Published: Dec. 7, 2018 at 11:55 a.m.
Updated: Dec. 12, 2018 at 12:12 p.m.

Next Gen Stats: Hidden numbers that defined Week 13

Want to see the numbers behind the numbers? Nick Shook dives into a fresh batch of Next Gen Stats and identifies figures that helped shape Week 13.

7 Photos Total

  • While Seattle found early success this season by negating opposing pass rushes with quick throws, Russell Wilson has since landed among the league's best in airing it out. Wilson has thrown deep (20-plus air yards) on 14.4 percent of his attempts, the fourth-highest rate in the NFL among 34 qualifying quarterbacks. He's thrown a touchdown on 25.5 percent of such attempts, with 27.7 percent of them directed toward end zone targets. As a result, he's posted a 127.4 passer rating on deep passes, the second-highest in the NFL. His completion percentage proves his true excellence, with his 51.1 percent mark landing 16.1 percent above his expected completion percentage of 35. For reference, the NFL average is 0.2 percent below expectation, proving Wilson truly is elite in such situations. 7

    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Russell Wilson going deep

    While Seattle found early success this season by negating opposing pass rushes with quick throws, Russell Wilson has since landed among the league's best in airing it out. Wilson has thrown deep (20-plus air yards) on 14.4 percent of his attempts, the fourth-highest rate in the NFL among 34 qualifying quarterbacks. He's thrown a touchdown on 25.5 percent of such attempts, with 27.7 percent of them directed toward end zone targets. As a result, he's posted a 127.4 passer rating on deep passes, the second-highest in the NFL. His completion percentage proves his true excellence, with his 51.1 percent mark landing 16.1 percent above his expected completion percentage of 35. For reference, the NFL average is 0.2 percent below expectation, proving Wilson truly is elite in such situations.

  • Andrew Luck and the Colts ran into a brick wall last week in the form of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and things don't get much easier this week against Houston. The Texans have posted the fourth-lowest pressure rate (24 percent of drop backs) but have the strength on the edge in J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. The duo has a combined 70 QB pressures, fifth-most by an edge-rushing duo in the NFL. They're also the second- and third-fastest in average time to sack in the NFL, with Watt at 3.66 seconds and Clowney at 3.76 seconds. Only Kansas City's Dee Ford is faster at 3.65 seconds. Luck appears headed for another rough day after posting a lowly 43.2 passer rating while facing pressure on 32.7 percent of drop backs in Week 13, nearly triple his usual rate of just 13.3. 6

    Associated Press

    Luck vs. Texans pass rush

    Andrew Luck and the Colts ran into a brick wall last week in the form of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and things don't get much easier this week against Houston. The Texans have posted the fourth-lowest pressure rate (24 percent of drop backs) but have the strength on the edge in J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. The duo has a combined 70 QB pressures, fifth-most by an edge-rushing duo in the NFL. They're also the second- and third-fastest in average time to sack in the NFL, with Watt at 3.66 seconds and Clowney at 3.76 seconds. Only Kansas City's Dee Ford is faster at 3.65 seconds. Luck appears headed for another rough day after posting a lowly 43.2 passer rating while facing pressure on 32.7 percent of drop backs in Week 13, nearly triple his usual rate of just 13.3.

  • Dallas has experienced a remarkable turnaround since acquiring wideout Amari Cooper in Week 8, but another major factor for recent success has been the play of its young linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. Vander Esch has been one of the most effective tacklers in the NFL, with the rookie making a tackle on 18.4 percent of snaps (highest in the NFL, minimum 300 snaps). Smith has found his own prosperity in rushing the passer, pressuring opposing quarterbacks on 15.3 percent of pass rushes, 11th-highest in the NFL among linebackers with at least 50 pass rushes. Smith's sack rate on pass rushes, 6.8 percent, is the second-highest sack rate among the same group of linebackers. They'll need this type of production against the athletic, quick-firing Carson Wentz in Week 14. 5

    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    Young 'backers propelling the 'Boys

    Dallas has experienced a remarkable turnaround since acquiring wideout Amari Cooper in Week 8, but another major factor for recent success has been the play of its young linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. Vander Esch has been one of the most effective tacklers in the NFL, with the rookie making a tackle on 18.4 percent of snaps (highest in the NFL, minimum 300 snaps). Smith has found his own prosperity in rushing the passer, pressuring opposing quarterbacks on 15.3 percent of pass rushes, 11th-highest in the NFL among linebackers with at least 50 pass rushes. Smith's sack rate on pass rushes, 6.8 percent, is the second-highest sack rate among the same group of linebackers. They'll need this type of production against the athletic, quick-firing Carson Wentz in Week 14.

  • Patrick Mahomes' success has come from a number of factors, including Andy Reid's openness to adding new, unconventional wrinkles and Mahomes' rare arm. But he's also been excellent because of his ability to make plays outside of the pocket, ranking sixth in yards per attempt outside the tackle box (7.8), first in touchdown passes thrown from outside the box (eight) and ninth in passer rating in such a scenario (94.8). But in Week 14, he runs into a defense that thrives against passers outside of the pocket. Baltimore ranks second in opposing completion percentage on attempts outside of the box (37.5), first in yards per attempt (3.7), is tied for second in touchdowns allowed (one) and ranks fourth in opposing passer rating (55.7). Immovable object, meet unstoppable force. 4

    Associated Press

    Mahomes throwing outside the box

    Patrick Mahomes' success has come from a number of factors, including Andy Reid's openness to adding new, unconventional wrinkles and Mahomes' rare arm. But he's also been excellent because of his ability to make plays outside of the pocket, ranking sixth in yards per attempt outside the tackle box (7.8), first in touchdown passes thrown from outside the box (eight) and ninth in passer rating in such a scenario (94.8). But in Week 14, he runs into a defense that thrives against passers outside of the pocket. Baltimore ranks second in opposing completion percentage on attempts outside of the box (37.5), first in yards per attempt (3.7), is tied for second in touchdowns allowed (one) and ranks fourth in opposing passer rating (55.7). Immovable object, meet unstoppable force.

