Kickoff Saturday, Jan 21st 4:30pm Eastern
Jaguars ( 21.5) at
Chiefs ( 30.0)
Jaguars Run D11th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per carry
Chiefs Run O17th DVOA/7th Yards per carry
Jaguars Pass D30th DVOA/20th Yards allowed per pass
Chiefs Pass O1st DVOA/2nd Yards per pass
Chiefs Run D17th DVOA/14th Yards allowed per carry
Jaguars Run O20th DVOA/9th Yards per carry
Chiefs Pass D22nd DVOA/5th Yards allowed per pass
Jaguars Pass O6th DVOA/19th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By Hilow >>
- The highest game total of the slate and also the only game where both teams rank in the bottom half of the league in defensive DVOA.
- The Chiefs were the only team with a positive pass rate over expectation (PROE) value in every game played this season.
- The Jaguars had the narrowest range of PROE values of any team in the league (smallest standard deviation – most likely team in the league to have game environment influence their play calling).
- These two teams rank sixth (KC) and ninth (JAX) in first half pace of play.
- Mecole Hardman remained a DNP in both Wednesday and Thursday’s practices.
- Skyy Moore returned to a full participant in Thursday’s session.
How jacksonville Will Try To Win ::
First off, Jacksonville had the narrowest range of PROE values this season. That tells us that they are the team most influenced by game environment in their offensive play-calling tendencies. That is neither good nor bad news for the eventual outcome of this game but is nonetheless extremely important to understand as we work through how to attack these spots for DFS purposes. Those tendencies bleed over into pace of play as the Jaguars finished the regular season ranked ninth in first half pace of play, ninth in pace of play when trailing by seven or more points, but 24th in pace of play when leading by seven or more points. Those two metrics combine to give us a clearer picture of how the Jaguars approach games when compared to simply looking at their overall rush-pass rates or situation neutral pace of play numbers (14th in overall pass rate at 58.93% and ninth in situation neutral pace of play). The final thing to consider for the Jaguars is a matchup with a Chiefs defense that utilized man coverages at a rate almost double the league average this season (38%) – more on this in the respective matchups sections below.
Since we can confidently expect a pass balanced approach from the Jaguars until otherwise forced, expect Jacksonville to start the game with a near even split in rush attempts versus pass attempts. That’s important because it means more early volume for a borderline workhorse back in a solid on-paper matchup, as lead back Travis Etienne has taken on an elite snap rate role since the departure of James Robinson – playing 71% or more of the offensive snaps in nine of 11 games over that timeframe (78% or higher in six of 11). JaMycal Hasty should continue as the lone change of pace back on an offense that operates primarily from 11-personnel, with almost zero 21-personnel usage and only a handful of snaps each week from 12-personnel. While Etienne’s pass game involvement looks non-terrible on paper, the truth of the matter is that he has seen more than a modest three targets only three times all season, and has not surpassed three targets once since the departure of James Robinson. As such, think of any volume through the air as floor-boosting instead of ceiling-enhancing. The pure rushing matchup yields a slightly below average 4.26 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Kansas City defense holding opposing backfields to a non-terrible 4.29 yards per carry this season.
The Chiefs defense operates primarily from straight-up man coverage looks behind a defensive front generating pressure at the league’s fifth highest rate. That is likely to be a significant issue for Trevor Lawrence, who ranks as PFF’s 36th passer when under pressure this season (of quarterbacks with five or more starts). That should also lead to Lawrence relying on the players that can win within the first five yards of the line of scrimmage, which for this year has been Christian Kirk for the Jaguars. Kirk’s 23.2% target market share jumps to almost 33% against man coverage this season. That said, his 1.89 fantasy points per target against man coverage this season ranks just 25th in the league as they are mostly shorter area targets than he has seen against zone coverages. Zay Jones and Evan Engram should also play nearly every offensive snap, while Marvin Jones Jr will likely cede some level of snaps to blocking tight end Chris Manhertz. From a pure matchup perspective, the edge lands with Christian Kirk, but we’ve seen head coach and offensive play caller Doug Pederson get more creative in scheming touches to all three of Zay Jones, Christian Kirk, and Evan Engram, over the second half of the season after the team picked up the scheme better. As in, any one of these three could be the primary benefactor in a given week.
