Published: Jan. 4, 2019 at 01:03 p.m.
Updated: Jan. 4, 2019 at 03:31 p.m.

Next Gen Stats: Hidden figures ahead of Wild Card Weekend

Want to see the numbers behind the numbers? Nick Shook dives into a fresh batch of Next Gen Stats and identifies figures that could shape Wild Card Weekend.

7 Photos Total

  • When one thinks Houston Texans, J.J. Watt comes to mind and for good reason. But there’s also Jadeveon Clowney, and together they form one of the most formidable pass-rushing duos in the NFL. The two have combined for 102 pressures this season (third-most of any edge duo), with Watt’s 57 pressures (sixth-best) leading the way. They also both land in the top five in average time to sack, with Watt coming in at second with an average of 3.61 seconds (16 sacks) and Clowney third at 3.73 seconds (9.0 sacks). Together, they’ll present quite a challenge for the Colts' stellar offensive line. 7

    NFL

    Playoff (edge) pressure

    When one thinks Houston Texans, J.J. Watt comes to mind and for good reason. But there’s also Jadeveon Clowney, and together they form one of the most formidable pass-rushing duos in the NFL. The two have combined for 102 pressures this season (third-most of any edge duo), with Watt’s 57 pressures (sixth-best) leading the way. They also both land in the top five in average time to sack, with Watt coming in at second with an average of 3.61 seconds (16 sacks) and Clowney third at 3.73 seconds (9.0 sacks). Together, they’ll present quite a challenge for the Colts' stellar offensive line.

  • A quick look at the tape from Baltimore's first meeting with the Los Angeles Chargers makes two things clear: The Ravens' blitzes are effective, and the Chargers might not be equipped to stop them in Round Two. Baltimore blitzes at the third-highest rate in the NFL (38.5 percent) and ranks in the top five in completion percentage allowed (54.4, fourth), yards per attempt (6.1, fifth), TD-INT ratio (5-5, T-third), passer rating (71.0, fourth) and sacks (24, T-second). They allowed just a 2.5 passer rating on blitzes in Week 17 against Cleveland's Baker Mayfield, the lowest in a game since 2016 (minimum 10 attempts). Rivers has understandably struggled against the blitz, facing pressure on 36.3 percent of blitzes and getting sacked 12 times on blitzes. Surprisingly, though, he’s still posted positive TD-INT ratios in his last two seasons, and a passer rating of 93.3 in 2018. This will likely still be the key to victory for Baltimore against a leaky Chargers' interior line. 6

    Associated Press

    Stopping the Rivers

    A quick look at the tape from Baltimore's first meeting with the Los Angeles Chargers makes two things clear: The Ravens' blitzes are effective, and the Chargers might not be equipped to stop them in Round Two. Baltimore blitzes at the third-highest rate in the NFL (38.5 percent) and ranks in the top five in completion percentage allowed (54.4, fourth), yards per attempt (6.1, fifth), TD-INT ratio (5-5, T-third), passer rating (71.0, fourth) and sacks (24, T-second). They allowed just a 2.5 passer rating on blitzes in Week 17 against Cleveland's Baker Mayfield, the lowest in a game since 2016 (minimum 10 attempts). Rivers has understandably struggled against the blitz, facing pressure on 36.3 percent of blitzes and getting sacked 12 times on blitzes. Surprisingly, though, he’s still posted positive TD-INT ratios in his last two seasons, and a passer rating of 93.3 in 2018. This will likely still be the key to victory for Baltimore against a leaky Chargers' interior line.

  • The Chargers own a fantastic pass-rushing duo in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, but they both need to be on the field for it to be effective. When both are on the field, Los Angeles boasts a pressure rate that is 11 percentage points higher than when they're off it. Similar differences exist in sack rate (plus-2.4) and interception rate (plus-1.3). They'll meet quite a challenge in Lamar Jackson, who has made the Ravens into a legitimate contender with his arm and legs. Jackson has 17 scrambles for 129 rushing yards (7.6 yards per scramble) since taking over as the starter in Week 11, and that isn't accounting for his designed runs. The key will be forcing Jackson to throw on such scrambles, as he owns a significantly lower passer rating on attempts outside the numbers than otherwise. 5

    Associated Press

    Charging down on opponents

    The Chargers own a fantastic pass-rushing duo in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, but they both need to be on the field for it to be effective. When both are on the field, Los Angeles boasts a pressure rate that is 11 percentage points higher than when they're off it. Similar differences exist in sack rate (plus-2.4) and interception rate (plus-1.3). They'll meet quite a challenge in Lamar Jackson, who has made the Ravens into a legitimate contender with his arm and legs. Jackson has 17 scrambles for 129 rushing yards (7.6 yards per scramble) since taking over as the starter in Week 11, and that isn't accounting for his designed runs. The key will be forcing Jackson to throw on such scrambles, as he owns a significantly lower passer rating on attempts outside the numbers than otherwise.

