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. Philadelphia Eagles defense
- T Jared Valdheer vs. Edge Brandon Graham – After three games of disappointing play at right tackle, the eight-year veteran finally rebounded in his team’s Week 4 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. Valdheer played 57 pass-blocking snaps in the contest, allowed just two pressures, and ended the game with a pass-blocking grade of 81.3, his best pass-blocking grade of the season by a considerable amount. His return to form couldn’t come at a better time, as protecting quarterback Carson Palmer from Brandon Graham won’t be an easy task. So far this season, Graham has logged 115 pass-rush snaps from the left side of the defensive line, and produced 13 total pressures, the fifth most among 4-3 defensive ends.
- WR Jaron Brown vs. CB Rasul Douglas – With receivers John Brown and J.J. Nelson struggling with injury, fifth-year wideout Jaron Brown showed up in a big way against the 49ers in Week 4, catching all eight of his catchable targets for six first downs, 105 yards and a wide receiver rating 94.1, the ninth-highest mark among qualifying receivers. This week, he’ll be looking to take advantage of his matchup against rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas, who allowed four receptions, 141 yards, a touchdown and a passer rating of 149.3 on the six throws into his primary coverage last week.
- HB Andre Ellington vs. LB Nigel Bradham – Through four weeks of the season, Andre Ellington is the league’s most targeted running back, with 29 passes thrown his way. He has been moderately productive on his passing snaps, and currently ranks 12th among qualifying backs with an average of 1.66 yards per route run. Look for Ellington to make an impact against linebacker Nigel Bradham, who has allowed four receptions, 52 yards, a touchdown, and a passer rating of 133.3 when covering running backs this season.
Coverage by: Mike Alessandrini
Matchup: Philadelphia Eagles offense vs. Arizona Cardinals defense
- TE Zach Ertz vs. S Tyvon Branch – While Philadelphia’s wide receivers are off to an inconsistent start to 2017, Zach Ertz has enjoyed the best start of his career. Ertz owns the second highest PFF receiving grade among tight ends (83.7), while his 26 catches and 326 receiving yards rank first. His 2.40 yards per route run is also the best mark at his position. The Eagles’ top target will have a tough matchup against Branch, a versatile chess piece on Arizona’s defense. Branch’s 91.5 overall grade is the highest among all safeties, and is allowing just 0.23 yards per coverage snap this season.
- T Jason Peters vs. Edge Chandler Jones – An ageless wonder, Jason Peters has looked sharp during his 14th year in the league. The veteran’s 86.4 overall grade is second among offensive tackles in 2017. He has yet to allow a sack or hit in 147 pass-block snaps, and his 98.0 pass-blocking efficiency is fourth best at his position. His main combatant, Chandler Jones, has also enjoyed a strong season thus far. The edge rusher’s 19 total pressures are tied for third among 3-4 outside linebackers. Jones has a 10.8 pass-rush productivity in 141 pass rush snaps (11th highest at his position).
- WR Alshon Jeffery vs. CB Patrick Peterson – Despite pacing the Eagles with 34 targets, Alshon Jeffery has battled inconsistency this year. Jeffery has caught only half of his targets, but has scored twice in four games. His 1.41 yards per route run ranks 51st out of 92 wide receivers. Unsurprisingly, Patrick Peterson has thrived when matching up against his opponents top pass catchers. Last week, Peterson limited Pierre Garcon to just one catch for 16 yards on four targets while defending one pass. In Week 2, the shutdown corner held T.Y. Hilton to just one catch for 16 yards in coverage. This may not be the matchup for Jeffery to have a breakout game.