How kansas city Will Try To Win ::
Kickoff Saturday, Jan 21st 8:15pm Eastern
Giants ( 20.75) at
Eagles ( 27.25)
Giants Run D32nd DVOA/31st Yards allowed per carry
Eagles Run O1st DVOA/12th Yards per carry
Giants Pass D22nd DVOA/18th Yards allowed per pass
Eagles Pass O6th DVOA/3rd Yards per pass
Eagles Run D19th DVOA/24th Yards allowed per carry
Giants Run O7th DVOA/5th Yards per carry
Eagles Pass D1st DVOA/1st Yards allowed per pass
Giants Pass O10th DVOA/29th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Eagles ruled out nickel corner Avonte Maddox, which should filter additional pass game usage towards the slot (albeit with a significant caveat that the field is likely not going to realize regarding the macro game environment).
- This game is one of the more nuanced games on the slate for the behind-the-scenes chess match that will likely occur between the offensive and defensive coordinators from each side (more below).
- Giants wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins will play after being limited in all three practices with a gnarly-looking ankle injury (low).
- The Eagles should move the ball well but will need to buck their recent trend of poor red zone touchdown rates (40% over their previous three games – yes, Gardner Minshew started two of those games, but the Eagles scored just one touchdown on five red zone trips the last time these two teams met, and Jalen Hurts played that game).
How new york Will Try To Win ::
There is a whole hell of a lot going on here regarding how we expect the Giants to try and win this one. On one hand, they completely threw everything we’ve come to know about the Giants squarely in our collective faces last week, running a game plan that consisted of a massive 16% pass rate over expectation value (PROE). For comparison, the Chiefs led the league this season at just under 11% and the Giants had just three games all season with a positive PROE value. Massive shift in game planning, to say the least. On the other hand, the Giants allowed the fifth most sacks this season and the Eagles narrowly missed the single season sack record, handily leading the league with 70 on the season. Furthermore, the Eagles rank first in both DVOA against the pass and yards allowed per pass attempt, while ranking a modest 19th in DVOA against the run and allowing the ninth most yards per carry this season. I’m not saying this is a given by any stretch, but if I were in Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka’s shoes here, I would 100% be looking to shorten this game through elevated rush rates, targeted and schemed passing on early downs designed to simultaneously reduce predictability and increase drive success rate, and a disruptive spy defense with unique blitz packages on defense. Again, that’s “Hilow’s game plan,” but is what makes the most sense for the Giants if they are to steal a victory away from the NFC’s top seed.
That game plan should theoretically involve heavy rates of Saquon Barkley involvement on offense, with additional opportunities schemed up for the All-World running back to get the ball through the air out of the backfield. Again, wide range of outcomes alert because we actually saw some dynamism from the Giants offense for the first time in the playoffs, but that’s what I would be drawing up here. Either way, most roads point to a return to a more run-balanced offense based around their elite running back, which should afford Barkley the opportunity to see elite volume in a non-prohibitive matchup. The pure rushing matchup yields an average 4.39 net-adjusted line yards metric, but the true test will be forcing increased rates of man coverage from a Philadelphia defense expected to run Cover-3 and Cover-4 base, which would serve to limit the rushing upside of both Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones. In order to do just that, the Giants will need to stay out of long down and distance-to-go situations which points directly back to my assertion that New York will need to generate more dynamic play calling through early down schemed passing and pre-snap misdirection. Otherwise, consider the ceiling capped on both Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones. Matt Breida should continue in the pure change of pace role for an offense that typically runs minimal 21-personnel.
