NFL Week 14 Preview: Eagles at Rams
The Philadelphia Eagles visit the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.
Coverage by: Mike Alessandrini
Matchup: Philadelphia Eagles offense vs. Los Angeles Rams defense
- T Lane Johnson vs. Edge Robert Quinn – As is the case every week, Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson will play an important role in determining the success of his offense. Johnson ranks fifth at his position with an 85.1 overall grade in 2017 and is second among active tackles with a 97.3 pass-blocking efficiency. Over his last four games, the former fourth-overall selection has surrendered just four total pressures while not allowing a sack. He has also been effective in Philadelphia’s top-tier run game, with an 82.0 run-block grade this season. On the opposite side of the field, Robert Quinn is beginning to turn his season around after a rough start on the edge of Wade Phillips’ defense. In his last three games, Quinn has accumulated three sacks and eight stops in run defense. In the same set of games, the veteran has not missed a tackle, and his 8.4 run-stop percentage ranks second among edge defenders.
- G Brandon Brooks vs. DI Michael Brockers – Sticking with clashes in the trenches, Brandon Brooks and Michael Brockers will do battle on the interior in both the pass and run games. Brooks’ 88.2 overall grade currently ranks third among guards, while his 98.0 pass-blocking efficiency is tied for first. Philadelphia’s right guard has not allowed a single sack in 460 pass-block snaps this season. Meanwhile, Brockers is coming off a strong game against the Cardinals last week, where he recorded three total pressures and three stops in run defense. While he may not be the fiercest pass-rusher on Los Angeles’ defensive line, the former first-round pick is fantastic against the run, amassing 24 stops in 2017. His 12.6 run stop percentage is third-best at his position.
- WR Alshon Jeffery vs. CB Trumaine Johnson – The Jeffery-Johnson matchup will be an exciting one to watch this week, as it will pit two tall, physical players against each other. Jeffery did not have his best game against Seattle last week. He hauled in four of six targets for 42 yards, with just two yards coming after the catch. On the season, Carson Wentz has not thrown an interception when targeting his top wideout, earning a 105.3 passer rating (ninth-best mark among receivers). For the Rams, Johnson is averaging 10 coverage snaps per reception and allowing 1.49 yards per coverage snap. Where this matchup will be particularly interesting is on contested targets. Jeffery is known for his strong hands, catch radius and ability to come down with 50-50 balls. Johnson is just as good in close quarters, however. Receivers are catching just 16.7 percent of contested targets when matched up with the Rams cornerback this year. This is the best mark in the NFL.
Coverage by: Mike Cahill
Matchup: Los Angeles Rams offense vs. Philadelphia Eagles defense
- QB Jared Goff vs. Eagles Pass Rush – Goff currently owns the sixth-highest passer rating on dropbacks under pressure since Week 8 with an 88.8. In that same time, Goff is one of only two quarterbacks to have at least four touchdowns and zero interceptions under pressure, the other being Carson Wentz. With the Eagles defense generating pressure at the highest rate in the league (42 percent of pass plays) and the most pressures overall (285), Goff will be tested on his ability to get the ball out and make quick decisions. Two of the Rams’ losses this season have come in games where Goff has been pressured on 36 percent or more of his dropbacks, making his performance under pressure all the more important.
- WR Sammy Watkins vs. CB Ronald Darby – In the two games without wide receiver Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins has been targeted 13 times, taking two of them for touchdowns and owning a passer rating of 92.9 when he is targeted. With Watkins lining up wide left 79 out of 99 snaps, he will see a lot of cornerback Ronald Darby. Since returning from injury in Week 11, Darby has allowed the 12th-lowest passer rating into his coverage at 51.0 on 26 targets. He also ranks 22nd in yards allowed per coverage snap with 1.29 on 97 coverage snaps.
- RB Todd Gurley vs. LB Mychal Kendricks – Through the first 12 weeks of the season, linebacker Mychal Kendricks had allowed the 14th-lowest passer rating against with his 85.8 on 53 targets, by way of zero touchdowns and three passes defended. His Week 12 matchup against the Seahawks saw him give up five receptions on six targets for 63 yards and the first touchdown in his coverage (a running back) for a passer rating of 150.0. The Rams will be wise to exploit this as well, seeing as how Gurley is second among running backs in receiving yards with 563, second in missed tackles after the catch with 13 and is averaging the fourth-highest yards gained per route run with 1.90 on 297 snaps in route.