32 PFF stats to know for NFL Week 14
With Week 14 of the 2016 NFL season upon us, Director of Analytics Nathan Jahnke digs through the Pro Football Focus database to bring you 32 unique pieces off PFF data you need to know for the upcoming matchups.
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
1. Raiders LG Kelechi Osemele has recorded a pass-blocking efficiency of 98.9 this season, the best mark among left guards.
When a free agent receives a big payday from a new team, there are often instances where that player fails to make a major impact for his new franchise. In the case of Kelechi Osemele, however, the former Baltimore Raven is playing even better. Osemele has been just as dominant as a run blocker, but has stepped up his game as a pass protector. He’s allowed just seven QB pressures, with just three of those coming in the last nine games. His biggest test on Thursday Night Football will be stopping rookie Chris Jones, who is third this season in pass-rushing productivity among qualifying interior defenders.
Chris Jones sits at No. 5 in PFF’s ranking of the top 10 NFL rookies.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 6, 2016
2. Chiefs CB Marcus Peters has 14 combined interceptions and pass breakups this season, the most among cornerbacks.
Marcus Peters has five interceptions, second-most among NFL CBs, and nine pass breakups, tied for third-most. In his sophomore season, Peters may not be making as many big plays, but he hasn’t made nearly as many bad ones, either. This week, he will be challenged every snap, going up against Michael Crabtree some plays and Amari Cooper on others.
Washington at Philadelphia Eagles
3. Washington OLB Ryan Kerrigan has recorded a pass-rushing productivity of 13.7, fifth-best among 3-4 outside linebackers.
After a down year in 2015 compared to previous seasons, Ryan Kerrigan has returned to being a great pass-rusher. He is up to 60 QB pressures on the season, which includes double-digit sacks. One of his best games of the season came in Week 6 against Philadelphia, when he recorded three sacks, one hit, and three hurries. The Eagles still don’t have RT Lane Johnson back, so Kerrigan should have a big game again.
4. Eagles DE Brandon Graham has recorded a 12.3 run-stop percentage, the best mark among defensive ends with 120 or more run-defense snaps.
Brandon Graham has been experiencing the best season of his career, partially because he has become a much better run defender. While he hasn’t been perfect there, he’s been making a number of plays. This week will be one of his biggest tests of the season, facing right tackle Morgan Moses and the emerging Rob Kelley.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
5. Texans LB Brian Cushing has allowed 0.44 yards per coverage snap, the second-lowest average among active inside/middle linebackers.
After missing time early in the season and only playing a part-time role some weeks, Brian Cushing played every snap last week and should see every down against Houston’s division rival. Cushing has surrendered just 83 receiving yards into his coverage this season. The middle of the Texans’ defense will be more important this week than most, as both tight ends Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle have had some big receiving games this season.
6. Since Week 6, Colts TE Erik Swoope has averaged 2.65 yards per route run, the third-best mark among NFL tight ends in that span.
Coming into the 2016 season, Swoope had seven career offensive snaps. Swoope earned more playing time this year as the third tight end, and in weeks where someone is injured, the second. He’s been asked to block more often than run routes, but on a per-route basis, few tight ends have played better. While Swoope likely won’t see much playing time against the Texans, when he does see the field, he’s a threat to make plays.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
7. Bengals DT Geno Atkins has recorded 49 QB pressures and a 10.1 pass-rushing productivity; both marks are second-best among defensive tackles.
While the Bengals are having a season to forget, and Geno Atkins isn’t playing at the elite level he has at times, he remains one of the best defensive tackles in football. The Bengals and Browns last faced in Week 7, and that was Atkins’ worst game of the season. He was frequently blocked and held without a tackle. This time around, Atkins will look to record a stronger performance.
8. Since Week 11, CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun has surrendered a 20 percent catch rate, the lowest mark among cornerbacks.
Over his last two games, Briean Boddy-Calhoun has allowed just two of 10 passes thrown into his coverage to be caught. He also has four pass breakups in that time, which is also the best among cornerbacks. This week, the Browns faces the Bengals; in their last meeting, 70 of the 73 yards Boddy-Calhoun surrendered were to A.J. Green. With Green still sidelined, Boddy-Calhoun should be able to maintain his high level of play.
Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans
9. Broncos DE Jared Crick has recorded 21 run stops this season, tied for third-most among 3-4 defensive ends.
As the season has worn on, Jared Crick has become more and more involved within the Broncos’ defense. Over the first two weeks he recorded no stops; in the past two weeks, he recorded five and four, respectively, which are his highest two single-game totals of the season. It will take just three stops to reach a new career high for him. That could happen against the Titans, as the Broncos will need him to stop Tennessee’s strong run game.
10. Titans OLB Brian Orakpo has 39 QB pressures when rushing from the defense’s right side, second-most among 3-4 outside linebackers.
