10 stats to know for Conference Championship weekend
After bringing you 10 must-know stats for Wild Card weekend and for the Divisional Round, we’re closing out the pre-Super Bowl playoffs with another round of stats to know for the Conference Championship round.
The four best teams — Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, and Carolina Panthers — are all featured this weekend, so you’ll notice a fair amount of “best in the league” references in the stats down below. There should be some great football played on Sunday, which also means there are some ripe fantasy opportunities.
Let’s get to it.
1. Peyton Manning was accurate on 66.3 percent of his passes when under pressure this season. That’s actually way up from his 57.3 percent rate in 2014, and not too far from the 69 percent rate he posted during his record-setting 2013 campaign. In fact, in the PFF era (dating back to 2007), Manning’s 66.3 percent rate in 2015 was his fourth best, behind 2013, 2009, and 2008. He won NFL MVP honors in each of those three seasons.
2. Tom Brady’s average time to throw was 2.35 seconds this season, second among all quarterbacks (behind P. Manning — 2.31). Brady’s time to throw from Weeks 1-10, with a healthy Julian Edelman, was 2.21 seconds. From Weeks 11-17 — sans Edelman — his time to throw increased to 2.55 seconds, tied for sixth fastest.
3. Cam Newton lost a minimum of 457 passing yards to dropped passes this season, tops in the league. That’s despite the fact that 11 other quarterbacks suffered more drops than Newton in 2015. Carolina’s drops were simply more costly.
4. Rookie running backs David Johnson scored a touchdown on over 11 percent of his receptions. That was most among all running backs who had at least 20 receptions this year by a fair margin. The “at least 20 receptions” threshold nets a sample size of 55 running backs; Johnson’s touchdown per reception rate was twice as high as 39 of them
5. James White averaged 2.07 yards per route run this season. That’s actually better than Dion Lewis, the man he replaced as New England’s pass-catching running back threat. Lewis averaged 2.01 yards per route run.
6. Greg Olsen had eight receptions on targets 20-plus yards down the field this season, tied for most among all tight ends with Rob Gronkowski. Olsen leads the way with two touchdowns on deep targets. He added a ninth catch and a third touchdown on deep targets in the Divisional Round.
7. Larry Fitzgerald lined up as a slot receiver on 57 percent of his pass routes this season. But he was targeted on only 20.3 percent of those routes, which is a significantly lower rate than his target-per-route-run rate when lined up out wide (31.5 percent).
8. Emmanuel Sanders scored 1.2 more fantasy points per game when Brock Osweiller was the starter, but Demaryius Thomas scored 2.3 more fantasy points per game when Peyton Manning was the starter. Thomas saw 11.1 targets per game with Manning, but 9.6 with Osweiller. Sanders didn’t see much change: He went from 8.9 per game with Manning to 8.4 with Osweiller. Either way you slice it, Thomas undoubtedly gets the bigger boost of the two with Manning under center.
9. Brandon McManus scored 76 points in eight home games in 2015. He scored only 57 points in eight away games. If you include the Divisional Round home game into the mix, his home total jumps to 96 in nine games, an average of 10.6 points per game. That’s a huge increase over the 7.1 points per game he scored when away from Denver.
10. Jonathan Stewart forced 49 missed tackles on rushes this season, third most among all running backs. He trailed only Doug Martin (57) and Adrian Peterson (50), the two leading rushers this season. For comparison: Denver’s strong running back duo of C.J. Anderson (24) and Ronnie Hillman (23) forced a combined 47 missed tackles in 2015. Even though Anderson and Hillman combined to have more than 100 rushing attempts than Stewart, they still didn’t evade as many tackles as he did.