PFF stats you need to know for each Divisional Round game
With the NFL Divisional Round games now set, here are the key stats you need to know for all four matchups:
Houston Texans at New England Patriots
New England’s Tom Brady ranks first among all NFL quarterbacks with an overall grade of 99.3—the highest mark ever recorded at the position in the PFF era.
Over the span of the PFF era, which dates back to the 2006 NFL season (Brady began his pro career in 2000), no quarterback has earned a higher overall grade on PFF’s 1–100 scale than Tom Brady’s current 99.3 mark. This grade is compiled based on his game-by-game, throw-by-throw production—meaning that it’s fair to say that Brady has produced better cumulative season performances before, as he missed the 2016 season’s first four games. Regardless, Brady has clearly had an outstanding 2016 campaign and has arguably played the best football of his career.
Introducing PFF’s 2016 All-Pro Teamhttps://t.co/3WcaYpoxkX
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 7, 2017
Brady ranks among the top five of quarterbacks in adjusted completion rate this season, as well as passer rating on deep balls, when under pressure and from a clean pocket. Meanwhile, Texans QB Brock Osweiler has earned the third-lowest grade (41.7) among all qualifying quarterbacks this season—only Rams rookie Jared Goff and benched 49ers QB Blaine Gabbert graded lower. Expect to see an enormous disparity at the quarterback position in this AFC Divisional Round matchup.
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons
In the Week 6 matchup between Seattle and Atlanta, Falcons WR Julio Jones caught three of his five targets into Seahawks CB Richard Sherman’s coverage for 40 yards and an interception. Jones caught all four of his targets into the coverage of other Seattle defenders for 99 yards and a touchdown.
We’ll have to wait to see if Sherman shadows Jones in this NFC rematch, but the extent to which the Seahawks are able to keep Jones (the No. 2 WR in PFF’s grades, at 92.6) and Matt Ryan (the No. 2 QB, at 93.1) in check should be a major factor. Two other areas to watch: The Falcons own the No. 1 run-blocking grade in the NFL, while the Seahawks own the No. 1 run-defense grade. The winner of that battle will have a major leg up on Saturday. On the other side of the ball, Seattle has earned lowest team pass-blocking grade in the league this season, while Atlanta’s Vic Beasley leads all edge defenders with 16 sacks.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs
The Pittsburgh Steelers rank sixth in PFF’s team run-blocking grades this season, while RB Le’Veon Bell is second in the NFL with 64 missed tackles forced (carries and receptions). Meanwhile, Kansas City ranks 25th in team run-defense grades.
The Chiefs’ strong pass rush against the Steelers’ excellent pass protection (Pittsburgh’s line allowed just 14 sacks all year, third-fewest in the league) is an important matchup in this one, but it’s worth noting that Kansas City has had some trouble defending the run this season. The Steelers, meanwhile, have arguably the best running back in the league in Bell, and an offensive line that is solid across the board in both pass protection and the running game. On the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh’s defense will have some playmakers to contend with in Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and rookie WR/KR/PR/RB Tyreek Hill.
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys
Green Bay’s offensive line ranked No. 1 in pass-blocking efficiency during the regular season, while Dallas ranked just 25th in PFF’s team pass-rushing grades.
In the Cowboys’ 30-16 Week 6 win over the Packers, the Dallas defense got pressure on Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers just five times over 45 dropbacks—an incredibly low rate. The Cowboys were still able to force a very poor outing from Rodgers—and come away with the win—but it’s reasonable to expect that the Packers’ quarterback will again have plenty of time to throw in the rematch against Dallas.
For as good as the Cowboys’ pass coverage has been this season (second in PFF’s team coverage grades), their pass-rushing unit has been a hidden weakness all year. That said, Dallas could have a very tough time generating pressure against a quarterback who has played at an extremely high level since that loss to the Cowboys (overall on the season, Rodgers ranks third among QBs in terms of overall grade, at 92.8).
The Cowboys’ offensive line is one of the best in the league, and rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott have both produced great seasons (and Green Bay has experienced some issues in pass coverage this year). Dallas could, however, face a tough task in trying to keep pace with the high-powered Packers’ offense in this NFC Divisional Round game.