  • Philip Rivers has quietly produced one of the best seasons of his career, so much that it's comparable to the last three quarterbacks aged 37 or older to win MVP. He made his loudest statement of 2018 by orchestrating a 33-30 comeback win over the Steelers on Sunday night, introducing the nation to the very legitimate Chargers. He could have an even better go of things in Week 14, when he goes from the AFC North division leader to its coldest team in Cincinnati. The Bengals rank in the bottom 10 of the NFL in four Next Gen opposing passer rating categories: All throws (100.5), quick throws (110.6), tight window throws (94.2) and deep throws (102.3). Even when blitzing, they're still allowing a 104.5 passer rating. Rivers, on the other hand, thrives in all these situations, ranking in the top 10 in all those aforementioned categories except against the blitz. Los Angeles has gotten a lot of rain, after all, and this new L.A. Rivers seems primed to flow. 3

    Associated Press

    Rivers ready to flow

    Philip Rivers has quietly produced one of the best seasons of his career, so much that it's comparable to the last three quarterbacks aged 37 or older to win MVP. He made his loudest statement of 2018 by orchestrating a 33-30 comeback win over the Steelers on Sunday night, introducing the nation to the very legitimate Chargers. He could have an even better go of things in Week 14, when he goes from the AFC North division leader to its coldest team in Cincinnati. The Bengals rank in the bottom 10 of the NFL in four Next Gen opposing passer rating categories: All throws (100.5), quick throws (110.6), tight window throws (94.2) and deep throws (102.3). Even when blitzing, they're still allowing a 104.5 passer rating. Rivers, on the other hand, thrives in all these situations, ranking in the top 10 in all those aforementioned categories except against the blitz. Los Angeles has gotten a lot of rain, after all, and this new L.A. Rivers seems primed to flow.

  • Week 14's marquee matchup between the Rams and Bears features the league's top two candidates for Defensive Player of the Year in Los Angeles' Aaron Donald and Chicago's Khalil Mack. Each rank in the top five in pressure rate among those playing their position, with Donald landing at the top among defensive tackles, registering a pressure on 13.4 percent of pass rushes. Mack is fifth in the NFL among edge defensive linemen, pressuring opposing quarterbacks on 13.1 percent of pass rushes. Both are well above the league averages, and both rank in the top 10 in sack rate, with Donald's 4.2 percent ranking first and Mack's 3.1 percent ranking ninth. This game will likely come down to how well each can do their jobs, and the numbers say it'll be a close call. 2

    Associated Press

    Elite rushers meet

    Week 14's marquee matchup between the Rams and Bears features the league's top two candidates for Defensive Player of the Year in Los Angeles' Aaron Donald and Chicago's Khalil Mack. Each rank in the top five in pressure rate among those playing their position, with Donald landing at the top among defensive tackles, registering a pressure on 13.4 percent of pass rushes. Mack is fifth in the NFL among edge defensive linemen, pressuring opposing quarterbacks on 13.1 percent of pass rushes. Both are well above the league averages, and both rank in the top 10 in sack rate, with Donald's 4.2 percent ranking first and Mack's 3.1 percent ranking ninth. This game will likely come down to how well each can do their jobs, and the numbers say it'll be a close call.

  • There's a long-running joke among the "Around the NFL" writers mocking the theory of gradual decline, in which people expect players such as Tom Brady (or in a cross-sport reference, LeBron James) to gradually get worse as they get older. You can't run from Father Time forever, but these athletes are defying such conventional thought. Brady, though, has seen a bit of a slide in recent weeks, attributable more to the statistical situation than a mythical gradual decline. Against the blitz in Weeks 1-7, Brady was lights out, completing 69.2 percent of his passes (27-for-39) for 395 yards, a 125.5 passer rating and a 4-1 TD-to-INT ratio. Since then, he's completed 48.4 percent of such attempts (15-for-31) for 206 yards, a 56.7 passer rating and a 0-1 TD-INT ratio. Fortunately for the Patriots, Brady has been pressured the least in the NFL since Week 8, making this sample size less concerning because he doesn't face it all that much. No sweat, Pats fans. 1

    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    Brady back to earth

    There's a long-running joke among the "Around the NFL" writers mocking the theory of gradual decline, in which people expect players such as Tom Brady (or in a cross-sport reference, LeBron James) to gradually get worse as they get older. You can't run from Father Time forever, but these athletes are defying such conventional thought. Brady, though, has seen a bit of a slide in recent weeks, attributable more to the statistical situation than a mythical gradual decline. Against the blitz in Weeks 1-7, Brady was lights out, completing 69.2 percent of his passes (27-for-39) for 395 yards, a 125.5 passer rating and a 4-1 TD-to-INT ratio. Since then, he's completed 48.4 percent of such attempts (15-for-31) for 206 yards, a 56.7 passer rating and a 0-1 TD-INT ratio. Fortunately for the Patriots, Brady has been pressured the least in the NFL since Week 8, making this sample size less concerning because he doesn't face it all that much. No sweat, Pats fans.