Each week, the PFF analysis team will bring you break downs of the most important matchups for each game of the NFL season.
Coverage by: Mark Chichester
Matchup: Arizona Cardinals offense vs. Indianapolis Colts defense
- RB Kerwynn Williams vs. DI Al Woods – Following the wrist injury to David Johnson, the starting running back duties will fall to fourth-year back Kerwynn Williams. Albeit on limited touches, Williams was an impressively strong runner last season, averaging 5.56 yards per contact per attempt, the highest mark among running backs with at least 15 touches in 2016. He’ll be going up against interior lineman Al Woods, who was active against the run in his team’s Week 1 match against the Los Angeles Rams, producing two stops a run defense grade of 81.8.
- T John Wetzel vs. EDGE Jabaal Sheard – With incumbent left tackle D.J. Humphries set to miss time with an MCL injury, the Cardinals will continue their trust in back up John Wetzel to man the blindside. Things can only get better for Wetzel, who played 44 pass-blocking snaps in relief of the injured Humphries, and proceeded to allow 13 total pressures, including a sack and a hit. He ended the afternoon with a pass-blocking efficiency of 77.3, which ranked last among offensive tackles – by a decent amount. He’ll be going up against pass-rusher Jabaal Sheard, who was quiet last week, but will be looking to return to 2016 form, where he produced 39 total pressures on 316 total pass rush snaps and ranked 19th of 53 qualifying defensive ends with a pass-rush productivity of 9.7.
- WR J.J. Nelson vs. CB T.J. Green – After a season where he led the Cardinals receivers in both yards per route run (1.70) and wide receiver rating (97.1), he’ll want to show Bruce Arians that he’s capable of a larger role with John Brown set to miss time with a quad injury. He made a great start last week, catching all five targets for 43 yards and touchdown, and will look to build on that start against T.J. Green, who will start at cornerback in the absence of Vontae Davis. Green struggled in coverage last week, and allowed 39 yards on two catches, a touchdown and a passer rating of 124.0 on throws into his primary coverage.
Coverage by: Mike Alessandrini
Matchup: Indianapolis Colts offense vs. Arizona Cardinals defense
- WR T.Y. Hilton vs. CB Patrick Peterson – The Colts’ top receiver struggled to make an impact in Week 1, partly due to poor quarterback play. Hilton was targeted seven times, but caught just three passes for 57 yards. Two passes intended for the wideout were intercepted, so Colts quarterbacks had a measly 32.1 passer rating when he was targeted (seventh lowest in the league last week). Unsurprisingly, Indianapolis expects Peterson to shadow Hilton for most of the afternoon. Arizona’s top cornerback earned a 76.3 overall grade in his team’s Week 1 loss to Detroit. He only was targeted twice, but his only completion allowed was a six yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones.
- RB Frank Gore vs. LB Haason Reddick– Playing just 19 snaps in Week 1 due to the Colts’ colossal deficit in the second half, Gore collected 26 of his 42 rushing yards after contact. He also forced one missed tackle on 10 carries. The Cardinals will look to their rookie linebacker to slow down their opponents rushing attack, something he did particularly well in his NFL debut last week. Reddick’s 83.1 run defense grade was ninth best among linebackers last week, and he did not miss a tackle in the passing or running game. The young linebacker accumulated two stops behind the line of scrimmage against Detroit.
- T Anthony Castonzo vs. EDGE Chandler Jones – One area the Colts struggled in against the Rams was along the offensive line. Their best performer was right tackle Denzelle Good, who earned the highest PFF grade (78.7) and pass-blocking efficiency grade (97.1) on the unit. Unfortunately, Good was placed on IR with a torn ligament in his wrist. The next best performer was veteran tackle Anthony Castonzo (71.2 overall grade). Castonzo will be tasked with negating a fierce Cardinals pass-rush after allowing two sacks last week. The veteran’s toughest task will be managing Chandler Jones. Jones accumulated five total pressures, including one sack, in Week 1. His 9.8 pass rush productivity ranked 11th at his position. If Indianapolis is to have a chance to avoid an 0-2 start, keeping Jones out of the backfield will be imperative.