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: Aaron Resnick
Matchup: Houston Texans offense vs. New England Patriots defense
- WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. CBs Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore – Despite being thrown to frequently in the first two weeks, Texan quarterbacks haven’t been very efficient when throwing to Hopkins. His passer rating when targeted of 74.7 currently ranks 54th among 81 qualifying wideouts. Things don’t figure to get any easier for Hopkins this week regardless of if he is going up against Butler or Gilmore this Sunday. While Butler is off to a slower start, allowing a passer rating of 123.1 the 11 times he has been targeted, he has still allowed just 0.86 yards per coverage snap. Gilmore to this point has allowed 0.52 per coverage snap and his 28.3 coverage snaps per reception allowed currently ranks seventh among qualifying corners.
- T Breno Giacomini vs. EDGE Deatrich Wise – Giacomini improved from his week one showing, but the overall numbers still aren’t pretty. With an overall grade of 29.8, Giacomini currently ranks 70th out of 72 qualifying tackles while checking in last in pass blocking with a grade of 23.3. On 79 pass-blocking snaps, Giacomini has allowed 16 total pressures giving him a pass-blocking efficiency of 84.2 that ranks 70th among qualifying tackles. Wise has made his presence felt early as a rookie and is coming off an extremely impressive performance this past Sunday. With five total quarterback hurries on 26 pass rushing snaps in Week 2, Wise’s pass-rush productivity of 16.9 now ranks fifth among all qualifying edge defenders through two games.
- T Chris Clark vs. EDGE Trey Flowers – After logging seven snaps in Week 1, Clark replaced Kendall Lamm at left tackle playing all 66 snaps in Week 2. Clark’s overall grade of 35.2 ranks 64th among tackles, but his pass-blocking grade of 36.1 is tops among Texan qualifiers. Clark recorded a pass-blocking efficiency of 91.9 in Week 2, allowing three total pressures on 31 pass-blocking snaps. On 79 pass-rushing snaps, Flowers has already recorded 11 total quarterback pressures, giving him a pass-rush productivity of 11.1 that ranks 28th among 89 qualifying edge defenders.
Coverage by: Andrew Fleischer
Matchup: New England Patriots offense vs. Houston Texans defense
- WR Danny Amendola vs. CB Kareem Jackson – In 2016, Danny Amendola ran 88.7 percent of his routes from the slot, the fourth-highest percentage in the league, earning a 72.4 overall PFF grade. Should he be ready to go Sunday after missing Week 2 with a concussion, he’ll see plenty of Kareem Jackson on defense. Jackson graded out well overall in 2016 with a 77.1 overall PFF grade, but his 5.1 coverage snaps per target when in slot coverage made him the sixth most frequently targeted cornerback, and his 6.7 cover snaps per reception was the fourth-worst mark among 52 cornerbacks with at least 131 snaps in the slot. After leading the Patriots in yards and receptions in Week 1, Amendola should receive plenty of targets in this game.
- HB James White vs. LB Zach Cunningham and LB Benardrick McKinney – James White has been impressive as a receiver out of the backfield over the past few seasons, and his PFF receiving grades bear that out, earning an 86.0 receiving grade in 2015, and 83.2 in 2016 to an 82.5 so far in 2017. White caught all eight of his targets for 85 yards in Week 2 against the Saints, and was often covered by linebackers. Should that tendency continue against Houston, Zach Cunningham and Bernardrick McKinney could each draw the coverage assignment against White. McKinney’s already missed two tackles in pass coverage this season on four attempts for a 2.0 tackle efficiency, while Cunningham has yet to miss a tackle on four attempts in the passing game.
- TE Rob Gronkowski vs. S Corey Moore – When Rob Gronkowski is in single coverage, he’s extremely hard to defend. Overall, his 2.44 yards per route run leads all tight ends with at least 49 snaps in route through the first two games of 2017. When he’s matched up with a safety, it’s almost unfair. Safety Corey Moore should draw the coverage assignment on some routes deeper down the field. Moore has earned a 75.3 overall grade on the season so far, and on 48 snaps in coverage, he has yet to allow a reception on two targets.