NFL Week 16 Preview: Lions at Bengals
The Detroit Lions visit the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 16 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.
PFFELO Ranking: 16
Coverage by: Brett Whitefield
Matchup: Detroit Lions offense vs. Cincinnati Bengals defense
- G Joe Dahl vs. DI Geno Atkins – In his first career start last week, Joe Dahl put up a very respectable performance, earning a 77.9 game grade. He was very good in the run game, producing an 88.6 run-blocking grade, but abysmal as a pass-blocker, producing a 38.5 pass-blocking grade. On his 42 pass-blocking, snaps Dahl allowed five total pressures including a sack. Through 15 weeks of the season Atkins ranks second among interior defenders with an overall grade of 91.6. As usual, he has been a force rushing the passer and ranks second in both pass-rush productivity (12.3) and total pressures with 62.
- WR Marvin Jones vs. CB William Jackson – Among receivers with at least 15 deep targets, Jones’ 50.0 percent catch rate ranks tied for first. This efficiency has put Jones’ near the top of the leader board in most deep receiving metrics. He ranks tied for third in catches (14), third in yards (512), and tied for third in touchdowns (5). This week Jones will draw arguably his toughest test of the season in Jackson, who is the 14th-highest graded corner, coming in with a grade of 86.3. He is particularly good defending against deep passes. On 10 deep targets into Jackson’s coverage, quarterbacks have produced a passer rating of just 6.5.
- WR Golden Tate vs. Bengals defense – Tate enters the game in the midst of a career year, currently ranking seventh among receivers with an overall grade of 85.9. Tate has been one of the most consistent matchup mismatches in the league, running 79.1 percent of his routes from the slot, producing 58 catches and 657 yards. When Stafford targets Tate from the slot, he has produced a passer rating of 117.4. Tate is also a huge threat with the ball in his hands and once again leads receivers in forced missed tackles with 21. Among 40 receivers with at least 75 targets he ranks first in yards after catch with a mark of 6.5 yards after the catch per reception. As a unit the Bengals defense has surrendered a passer rating against of 104.8 to receivers from the slot.
PFFELO Ranking: 24
Coverage by: Lorin Cox
Matchup: Cincinnati Bengals offense vs. Detroit Lions defense
- WR A.J. Green vs. CB Darius Slay – Despite the Bengals’ struggles, Green is still the eighth-highest graded wide receiver in the league at 85.5 overall. He has only caught 58.8 percent of his total targets this season, his lowest percentage since 2013. Still, he’s averaging 2.27 yards per route run, also the eighth-best among wide receivers. Only four of Green’s 67 catches have come on passes that travel more than 20 yards in the air. He’ll often match up with Slay, the ninth-highest graded cornerback at 88.3 overall. He’s been the fifth-most targeted cornerback this season, but quarterbacks targeting him have just a 56.3 passer rating, the seventh-best at his position.
- T Eric Winston vs. Edge Dwight Freeney – Winston is set to take over at left tackle in Cincinnati after Cedric Ogbuehi went down with injury. Last week against the Minnesota Vikings, Winston earned just a 31.0 overall grade off the bench. He allowed one sack and three hurries on 27 pass-blocking snaps. He only appeared in three snaps this season prior to Week 15. Freeney has struggled to generate much of a pass-rush since joining the Lions. He’s generated only two hurries on 61 pass-rushing snaps, the fewest total pressures among all edge defenders with at least 60 snaps in the last three weeks. 95.1 percent of his pass-rushes have come from the right side of the defense.
- TE Tyler Kroft vs. LB Tahir Whitehead – Over the last three weeks, Kroft only has 31 receiving yards on 72 routes run, giving him a 0.43-yard average that ranks as the second-worst among tight ends with at least 70 routes. For the season on the whole, he has a 68.8 overall grade that ranks 27th among tight ends, and his 49.6 run-blocking grade ranks 47th. Whitehead is the 19th-highest graded linebacker this season at 81.1 overall, but his 51.2 coverage grade ranks 49th. Since Week 9, he has been the third-most targeted linebacker in coverage. His four penalties over that span is tied for most at his position.