Plenty of pass-rushers are having excellent seasons, but most of them do it facing offenses’ right tackles. Orakpo is one of the few players having a great season who consistently goes up against left tackles. This week, he will face a Broncos’ team with Russell Okung at left tackle, who has disappointed in pass protection. Okung has surrendered 43 QB pressures, tied for fifth-most among tackles, providing Orakpo with the opportunity for a big game.
Arizona Cardinals at Miami Dolphins
11. Cardinals RB David Johnson has 704 receiving yards this season; that not only leads the position, but no back is within 200 yards of him.
If David Johnson were to not play another game, he could still potentially lead the league in receiving yards among running backs at the season’s end. The Dolphins have been average against running backs all year; they’ll need to step it up to slow down Johnson in Week 14.
12. Dolphins DE Cameron Wake has recorded a pass-rushing productivity of 14.6, leading all 4-3 defensive ends.
While Wake has only played in half of the snaps this season, he remains one of the best pass rushers in the league. Over the last six games he has eight sacks, three hits and 21 hurries. This week he faces a Cardinals team who most recently used Ulrick John at right tackle. In two starts this season he’s allowed two sacks, two hits and ten hurries. Wake should have a huge game.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
13. Since Week 8, Bears RB Jordan Howard is averaging 3.2 yards after contact per carry, the best mark among backs with 60 or more carries.
Jordan Howard has been one of the biggest reasons for optimism for the Bears’ offense this season. Howard has been one of the league’s better running backs in 2016, and deserves Pro Bowl consideration in the NFC. His first career start was Week 4 against the Lions when he recorded 111 rushing yards on 23 carries, and he’s been playing even better ever since.
14. Since Week 10, Lions RT Riley Reiff has recorded a pass-blocking efficiency of 97.5, fifth-best among tackles.
In some weeks this season, Riley Reiff has struggled against dominant pass-rushers. Over the last three weeks, however, he has done a fine job of surrendering just four QB pressures. Earlier in the season, he allowed five pressures to Chicago’s pass-rushers; the rotation of Pernell McPhee, Willie Young, and Leonard Floyd will likely cause even more problems for Reiff in Week 14.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills
15. Steelers CB William Gay has surrendered just 0.65 yards per coverage snap this season, the lowest average among cornerbacks with at least 400 coverage snaps.
While the Steelers are known for their offense, one player who has consistently performed well over these last four seasons is William Gay. Currently, Gay is having one of his career-best seasons. Over this last six games, he has allowed 5 or fewer yards four times, and has not allowed more than 26 yards while playing over half the snaps in each game. The Bills are trying to improve their passing attack with WR Sammy Watkins back, but Pittsburgh’s DBs—like Gay—will make that difficult.
16. 46 halfbacks have had 50 or more carries this season; the top two in yards per carry both play for the Bills.
When healthy, LeSean McCoy has had a very good season, and has been a centerpiece of the Bills’ offense. When McCoy is hurting, or needs a break, Mike Gillislee has emerged as someone very deserving of more carries. In fact, Gillislee’s 5.8 yards per carry lead the league. The Steelers have allowed just 92 rushing yards per game, which is sixth-lowest among run defenses, so it will be a little more difficult for the Bills’ backs to succeed than usual.
San Diego Chargers at Carolina Panthers
17. Since Week 7, Chargers RB Melvin Gordon has recorded 302 yards after the catch, third-most among running backs.
Coming out of college, there was concern about whether or not Melvin Gordon could succeed as a receiver. In his rookie season, Gordon only recorded 259 yards after the catch. Part of the reason his successful sophomore season has been surprising is his emergence as a receiver, however. The Panthers have allowed 73 catches to running backs this year, tied for fourth-most among teams.
18. Panthers S Michael Griffin has recorded a 7.5 run-stop percentage, fourth-best among NFL safeties.
Due to injuries at safety and, most recently, Kurt Coleman being in the concussion protocol, Michael Griffin has had a role at safety for the Panthers. While he’s made a number of missed tackles, he’s also been able to make positive plays against the run at a higher rate than most at the position. Against San Diego, one of Carolina’s biggest tasks will be stopping Melvin Gordon—Griffin may play a big role in doing so.
Minnesota Vikings at Jacksonville Jaguars
19. Vikings LG Alex Boone has recorded a pass-blocking efficiency of 97.9, fifth-best among guards.
A lot of the Vikings’ problems this season have been blamed on the offensive line, but one linemen who hasn’t been a major issue is Alex Boone. Boone has allowed an average of one QB pressure per game, and has been an average run blocker. This week, he will face DT Malik Jackson of the Jaguars, who has been one of the league’s better interior pass-rushers this season.
20. Jaguars LB Paul Posluszny has allowed a catch rate of 69.0 percent, the second-lowest mark for inside/middle linebackers who have been thrown at 40 or more times.
One of the most surprising things of the Jaguars’ disappointing season is that Paul Posluszny has been one of the best linebackers in the league. Over the past few years, Posluszny has graded below average, but he has looked good against the run, in coverage, as a pass-rusher in 2016, and hasn’t been penalized yet. This week, he faces a Vikings’ team who hasn’t had a strong passing attack, so Posluszny should have a chance to shine.
