Best one-on-one matchups to watch in NFL Week 14
The 14th week of the 2016 NFL season is already underway, with the Chiefs’ win over the Raiders on Thursday. As the action continues, be sure to watch these key one-on-one matchups in every remaining NFL game.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills
At 38 years old, James Harrison remains the Pittsburgh Steelers’ best edge defender, currently ranking among the top 10 at his position league-wide. In Week 14, he’ll often face Bills LT Cordy Glenn; while Glenn hasn’t quite reached the heights he hit in 2015 (85.2 overall grade), he’s still grading among the 20 best offensive tackles this season.
Arizona Cardinals at Miami Dolphins
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill has assembled somewhat of a roller-coaster-type season in 2016, and enters Week 14 coming off his lowest-graded game of the year. He’ll face an Arizona secondary led by cornerback Patrick Peterson, who surrendered just one catch into his coverage against the Redskins last week, also nabbing an interception.
Minnesota Vikings at Jacksonville Jaguars
After earning an 86.2 overall grade in the 2015 season, Jaguars WR Allen Robinson — along with the rest of Jacksonville’s offense, for that matter — has seen a sharp drop in performance this season. On Sunday, he and Blake Bortles will be tested by a Vikings’ secondary without safety Harrison Smith.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
In a battle of rookie first-rounders, Bears OLB Leonard Floyd will often face Lions LT Taylor Decker on Sunday as the former Georgia Bulldog attempts to slow the impressive play of quarterback Matthew Stafford. Decker is coming off a strong performance against the Saints’ pass-rush, in which he surrendered just one QB hit and two hurries.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
Since playing more outside linebacker upon his arrival to Cleveland, Jamie Collins has earned average or above-average marks in each game as a Brown. In Week 14, he’ll likely be among the crew tasked with stopping Bengals TE Tyler Eifert, who, since his Week 7 return, has surged up Pro Football Focus’ tight end rankings.
San Diego Chargers at Carolina Panthers
It’s unlikely anyone predicted that 2015 undrafted free agent Tyrell Williams would be the Chargers’ top wide receiver entering Week 14 of the season, but here we are. Williams will often face Panthers rookie CB James Bradberry on Sunday; Bradberry has been a relative bright spot in one of the league’s lowest-graded pass-coverage units (27th) this season.
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While it’s unlikely — though not impossible — that the New Orleans Saints make the playoffs this year, a win over Tampa Bay would certainly aid a late-season push. Drew Brees has put together yet another impressive season — his sixth in a row with an 89.2 grade or higher — and looks to pick apart the Buccaneers’ secondary on Sunday, a unit led by CB Brent Grimes.
Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans
In a matchup of strength versus strength, Titans rookie RT Jack Conklin will have his hands full against Broncos OLB Von Miller in Week 14. In Week 3, Conklin helped limit top-graded edge defender Khalil Mack to just three quarterback hurries, with no sacks or hits surrendered. Can he have similar success against another top AFC West pass-rusher?
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles
While Redskins LT Trent Williams often receives much praise — he’s set to return from suspension this week — RT Morgan Moses is having a strong season in his own right. Moses’ performance has dropped to average or just below average over the past two games, but on the season, he’s grading among the 20 best offensive tackles in the league.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
In a game dripping with postseason implications, CB A.J. Bouye and the Texans travel to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday for a key AFC South matchup. In Week 6, Colts QB Andrew Luck completed two of three pass attempts into Bouye’s coverage for 20 total yards — with only 3 yards coming after the catch.
New York Jets at San Francisco 49ers
Through Week 13, Sheldon Richardson has thus far earned the lowest season grade of his four-year career. On Sunday, he’ll look to better that mark against 49ers LT Joe Staley; the veteran has surrendered 39 QB pressures (four sacks, six hits, 29 hurries) this season, 12th-most among offensive tackles.
Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams
It’s becoming difficult not to highlight the mismatches Aaron Donald faces nearly every game, as they will most certainly have an effect on the QB’s day. Donald owns 64 quarterback pressures this season; the DT with the next most is Geno Atkins, with just 49. Donald will likely up that number even more on Sunday against Falcons RG Chris Chester.
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers
Packers WR Jordy Nelson has seemingly hit his stride since Week 9 — his 28-yard Week 11 performance excepted — and has scored a touchdown in all but three games this season. On Sunday, Richard Sherman will attempt to slow Nelson’s momentum; QBs targeting receivers in Sherman’s coverage this season have recorded just a 55.0 passer rating, the fourth-best mark among NFL CBs.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Possibly the biggest beneficiary of the 2016 free-agency period, Olivier Vernon has played a key role on the Giants’ defensive line this season. Vernon must carry even more weight in Week 14, however, with fellow New York edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul likely to miss the remainder of the season.
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
While Patriots CB Malcolm Butler surrendered 78 yards to Rams receivers last week, 66 of those yards came on one play. For the game, Butler surrendered just three receptions on seven targets into his coverage, with one interception and one pass breakup to his name. Can he slow Ravens WR Mike Wallace, who is coming off a six-reception game, in Week 14?