  • Keenan Allen has aligned in the slot or out wide at an almost equal rate (340 snaps to 351 snaps), but his targets are much higher when lined up wide. Allen has been targeted on 35.7 percent of routes run from a wide alignment (48 receptions), and just 24.1 percent of routes run from the slot (47 receptions). The listed receptions difference shows that the alignment doesn't mean he'll be more productive -- just that he'll get more chances to make plays. The key difference: Five of his six receiving touchdowns were caught on routes run from a wide alignment. Good news for Baltimore: The Ravens are the only defense in the NFL to allow a completion percentage under 50 to players aligned wide. The passer rating allowed on targets to receivers lined up wide is the lowest in the league, too, at just 66.8 this season. 4

    NFL/Associated Press

    Allen's indicator

    Keenan Allen has aligned in the slot or out wide at an almost equal rate (340 snaps to 351 snaps), but his targets are much higher when lined up wide. Allen has been targeted on 35.7 percent of routes run from a wide alignment (48 receptions), and just 24.1 percent of routes run from the slot (47 receptions). The listed receptions difference shows that the alignment doesn't mean he'll be more productive -- just that he'll get more chances to make plays. The key difference: Five of his six receiving touchdowns were caught on routes run from a wide alignment. Good news for Baltimore: The Ravens are the only defense in the NFL to allow a completion percentage under 50 to players aligned wide. The passer rating allowed on targets to receivers lined up wide is the lowest in the league, too, at just 66.8 this season.

  • Philadelphia, while boasting an important place in American history, will be running into a situation in which the Eagles will no longer soar freely. Philadelphia has found success against opposing passers by relying on its base rush of four defenders to generate pressure, blitzing on just 20.7 percent of dropbacks (fifth lowest in NFL) and achieving a 28.1 pressure rate (second highest in NFL). But the Eagles are set to face a Bears line that is ferocious against base rushes, which has allowed their quarterback to shine. Chicago has allowed Mitch Trubisky to be pressured on just 15.4 percent of dropbacks versus four or fewer rushers this season, the lowest rate among 33 qualifying quarterbacks. In that same scenario, Trubisky is efficient, completing 71.1 percent of his attempts (third best in the NFL). The Eagles might need to act out of character to win this one -- or else. 3

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Denial of freedom?

    Philadelphia, while boasting an important place in American history, will be running into a situation in which the Eagles will no longer soar freely. Philadelphia has found success against opposing passers by relying on its base rush of four defenders to generate pressure, blitzing on just 20.7 percent of dropbacks (fifth lowest in NFL) and achieving a 28.1 pressure rate (second highest in NFL). But the Eagles are set to face a Bears line that is ferocious against base rushes, which has allowed their quarterback to shine. Chicago has allowed Mitch Trubisky to be pressured on just 15.4 percent of dropbacks versus four or fewer rushers this season, the lowest rate among 33 qualifying quarterbacks. In that same scenario, Trubisky is efficient, completing 71.1 percent of his attempts (third best in the NFL). The Eagles might need to act out of character to win this one -- or else.

  • Speaking of blitzes, Philadelphia's quarterbacks have been excellent against blitzes. Nick Foles boasts the best completion percentage (81.1), yards per attempt (9.2) and passer rating (132.2) in the NFL against the blitz. The problem for this week, though, is he's facing a team that doesn't blitz much, and when it does, it's effective. Chicago ranks second in TD-INT ratio allowed (4-5), third in sack rate (14.3) and passer rating allowed (70.5), fourth in yards per attempt (6.1) and fifth in pressure rate (38.6). Philadelphia will have to find another situation to exploit to win this weekend. 2

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Foles flying into trouble

    Speaking of blitzes, Philadelphia's quarterbacks have been excellent against blitzes. Nick Foles boasts the best completion percentage (81.1), yards per attempt (9.2) and passer rating (132.2) in the NFL against the blitz. The problem for this week, though, is he's facing a team that doesn't blitz much, and when it does, it's effective. Chicago ranks second in TD-INT ratio allowed (4-5), third in sack rate (14.3) and passer rating allowed (70.5), fourth in yards per attempt (6.1) and fifth in pressure rate (38.6). Philadelphia will have to find another situation to exploit to win this weekend.

  • We've seen the cream of the athletic crop perform incredible feats of speed, strength and agility this season. Tyreek Hill owned the crown for the first half of the season, and it made sense on tape. But then came Matt Breida. <a href="http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap3000000991766/Matt-Breida-darts-past-Bucs-defense-for-33-yard-gain">Breida's 33-yard run in Week 12</a> covered 53.7 total yards and had the chance to go for a massive gain had he not been forced out by Tampa Bay's Jordan Whitehead. Instead, it's best remembered for Breida's in-play achievement, in which he reached a max speed of 22.09 mph, the highest mark of any ball-carrier in the NFL for the entire season. Congrats, Matt. The Niners were far from playoff contention, but you've got this to put on your mantle. 1

    Perry Knotts/NFL

    Matt Breida, speed champion

    We've seen the cream of the athletic crop perform incredible feats of speed, strength and agility this season. Tyreek Hill owned the crown for the first half of the season, and it made sense on tape. But then came Matt Breida. Breida's 33-yard run in Week 12 covered 53.7 total yards and had the chance to go for a massive gain had he not been forced out by Tampa Bay's Jordan Whitehead. Instead, it's best remembered for Breida's in-play achievement, in which he reached a max speed of 22.09 mph, the highest mark of any ball-carrier in the NFL for the entire season. Congrats, Matt. The Niners were far from playoff contention, but you've got this to put on your mantle.