New York Jets at San Francisco 49ers
21. Jets LB Darron Lee has 15 tackles in the passing game, with no missed tackles.
That is the third-most made tackles for an inside/middle linebacker without having missed one. After losing his role in the middle of the season, Darron Lee has returned to the starting lineup these past two weeks. This, week he faces a 49ers team that hasn’t had a great passing attack, so it could be time for Lee to record his best game of the season.
22. 49ers TE Vance McDonald is averaging 8.7 yards after the catch, the most for tight ends with at least 20 targets.
As the season has gone on, Vance McDonald has become a bigger part of the 49ers’ offense. While he had a down week against the Bears, in each of the previous four games, he recorded at least 40 yards. As recently as Monday night, we saw what a tight end can do against the Jets; McDonald will have the chance to play a big part in this one.
Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams
23. Falcons WR Julio Jones is averaging 3.16 yards per route run this season, the best mark among wide receivers.
If he finishes the season at that mark, it will be his second straight season leading the league, and would be the best yards-per-route-run mark for a wide receiver since 2008. This week, Julio Jones faces the challenge of the Rams’ secondary where all four starters have performed well in coverage.
24. Rams LB Alec Ogletree has recorded 34 run stops, second-most among inside/middle linebackers.
In his first year at middle linebacker, Alec Ogletree has had his ups and downs. He’s made a number of plays, but missed plenty of tackles, as well. After failing to record many defensive stops recently, he’ll need to turn things around in Week 14 when facing running back Devonta Freeman and the Atlanta Falcons.
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
25. Saints TE Coby Fleener has 203 yards on deep passes this season, the most among active tight ends.
Coby Fleener has had an up-and-down first year with New Orleans, including some fumbles and drops; he’s also made some big plays, however. Fleener has recorded two catches for 31 yards each over the last two games. With Josh Hill injured, Fleener should see plenty of playing time, and a few opportunities to make big plays against the Buccaneers.
26. Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate has dropped just one of 48 catchable passes thrown his way; his drop rate is third-lowest among tight ends with 50 or more targets.
After showing sparks in 2015, Cameron Brate has become the Buccaneers’ best receiving tight end in 2016. He had one of his best games of the season last week, where he caught six passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. A number of players have had great receiving games against the Saints’ defense, and Brate could be a player to join that list.
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers
27. Seahawks CB Richard Sherman has allowed a 48.3 percent catch rate into his coverage this season, the second-lowest mark among cornerbacks who have been targeted 50 or more times.
If this stands, it will be the third consecutive season that Richard Sherman will have allowed between a 48 and 49 percent catch rate. This week, he faces a Packers’ team that has done anything they can to avoid him. In the last three matchups against Green Bay, Sherman has only been thrown at three times. You can expect Sherman to not surrender many—if any—yards on Sunday.
28. Packers S Morgan Burnett has six pass breakups, tied for second-most among safeties.
Morgan Burnett’s play in coverage has only gotten better as the season has worn on. He has two passes defended in his last two games to move up to second in total passes breakups among safeties. Seattle’s best receiving threats are slot receiver Doug Baldwin and tight end Jimmy Graham, so the Packers need to cover the middle of the field well.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
29. Cowboys WR Cole Beasley averages 2.33 yards per route run from the slot, the second-best mark among slot receivers.
One of the many reasons the Cowboys have improved so much from 2015 is the improvement of Cole Beasley. With a quarter of the season remaining, Beasley already has career highs in catches and yards, and has tied his career high in touchdowns. In Week 1 when the two teams faced, Beasley had his second-lowest catch rate of the year, as well as his second-lowest yards per catch. mark. Beasley will try to have a better game this time around.
30. Giants NT Damon Harrison has 42 run stops this season—nine more than any other defensive tackle.
Year after year, Damon Harrison leads defensive tackles in run-stop percentage, but this year it’s not even close. If he reaches 50, that will be the most we’ve seen from a defensive tackle in the Pro Football Focus era. In his first game of the season against the Cowboys and Travis Frederick, he didn’t play as well as usual, but this week, he will have another opportunity to make a few plays against Ezekiel Elliott.
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
31. Ravens S Eric Weddle has two missed tackles compared to 50 made ones, giving him the lowest missed-tackle rate among NFL safeties.
One of the best free-agent additions of the offseason was the Ravens’ signing of Eric Weddle at safety. Week after week, he’s made an impact. Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount has forced 33 missed tackles on his carries this season, which is fifth-most at the position, presenting a bigger challenge than usual for Weddle in run defense.
32. Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower has recorded 17 QB pressures, the second-most among inside/middle linebackers.
One of the reasons Dont’a Hightower is regarded as one of the best linebackers is his versatility. He can drop back in coverage or disrupt offenses with blitz packages. Ravens QB Joe Flacco has a lower completion percentage when blitzed, but has a higher yards per catch average. If Hightower can get pressure with the blitz, that will make Flacco’s life much more difficult.