32 Observations: Conference Championships

The final four teams in the NFL square off this weekend and Nathan Jahnke delivers 32 slivers of knowledge for you to enjoy prior to the games.

| 4 years ago
32obs conference

32 Observations: Conference Championships

The 32 Observations continues to look at playoff teams. The number of teams has been cut from eight to four, which means the number of observations for each team increases from four to eight. Here are a lot of pieces of information about the players who will be deciding which teams face off in the Super Bowl.

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan averages 7.8 yards per attempt on first and second downs, which is fourth in the league. However, on third downs he averages 7.3 yards per attempt which was just the 12th best.

– During the regular season when Atlanta has 5 yards or less to go for a first down, Roddy White has made 23 catches on 33 targets for 328 yards and six touchdowns. His yardage total is sixth-best and his touchdown tally is second only to Eric Decker.

– Safety William Moore has a Pass Rushing Productivity of 24.1, which is second among safeties. He has one sack, three hits and five hurries on his 29 pass rushes.

– While cornerback Dunta Robinson’s primary responsibility is in coverage, he has a Run Stop Percentage of 3.4 which is eighth in the league. His 13 run stops is third-most for all cornerbacks.

– Outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon has a Yards per Coverage Snap of 0.85, which is the second-lowest in the league for the every-down 4-3 outside linebackers.

– Defensive tackle Vance Walker has a Pass Rushing Productivity of 5.2. Although that was only 25th on the season for all defensive/nose tackles, it is the best remaining among the playoff teams.

– On an average Matt Bosher punt, the Falcons have moved the ball 41.3 yards down the field, which is sixth in the league.

Tony Gonzalez has a Drop Rate of 3.88, which is second-lowest in the league. It is the fourth time in five years that he kept his drop rate under five.

Baltimore Ravens

– When Joe Flacco is not under pressure, he has had a PFF pass rating of +19.0. When he is under pressure, he has had a PFF pass rating of -10.7.

Torrey Smith currently owns an Average Depth of Target of 18.8, which is nearly 2 yards more than any other player with at least 30 targets.

– Nickel cornerback Chykie Brown has 0.83 Yards per Coverage Snap, which is the fourth-lowest in the league, behind Bradley Fletcher, Lardarius Webb and Nate Clements.

Ray Rice has a touchdown on 22.0% of his red-zone carries, which is fourth in the league for running backs with at least 20 such carries. He has nine touchdowns on 41 carries for 113 yards.

– Inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe has a Pass Rushing Productivity of 17.1, which is the best for middle/inside linebackers with at least 25 pass rushes. He has five sacks, five hits and 12 hurries on his 104 pass rushes.

– While it’s true that some areas of his play have declined, Ray Lewis still is great at not missing tackles. He has a Tackling Efficiency of 37.5, which is second among inside/middle linebackers. He had 59 made tackles on the season, compared to just two missed.

– Baltimore has three of the Top 10 3-4 defensive end pass rushers in terms of Pass Rushing Productivity with at least 250 pass rushes. This includes Arthur Jones at 8.7, Pernell McPhee at 6.5 and Haloti Ngata at 6.3.

– Only 40.4% of Justin Tucker’s kickoffs have been returned, which is the fifth-lowest rate in the league, and the lowest among remaining teams.

New England Patriots

Tom Brady averages 8.9 yards per attempt when throwing to the middle of the field, compared to 7.1 when throwing to the outside. That 1.8 difference is fourth-largest in the league among end-of-year starters.

– During the regular season on passes that are in the air between 0 and 10 yards, Wes Welker has 83 catches on 107 targets for 780 yards. That is 90 more yards than any other player.

– Dime defensive back Tavon Wilson is targeted on one in every 8.1 of his plays in coverage, which is the second-lowest among safeties. He has been targeted 39 times on 316 coverage plays, and has allowed 27 catches for 309 yards and four touchdowns, to go along with his four interceptions.

Steven Ridley has amassed 58 regular season red-zone carries, which is third-most in the league behind Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson. He has 163 yards, which is also third-most, along with 12 touchdowns, which ranks second.

Jerod Mayo has the best Combined Tackling Efficiency for all 4-3 outside linebackers at 28.6. He has 74 tackles in the run game and 44 in the pass, compared to just five missed tackles all season.

– Only 38.5% of Zoltan Mesko’s punts have been returned, which is the seventh-lowest rate in the league, and also by far the lowest among remaining teams.

– Although Tom Brady hasn’t called upon Michael Hoomanawanui or Daniel Fells much in the passing game, on their limited targets they have averaged 21.8 and 21.3 yards per catch, respectively. That is the second- and third-best marks in the league for those playing at least 25% of their team’s snaps.

– Over the last three games, Rob Ninkovich has a Pass Rushing Productivity of 10.3, which is significantly better than the 5.8 he had over his previous 14 games.

San Francisco 49ers

– Week 10 was the first week Colin Kaepernick began having significant playing time. He has 8.3 yards per attempt, which ranks third among quarterbacks from Week 10 on.

Michael Crabtree has five touchdowns on third downs, which leads the league. He has done this with 30 catches on 47 targets for 355 yards.

– Cornerback Chris Culliver has been targeted 16 times on intermediate passes (passes in the air between 10 and 20 yards). On those passes, he has allowed just three to be completed. The catch rate of 18.8 is the lowest in the league for those targeted nine or more times.

– Fellow DB Carlos Rogers is one of just two cornerbacks with at least 15 tackles in the pass game and no missed tackles. He has made 44 tackles along with four assists in the pass game.

– Of Frank Gore’s 282 carries, 139 have gone for 4 or more yards. That is 49.3%, which is the third-best for all running backs with at least 100 carries.

– Outside linebacker Aldon Smith has a Pass Rushing Productivity of 11.8 when rushing on the defenses right side. That is the best for all outside pass rushers who are rushing from the defensive right side of the field.

– Although David Akers has had his struggles on field goals this year, he has averaged 68.7 yards per kickoff which is sixth in the league, and the highest among remaining teams.

Jonathan Goodwin is the only center remaining in the playoffs to not allow a sack this season. The other three have allowed at least three each.


Follow Nathan on Twitter: @PFF_NateJahnke

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

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