps than Kelvin Sheppard’s 340 this season, he had the third most stops for the team at 24.
• Of all the wide receivers remaining in the playoffs, the two with the most regular season deep receiving yards are Eric Decker at 509 and Demaryius Thomas at 491.
• It’s hard to find a quarterback more balanced than Peyton Manning. When throwing to the left: 148 attempts, 102 completions, 1210 yards, 13 touchdowns. When throwing to the right: 150 attempts, 93 completions, 1290 yards, 14 touchdowns.
• From Week 1 to Week 12 while Malik Jackson was a backup defensive linemen, he had a sack or a hit on one in every 20.4 pass rushes. Since becoming a starter in Week 13, he has had a sack or a hit on one in every 71.5 pass rushes.
• Although cornerback Chris Harris Jr. hasn’t had an interception since Week 8, he has actually stepped up his play recently. From Week 1 to Week 11, he allowed a catch rate of 62.9%, allowed 11.9 yards per catch, one touchdown and had four passes defended. Since Week 12, his catch rate allowed has decreased to 40.7, his yards per catch allowed decreased to 8.8, has not allowed a touchdown, and has five passes defended.
San Diego Chargers
• Tight end Lardarius Green was second in Yards Per Route Run for all tight ends with at least 20 routes run at 2.67 behind just Rob Gronkowski.
• While wide receiver Keenan Allen has five touchdowns over his last five games, he hasn’t made much of an impact outside of those touchdowns. He’s averaged just three catches for 44.8 yards per game compared to an average of 4.8 catches and 70.2 yards per game previously.
• Both Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes are tied for the lowest Run Stop Percentage for 3-4 defensive ends with at least 175 run snaps. They each are at a Run Stop Percentage of 3.2% with eight run stops apiece.
• While Eric Weddle has been a great safety for a while, his numbers over his last six games are ridiculously good. His catch rate allowed has decreased from 72.5% to 61.1%, and his yards per catch allowed has decreased from 10.8 to 5.9. It would be hard to find any defensive player to allow fewer than 6 yards per catch over 11 catches allowed.
• In his first two years in the league, Cam Newton was one of the top seven quarterbacks in terms of deep passing yards. This year he only had 502 yards come from deep passes which was 24th in the league and lowest among quarterbacks still in the playoffs.
• Kicker Graham Gano has averaged 72.0 yards per kickoff which is the best in the league. This has led to just 20.0% of his kickoffs getting returned which is the lowest rate in the league.
• Left tackle Jordan Gross had his worst game of the season in Week 10 against the 49ers. He allowed four pressures which was tied for the most that he had allowed in a game this season, and his -1.4 Run Block Grade was his third lowest.
• Over the first 12 games of the season, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn rushed the passer 15 times which led to one hit and one hurry. Over the last four games he has rushed the passer 20 times which has led to four sacks, one hit and three hurries.
New Orleans Saints
• When Drew Brees throws to Kenny Stills, he has a passer rating of 139.3. That is the highest passer rating any quarterback has throwing to a specific receiver.
• Running back Darren Sproles led all backs in both Drop Rate by not dropping a single pass and Yards Per Route Run at 2.28.
• Cornerback Corey White has allowed 400 yards and four touchdowns this season including the playoffs. Of those, 200 yards and two touchdowns came in the first 13 games when he played 265 coverage snaps. The other 200 yards and two touchdowns have come in the last four games when he’s played just 128 coverage snaps.
• Punter Thomas Morstead ranked in the Top 8 in both yards per kickoff at 69.9 and yards per punt at 46.5.
San Francisco 49ers
• In 2012 Colin Kaepernick was the fifth most accurate quarterback under pressure at an Accuracy Percentage of 71.2%. In 2013 he has been the fifth least accurate quarterback under pressure at 55.1%.
• Tight end Vernon Davis led all tight ends in both yards and touchdowns from deep passes at 409 and six. He more than doubled all other tight ends not named Jimmy Graham in both categories.
• Safety Donte Whitner has been one of the most improved players from 2012 to 2013. His catch rate allowed has decreased from 77.8% to 52.1%, and his touchdowns allowed decreased from 12 to two.
• Linebacker Ahmad Brooks has a Pass Rushing Productivity of 7.5 when rushing from the defenses left side, which is the lowest for all 3-4 outside linebackers with at least 175 pass rushes from the left.
• Only 28.4% of Jon Ryan’s punts have been returned this year which is the second lowest rate in the league.
• Since Week 11 Paul McQuistan has rotated in and out at left guard. He has allowed two hurries and no sacks or hits in his 107 pass blocks since returning to guard.
• Over the last two weeks, Doug Baldwin has 58 routes run, but just one catch on seven targets for 8 yards.
• During the first half of the season, Earl Thomas allowed nine of 16 passes thrown his way to be caught for 50 yards with no touchdowns allowed and four interceptions. Over the second half of the season he allowed nine of 12 passes thrown his way to be caught for 136 yards, two touchdowns allowed and just one interception. This led to a PFF Coverage rating of +11.6 over the first half of the season and -0.5 over the second half.
Follow Nathan on Twitter: @PFF_NateJahnke