The fantasy expectations (and potential viability) for the four primary pass-catchers from the Giants vary greatly depending on what game environment they find themselves in, likely to be influenced heavily by what coverage schemes the Eagles show them (which, as we’ve explored in both this write-up and in the Jaguars/Chiefs write-up, can be influenced by the Giants as well). Should the Giants find early success in avoiding predictability on the ground (which would lead to increased rush efficiency), we’re likely to see increased rates of Cover-1 man from the Eagles based on their year-to-date tendencies – this would be a significant boost to Richie James in the slot, particularly considering nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox was ruled out. If the Eagles are able to settle into increased rates of Cover-3 and Cover-4, Isaiah Hodgins would be the likeliest to succeed as the far-and-away top option against zone coverage this season, per PFF. From a macro perspective, expect the Giants personnel groupings to be at first dictated by their game plan and then affected by the game environment, which should mean we see elevated 12-personnel rates to start. Slayton has a difficult task at hand regardless of where the game environment takes this offense, performing poorly against both zone and man coverage this season as New York’s primary downfield option. Finally, rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger has seen a maximum of five targets this season and should be considered a touchdown-dependent dart throw regardless of the game environment.
How philadelphia Will Try To Win ::
Kickoff Sunday, Jan 22nd 3:00pm Eastern
Bengals ( 23) at
Bills ( 27.5)
Bengals Run D14th DVOA/9th Yards allowed per carry
Bills Run O11th DVOA/2nd Yards per carry
Bengals Pass D12th DVOA/29th Yards allowed per pass
Bills Pass O2nd DVOA/4th Yards per pass
Bills Run D3rd DVOA/14th Yards allowed per carry
Bengals Run O4th DVOA/29th Yards per carry
Bills Pass D9th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per pass
Bengals Pass O7th DVOA/16th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By Mike Johnson >>
- A highly anticipated rematch of the Week 17 game that was unexpectedly cut short due to Damar Hamlin’s scary medical situation.
- These teams are both in the top 3 of the NFL in pass rate over expectation (PROE) and top 10 in situation-neutral pace of play.
- The Bills have scored 30+ points in four straight games, while the Bengals have surpassed 30 points only once since Week 12.
- The explosiveness of both offenses gives this game the potential for things to snowball into a wild back-and-forth affair.
How Cincinnati Will Try To Win ::
The Bengals offense gets most of the attention, but it is their defense that has been especially key in their second-half surge this season. The offense has only scored 30+ points once since Week 12 (although they have scored 20+ in every game since Week 9), while the defense has held five of their last seven opponents to fewer than 20 points. However, part of that defensive success should be attributed to the competition they have faced during their recent stretch. During their nine-game winning streak, the Bengals have faced the following quarterbacks::
- Tyler Huntley
- Anthony Brown
- Mac Jones
- Tom Brady (scored 23 points)
- Deshaun Watson
- Patrick Mahomes (scored 24 points)
- Ryan Tannehill
- Kenny Pickett (scored 30 points)
- PJ Walker
That’s not exactly a murderer’s row of quarterbacks and Josh Allen and the Bills, at home, should provide a different level of test for them. This should also have an impact on the Bengals offense, as they are often dependent on their opponent to push them in their aggressiveness and approach.
Cincinnati has the ability to be a balanced unit, ranking top-10 in both rushing and passing DVOA. However, they rank 29th in the league in yards per carry and are facing a high-end Buffalo run defense that ranks 3rd in run defense DVOA. While the Bills pass defense is very good in its own right, mounting injuries in their secondary this year have left them more vulnerable than some will realize. Last week they were pushed to the brim by Skylar Thompson and the Dolphins, who could very well have pulled off the upset if not for some untimely drops from their receiving corps. Considering the opportunities the Dolphins were able to create for themselves with a sub-replacement level quarterback and a narrow distribution of explosive options in their receiving game, it stands to reason that the Bengals have the opportunity to unleash their passing game in this matchup. The Bengals rank 2nd in the NFL in pass rate over expectation and will know they need to put up points to have a chance against the Bills, so I would expect this to be the most aggressive game plan we have seen from Cincinnati in quite a few weeks as far as pass rate and tempo are concerned. In the shortened Week 17 matchup between these teams, Joe Burrow completed his first four passes for 52 yards with all of those targets coming in the middle of the field to slot receiver Tyler Boyd, tight end Hayden Hurst, and an intermediate route to Tee Higgins. This approach makes sense against the high amount of shell coverages that Buffalo tends to play and the heavy attention they will give to Ja’Marr Chase entering this game. The Bills defense blitzes at the lowest rate of any remaining playoff team, meaning that designed screen passes will not be effective or necessary and Joe Burrow should have plenty of time to throw, with an emphasis on the intermediate areas of the field early in the game and slowly working in some deep shots as the Bills are forced to adjust. We can also expect some schemed looks to Ja’Marr Chase in the quick passing game to give him a chance to make plays after the catch.
