8 PFF stats to know for the NFL's Wild Card weekend
With Wild Card weekend upon us, Director of Analytics Nathan Jahnke digs through the Pro Football Focus database to bring you eight unique pieces of PFF data you need to know for the upcoming matchups.
Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans
1. Raiders LT Donald Penn was one of two offensive tackles with 400 or more pass blocks and just one sack allowed.
The other offensive tackle was Texans LT Duane Brown, but Penn had 622 pass blocks to Brown’s 430. Penn has been one of the best offensive tackles this year not just for his pass protection, but also his great play against the run. This week he will see a lot of Jadeveon Clowney, who has been a top-four-graded edge defender these past four weeks despite sitting Week 17 out.
2. Texans CB A.J. Bouye has been the only cornerback with 10 or more pass breakups and fewer than 10 yards per catch.
This season Bouye has been a large part of the Texans defensive success. In over half of his games he allowed 20 or fewer yards. While the Week 11 game against the Raiders was Bouye’s only game with an interception, it was also his lowest-graded game in coverage. He had a defensive pass interference, a missed tackle, a first down allowed, and a play where he was beaten but the receiver didn’t complete the catch. This time Bouye will have a chance to redeem that performance while facing Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.
Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks
3. Lions WR Golden Tate had 23 players miss tackles on his catches, which was second most for wide receivers.
This was Tate’s fifth consecutive year ranking somewhere in the top three in broken tackles for wide receivers. This week he faces his former team in the Seahawks, where he played when his streak began. He will often see Richard Sherman and DeShawn Shead. They have a combined six missed tackles on coverage on the season, so it’s unlikely Tate will break as many tackles on Saturday as usual.
4. The Seahawks cornerbacks have made 33 stops in the run game; seven more than any other team.
Cornerbacks aren’t typically known for making plays in the run game, but DeShawn Shead, Jeremy Lane and Richard Sherman are all in the top four for run-stop percentage for cornerbacks. Lions new starting running back Zach Zenner has only averaged 2.7 yards per carry when running to the outside, so chances are the Seahawks defense will be able to stop the outside run in this game.
Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers
5. Dolphins HB Jay Ajayi had 58 players miss tackles on his carries; 11 more than any other running back.
He also averaged 3.5 yards after contact per carry, which was the best for backs with at least 100 carries. He has been a great surprise for the Dolphins offense despite subpar run blocking. The Steelers had an above-average run defense this season, but in Week 6 Ajayi had his breakout 204-yard performance against this Pittsburgh defense.
6. Steelers RT Marcus Gilbert had a pass-blocking efficiency of 96.8, which was the best for right tackles this season.
Gilbert has been one of the reasons the Steelers have had one of the best offensive lines in football in 2016. One of the reasons the Dolphins won in Week 6 is Cameron Wake had a good performance with a sack and a hit, and Gilbert was missing in that game. This time around, we’ll consistently a great matchup between Gilbert and Wake.
New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers
7. The Giants were the only team in 2016 with two cornerbacks with 10 or more pass breakups.
Those two cornerbacks were Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Both players were among the top eight cornerbacks in the NFL this season. When the Packers played the Giants in Week 5, they held Jordy Nelson to 4 catches on 12 targets for 38 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. That was before Nelson became the hottest receiver of the second half of the season, so this time around stopping Nelson will be more difficult for these top cornerbacks.
8. Packers LT David Bakhtiari allowed a pressure on 1 in every 33.7 pass blocks; second-best for offensive tackles.
Typically when a player signs a new contract, fans are worried they will regress now that they were paid. Bakhtiari received a new contract early this season, and he only got better. However, throughout the season, he faced few pass-rushers as good as Olivier Vernon. When lined up on the defense’s right, he had a pressure one in every 6.7 pass rushes, which was second best for 4-3 defensive ends who lined up primarily on the right. This is another battle of strength versus strength.