NFL Week 12 Preview: Chargers at Cowboys
The Los Angeles Chargers visit the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.
PFFELO Ranking: 13
Coverage by: Daniel Rymer
Matchup: Los Angeles Chargers offense vs. Dallas Cowboys defense
- T Michael Schofield vs. Edge DeMarcus Lawrence – Schofield played a season high 74 snaps at right tackle last week and will be tasked with fending off the Cowboys’ elite pass-rusher, DeMarcus Lawrence. Schofield has allowed 23 total pressures (two sacks, three hits, 18 hurries) on 191 pass-block snaps, giving him a pass-blocking efficiency rating of 90.7, which ranks a lowly 77th out of 82 offensive tackles. DeMarcus Lawrence, who has seen all but ten of his 280 pass-rush snaps from the defense’s left side, has tallied 48 total pressures (12 sacks, eight hits, 28 hurries), and ranks second in pass-rush productivity among qualifying 4-3 defensive ends.
- RB Austin Ekeler vs. DI David Irving – Ekeler’s role in the Chargers’ offense has increased steadily over the last few weeks, with a season-high 32 snaps last week against the Bills. On the year, Ekeler has gained an average of 3.13 yards after contact per attempt, which is better than Melvin Gordon’s mark of 2.32. With 15 broken tackles on 52 touches this season, Ekeler’s 5-foot-9 frame has been tough to bring down, but Cowboys’ interior defender David Irving should have some opportunities to shut down Ekeler. On the season, Irving has run-stop percentage of 8.6, which ranks 36th out of 121 interior defenders with at least 65 run snaps.
- WR Travis Benjamin vs. CB Jourdan Lewis – Benjamin has been targeted on deep passes (throws 20-plus yards downfield) 17 times out of 37 total targets, which is the highest rate (45.9 percent) among wide receivers with at least 20 targets. On his 17 deep targets, Benjamin has gained 153 yards and caught two touchdowns. On the other side, cornerback Jourdan Lewis has allowed an average of just 0.96 yards per cover snap, good for 37th place out of 118 cornerbacks with at least 100 cover snaps. On 38 targets, Lewis has allowed 24 receptions for 268 yards, four touchdowns, one interception, and a passer rating of 108.2. In a critical game for both teams, Benjamin and Lewis may have to make a play or two on the outside to give their teams an edge.
PFFELO Ranking: 12
Coverage by: Aaron Jones
Matchup: Dallas Cowboys offense vs. Los Angeles Chargers defense
- T La’el Collins vs. Edge Melvin Ingram – La’el Collins currently ranks 60th among 82 qualifying offensive tackles, with a pass-blocking efficiency (measures pressure allowed on a per-snap basis with weighting toward sacks allowed) of 93.3. He’s allowed 31 total pressures through Week 11, tied for the ninth-most among offensive tackles. Melvin Ingram currently ranks second among all edge defenders with a pass-rush grade of 92.7, his 52 total pressures are tied with Von Miller for the second-most this season among edge defenders.
- T Byron Bell vs. Edge Joey Bosa – With the absence of Tyron Smith, left tackle went from a position of strength to arguably the weakest spot on the roster. In Week 11, Byron Bell allowed five total pressures (tied for third-most among offensive tackles) on 36 pass-block snaps. His pass-blocking efficiency of 88.9 ranked 52nd among 58 qualifying offensive tackles. Joey Bosa has continued his dominance since entering the league, currently ranking second among all edge defenders with an overall grade of 92.1 and boasting the highest pass-rush grade among all edge defenders, at 94.2. His 54 total pressures are the most among all edge defenders. If Smith is able to play this week, he’ll have his hands full with Ingram and Bosa.
- WR Dez Bryant vs. CB Casey Hayward – Dez Bryant, the 21st-rated (80.2 overall grade) wide receiver in the league, draws a tough matchup this week in cornerback Casey Hayward. Bryant has consistently been one of the most targeted wide receivers this year, and he was targeted 14 times in Week 11, the most among all wide receivers. He’s been targeted 91 times this season, sixth-most among all wide receivers. Unfortunately, Bryant has struggled with drops, adding another one in Week 11, bringing his total this season to seven (tied for third-most among all wide receivers). Hayward has only improved on his strong 2016 performance, currently grading as the No. 1 overall cornerback in the league with an overall grade of 93.5. He’s currently only allowing a reception every 17.7 coverage snaps, the fifth-best rate among cornerbacks.