How Buffalo Will Try To Win ::
Kickoff Sunday, Jan 22nd 6:30pm Eastern
Cowboys ( 21.25) at
49ers ( 24.75)
Cowboys Run D5th DVOA/17th Yards allowed per carry
49ers Run O13th DVOA/10th Yards per carry
Cowboys Pass D3rd DVOA/12th Yards allowed per pass
49ers Pass O3rd DVOA/5th Yards per pass
49ers Run D2nd DVOA/2nd Yards allowed per carry
Cowboys Run O10th DVOA/18th Yards per carry
49ers Pass D5th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per pass
Cowboys Pass O13th DVOA/10th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- This is the only matchup in the Divisional Round of the playoffs that is not a rematch of a regular season game.
- Both of these offenses have been incredibly explosive during the second half of the season.
- Each team can expect a huge step up in competition after dominating the first week of the playoffs.
- The Cowboys will have a decision to make in how they want to attack the 49ers dominant run defense.
How dallas Will Try To Win ::
The Cowboys absolutely dominated the Bucs on Monday night as they exposed the shortcomings of a Tampa team that frankly did not deserve to be in the playoffs, and were only there by default from the lowly NFC South. The Bucs have the worst running game in the NFL, which means they had to lean heavily on the pass against a ferocious Dallas pass rush and secondary in a predictable manner – not a recipe for success. While the Dallas offense put on a show on the scoreboard, the manner in which they were able to play must also be examined in trying to gauge how that carries over into this week’s Divisional Round matchup with the 49ers. The Cowboys started off the game last week with an equal number of run and pass plays (15 each) prior to the two-minute warning. This matches up with the way Dallas often approaches games by leaning on their running game and building opportunities through the air by leveraging that success on the ground. However, this week they face a dominant 49ers run defense that ranks 2nd in both DVOA and yards per carry allowed. The approach Dallas takes with their play-calling early in this game will be very interesting and should have a huge effect on the way this game plays out. I would not expect the Cowboys to abandon the run completely – nor should they – but the most optimal approach would seem to be “flipping the script” a bit by using some play action and short area passing on early downs to set up the running game. The 49ers defense has teed off on teams who completely abandon the run, as a predictable approach lets incredibly athletic personnel pin their ears back. Still, teams who are smart enough not to bang their head into a brick wall on the ground generally have a greater chance of success.
Another thing that will be interesting to see for the Cowboys offense will be how they deploy their running backs. We are in the playoffs now and it is time to win or go home, playing on the road against the hottest team in football. Tony Pollard’s efficiency and explosiveness jump off the screen in film and the page in the box score when compared to Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys were able to keep their usual rotation in the backfield on Monday as they dominated the Bucs, but this week against the 49ers they will likely have no such luxury and will have to get their best players on the field to have a chance. Dalton Schultz and CeeDee Lamb are the top options for Dak Prescott in the passing game, and teams continue to attack San Francisco through the air. Charvarious Ward has been an elite corner for most of the season but was roasted by DK Metcalf in the first half last week. On the other side, Deommodore Lenoir has been tested often as teams look to attack the 49ers opposite where Ward is lined up. Lamb has been used more this season in games where the Cowboys are pushed, and this week seems to fit the bill. Lamb is often used all over formations and the Cowboys scheme him the ball when the game plan calls for it, and we should expect him to be an integral part of what they do on Sunday.