Best one-on-one matchups to watch in NFL Week 17
Ready for Week 17 NFL action? Pro Football Focus highlights the key one-on-one matchup to watch in every game.
New Orleans at Atlanta Falcons
Through 16 weeks, Atlanta’s Vic Beasley has recorded the 14th-best pass-rushing productivity mark among 3-4 outside linebackers, with 43 total QB pressures. On Sunday, Saints RT Zach Strief will play a role in slowing Beasley; for the season, Strief is tied with Philadelphia’s Jason Peters for the sixth-highest pass-blocking efficiency among offensive tackles.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
As is the case nearly every season, Joe Thomas has graded as one of the league’s best left tackles. He’ll face a familiar opponent on Sunday in the form of Steelers OLB James Harrison; through Week 16, Harrison has recorded the sixth-highest pass-rushing productivity mark among 3-4 outside linebackers.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
A fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft, Ravens CB Tavon Young has earned the highest grade among NFL rookie cornerbacks this season. With A.J. Green still sidelined, Young will likely aid in slowing the Bengals’ top receiver of late, Brandon LaFell. LaFell’s two highest-graded games of the season came in Week 15 and 16, respectively.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins
In a one-on-one meeting less heralded than the Week 3 bout, Redskins CB Josh Norman will attempt to limit the impact of Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. in Week 17. In that first matchup, Beckham caught five of seven targets into Norman’s coverage to the tune of 88 yards (44 coming after the catch).
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Just a few spots below fellow rookie Tavon Young in PFF’s cornerback grades this season is Carolina’s James Bradberry. A turf toe injury forced Bradberry to miss the Panthers’ Week 5 meeting with the Bucs, a game in which Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans hauled in 89 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
Bills WR Sammy Watkins turned in his highest-graded game of the season against the Dolphins in Week 16, and will look to continue that momentum into Sunday’s matchup with the Jets. Watkins will be without his primary quarterback, however, as the Bills have elected to bench Tyrod Taylor.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
Over the past two weeks, Cowboys DT David Irving has recorded more QB pressures than any other NFL defensive tackle (14), and the second-best pass-rushing productivity mark behind only Geno Atkins. Can Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks slow Irving’s recent hot streak?
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck has been under pressure at a higher rate than any other NFL quarterback this season (44.5 percent of dropbacks), yet owns the 11th-highest passer rating on pressured dropbacks (73.1). Can he and the Colts secure another AFC South win at home on Sunday against CB Jalen Ramsey and the Jaguars?
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
In what has been a roller-coaster of a season for the Vikings, edge defender Danielle Hunter has impressed among the Minnesota defensive line (not an easy feat, with teammates Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen demanding much of the spotlight). Hunter owns the fifth-highest pass-rushing productivity mark among all 4-3 defensive ends through Week 16.
Kansas City Chargers at San Diego Chargers
While the Chargers will finish the season at the bottom of the AFC West, an extremely bright spot has been that of Joey Bosa’s immediate impact. The rookie first-rounder is PFF’s fifth-highest-graded edge defender this season, just behind the likes of Khalil Mack, Cameron Jordan, Brandon Graham and Von Miller, respectively.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
Without Derek Carr under center for the Raiders on Sunday, Amari Cooper will face an even tougher-than-usual test against the formidable Broncos secondary. For the season, Aqib Talib and Denver teammate Chris Harris Jr. own the highest two grades among NFL cornerbacks.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
One of the game’s oft-underrated receivers, Doug Baldwin has put together yet another solid season for Seattle. When targeting Baldwin, QB Russell Wilson has recorded a 119.1 passer rating through Week 16, the league’s fifth-highest mark. That connection will be even more important moving forward with Tyler Lockett out for the remainder of the season with a broken fibula and tibia.
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff’s introduction into the NFL hasn’t gone exactly to plan, as the No. 1 overall pick has earned just the 35th-best grade among QBs since taking over the starting spot from Case Keenum. He faces a tough test in the form of Arizona’s secondary on Sunday, a unit featuring Patrick Peterson, who has allowed just a 79.6 passer rating into his coverage this season.
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
First-round rookie Taylor Decker has lived up to his draft status this season, surrendering just five sacks on 615 pass-blocking snaps. On Sunday, he’ll often be tested by veteran OLB Julius Peppers — a first-round selection himself in 2002. For more on this key NFC North matchup, be sure to check out PFF’s Big-Game Breakdown.