32 Observations: Divisional Playoffs

Nathan Jahnke has a wrinkle for his 32 Observations this week: rather than one insight for each NFL team, he's delivered four on each of the remaining title contenders.

| 4 years ago

32 Observations: Divisional Playoffs

We have reached the stage where only one in every four teams has a chance at the Lombardi trophy, while the rest have to shift their focus to the 2013 season. The 32 Observations series will keep its focus on the 2012 season, and give each of the remaining teams four observations each. Each observation features either an unsung hero or a player that has stepped up his game in recent weeks —  unless there we found an observation beyond those criteria that was just too good to pass up!

Atlanta Falcons

— Slot cornerback Robert McClain has allowed 0.82 Yards per Coverage Snap when lining up in the slot, which is fourth-lowest for all cornerbacks with at least 100 slot coverage snaps.

— The Falcons have two of the better receiving running backs in the league. Jason Snelling has a Yards per Route Run of 1.77, and Jacquizz Rodgers averages 1.51. Those are both in the Top 10 for backs with at least 100 pass routes.

— Over the first nine games of the regular season, right tackle Tyson Clabo allowed five sacks, six hits and 17 hurries on 406 pass blocks. Over the last seven, he decreased that to zero sacks, one hit and six hurries on 419 pass blocks.

— Defensive end Kroy Biermann led all 4-3 defensive ends in Run Stop Percentage at 9.8%.

Baltimore Ravens

— Over the past three games, backup running back Bernard Pierce has 315 yards on 49 carries for an average of 6.4 yards per carry, plus 11 players have missed tackles on him.

— In his past 10 starts, left tackle Bryant McKinnie has a Pass Blocking Efficiency of 96.4. In comparison, his teammates Kelechi Osemele and Michael Oher have Pass Blocking Efficiencies of 94.6 and 94.0 respectively.

— Rookie outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw has a Run Stop Percentage of 9.8%, which is the second-best for 3-4 outside linebackers this year.

— Over the past nine games, outside linebacker Paul Kruger has a Pass Rushing Productivity of 17.1. He has recorded a pressure on 21.1% of his pass rushes over that time.

Denver Broncos

— The Broncos have two of the Top 15 tackles in terms of Run Stop Percentage, with Kevin Vickerson at 8.7%, and Justin Bannan at 7.5%.

— Wide Receiver Brandon Stokley had a catch rate of 78.9%, which led all wide receivers.

— Over the first several weeks of the season, right guard Manuel Ramirez had a Run Block Rating of -9.5. Over the past three games, he has pulled a complete 180, and has a Run Block Rating of +5.6.

— The leader in Yards per Coverage Snap this year was Champ Bailey at 0.82. Not far behind was teammate Chris Harris Jr. at 0.91.

Green Bay Packers

— Fullback John Kuhn has been one of the best pass-protecting backs in the league. He has allowed just one sack and one hurry on 74 pass blocking snaps. That is a Pass Blocking Efficiency of 97.6, which is fourth-best in the league for backs with at least 60 pass blocks.

— Over the past four games, Greg Jennings has 23 catches for 276 yards and three touchdowns. Impressively, he has had two players miss tackles on him in each of those four games. Only 25 other wide receivers had eight or more players miss tackles on them all season.

— Since his return to the lineup in Week 14, Sam Shields has allowed a catch rate of just 33.3%. He has more interceptions and passes defended combined (nine), than catches allowed (eight).

— After Week 12, defensive linemen B.J. Raji had a Run Defense Rating of -2.4. Over the past six games, he has a Run Defense Rating of +10.4.

Houston Texans

— Cornerback Kareem Jackson has allowed just 0.96 Yards per Coverage snap, which is fourth-lowest for CBs with at least 500 coverage snaps.

— While J.J. Watt gets all the attention, for a second straight year Antonio Smith finished second in terms of sacks for 3-4 defensive ends. This year he had eight.

Duane Brown has become known as one of the best left tackles in football. Part of this is because of his pass blocking, where his Pass Blocking Efficiency of 97.0 is fifth in the league, but it’s also due to his run blocking, as his Run Block Rating of +13.7 is the best for all tackles not in San Francisco.

— Over the past four games, Arian Foster has played much better than he did during the majority of the season. He has increased his yards per carry from 3.9 to 4.9, his yards after contact per carry from 1.9 to 3.5, and he has increased the frequency that players miss tackles on him from 6.4% of his carries to 14.1%.

New England Patriots

Brandon Spikes has a Tackling Efficiency of 22.5, which is the fourth-highest for all inside/middle linebackers.

— Left guard Logan Mankins had a Run Block Rating of -3.9 early in the year, but after sitting out the middle part of the season, he has a +10.1 Run Block Rating since his return.

— Third-down back Danny Woodhead averaged 11.2 yards per catch, which is the highest for all backs with at least 25 targets.

— Prior to the Patriots’ regular season bye, Vince Wilfork had a Run Stop Percentage of 5.8%. In the games since the bye week, Wilfork has a Run Stop Percentage of 11.5%.

San Francisco 49ers

— On passes that are in the air for 19 yards or less, Alex Smith has an Accuracy Percentage of 84.3%, which is the best in the league. On passes of 20 yards or more, Colin Kaepernick has an Accuracy Percentage of 60.6%, which is the best in the league.

— Over the last five games of the season, receiver Michael Crabtree had 35 catches for 538 yards on 151 pass routes. That gave him a Yards per Route Run of 3.56, which would have been by far the best of any receiver in the past five years had he kept it up over the entire season.

— Over the past three weeks, Ricky Jean-Francois has seen extended playing time due to Justin Smith’s injury. Over that time, Jean-Francois has shown he is worthy of more playing time with a Run Stop Percentage of 9.3%.

— On average, the 49ers move the ball 43.2 yards down the field per Andy Lee punt when taking into account punt yards, return yards and touchdowns. That is the best mark for all punters, and is the second straight year Lee has led this stat.

Seattle Seahawks

— From Week 10 on, Russell Wilson has 9.0 yards per attempt, which leads the league, has a touchdown on 7.6% of his pass attempts. which is second-best in the league, and has an interception on just 1.1% of his passes, which is the best in the league.

— From Week 5 on, Russell Okung has allowed just two sacks, two hits and five hurries. That has given him a Pass Blocking Efficiency of 98.1.

— Last week was the eighth time this season Richard Sherman allowed less than 20 receiving yards. He has 23 combined interceptions and passes defended, which is the highest mark in the league.

— Since returning from an injury in Week 12, K.J. Wright has allowed just 0.75 Yards per Coverage Snap. Had he kept that up all season, it would have been second for all 4-3 outside linebackers.


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.

  • JJ

    I remember when draftniks called Duane Briwn a reach who was too small, and Paul Kruger wasn’t athletic enough to be a double digit sack guy.

  • Brianpadamsus

    Paul Kruger still hasn’t been a double digit sack guy unless you mean that for his whole career, he’s had 15.5.  this year he had 9 during the regular season, and he has played a ton better with Suggs back, drawing away blockers, so that Kruger doesn’t get chipped when he’s coming with the pass rush.