From a half-full point of view, nine teams scored at least 30 points during the last two weeks after only occurring twice in the previous eight weeks. But the half-empty reality is that the five lowest scoring weeks have been submitted in the last six weeks. We haven’t seen the NFL weekly PPG average at least match the season-long average since Week 6. And there is a correlation between deep passing (throws traveling at least 20 yards). During the last six weeks, the deep passing attempt rate has declined by 14% from the first six weeks. It’s been followed by a 39% decline in deep TD strikes, only a 7% drop in deep INTs, a 10% decline in YPA, and a 10% drop in the weekly PPG average.
The same chart depicted in previous weeks is provided below. It’s been updated and the weekly franchise PPG average has been included:
The deep target rate for Week 12 (11.3%) is the highest it’s been since Week 9 and deep TDs (12) are the most since Week 6. However, the added aggression brought about the most deep INTs of the season (11). Qualified outside cornerbacks easily stood as the top performing position group from Week 12. They lowered their season-long target passer rating (TPR) by two full points. And average air yardage/coverage snap (AY/CS) allowed fell for each position group in a sixth straight week.
You’ll see a number of coverage metrics throughout this series. The following chart provides the full names for the acronyms and the coverage performance numbers for each position group through Week 12:
To magnify their importance in processing the matchup data, familiarity with these abbreviations are key. The full names of the data points in the headers of the data table above will not be written out in full within the specific matchups. Instead, you’ll find the following acronyms frequently used whenever referencing defensive coverage statistics:
Yards Allowed Per Coverage Snap = YPCS
Fantasy Points Allowed Per Coverage Snap = FP/CS
Air Yards Allowed Per Coverage Snap = AY/CS
Targeted Passer Rating (i.e., Passer Rating on Targets into Coverage) = TPR
Offensive abbreviations used when referring to QBs/RBs/WRs/TEs:
FPs/Dropback = FP/Db
FPs/Route = FP/Rt
FPs/Touch = FP/Tch
Yards/Route Run = YPRR
Air Yards/Attempt = AY/Att
Air Yards/Target = AY/Tgt
Yards/Target = YPT
Targeted Passer Rating (i.e., QB Passer Rating When Targeting Receiver) = TPR
If you’d like to learn more about/refresh yourself with each of the defensive coverage shells and other relevant schematic details mentioned throughout this series, utilize the following resources:
*51-61 (46%); 10-4 in Week 12
Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) at New Orleans Saints
Indianapolis Colts (-8.5) at Houston Texans
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-11.0) at Atlanta Falcons
Arizona Cardinals (-7.5) at Chicago Bears
Minnesota Vikings (-7.0) at Detroit Lions
Los Angeles Chargers (+3.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
New York Giants (+5.0) at Miami Dolphins
Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) at New York Jets
Washington Football Team (+2.5) at Las Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Rams (-12.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Baltimore Ravens (-4.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) at Seattle Seahawks
Denver Broncos (+10.0) at Kansas City Chiefs
New England Patriots (+3.0) at Buffalo Bills
*47-42 (53%); 10-4 in Week 12
Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints (Over 47.5)
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (Under 45.5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (Over 50.5)
Arizona Cardinals at Chicago Bears (Under 45.5)
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (Under 46.5)
Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals (Over 50.5)
New York Giants at Miami Dolphins (Under 41.0)
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets (Over 45.0)
Washington Football Team at Las Vegas Raiders (Under 49.0)
Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville Jaguars (Under 47.5)
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (Over 44.0)
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (Under 45.0)
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (Under 47.0)
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (Over 43.5)
*67-41 (62%); 11-3 in Week 11
Dallas Cowboys (-200) at New Orleans Saints
Indianapolis Colts (-410) at Houston Texans
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-575) at Atlanta Falcons
Arizona Cardinals (-290) at Chicago Bears
Minnesota Vikings (-300) at Detroit Lions
Los Angeles Chargers (+150) at Cincinnati Bengals
Miami Dolphins (-210) vs. New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles (-265) at New York Jets
Washington Football Team (+120) at Las Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Rams (-675) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Baltimore Ravens (-210) at Pittsburgh Steelers
San Francisco 49ers (-165) at Seattle Seahawks
Kansas City Chiefs (-450) vs. Denver Broncos
New England Patriots (+130) at Buffalo Bills
Matchups to Target
Jerry Jeudy, DEN ($5.4K DK | $6.1K FD) vs. L’Jarius Sneed, KC
The late games of Week 13 feature four of the top defenses in the league. Including Kansas City within that statement early in the season would draw a few giggles. But they’ve transformed that defense into a powerhouse. Over the last four weeks, the Chiefs are surrendering only 68.9 FPG to entire offenses (fourth-fewest). In all honesty, I’m not even in love with Jerry Jeudy’s matchup in Week 13. But, based on the matchups, he’s the only one with a clear path to sniffing semi-reliable production.
Kansas City is using the third-highest rate of Cover 2 and 10th-highest of Cover 6. Over the last two weeks, the number of Cover 2 snaps utilized by KC dwarfs all other teams. During his 21-game career, Jeudy is generating 0.55 FP/Rt (the most), 3.03 YPRR (the most), and 14.6 YPT (third-most) when opposing defenses field a Cover 2. On 15% of his career routes, Jeudy has created 24% of his receptions, 26% of his yardage, and 33% of his TDs against Cover 2.
Final notes on Denver
Teddy Bridgewater ($5.4K/$7.1K) has produced the second-highest passer rating under pressure this season (81.8). When working against Cover 2 over the last three years, Bridgewater has fabricated 0.31 FP/Db (16th-most) and a 96.5 passer rating (12th-highest). But he’s only thrown two TDs vs. two INTs. Between Courtland Sutton ($5.1K/$6.0K) and Tim Patrick ($4.6K/$5.7K), they have zero TDs scored against Cover 2, and neither rank inside the top-45 qualified WRs in FP/Rt.
What about the TEs? Noah Fant’s ($4.4K/$5.9K) 0.26 FP/Rt when facing Cover 2 is the ninth-lowest among qualified TEs. And he’s scored zero TDs on 141 routes. Albert Okwuegbunam ($3.1K/$4.9K) has run 22 career Cover 2 routes. Can we count on the rushing duo of Melvin Gordon III ($5.3K/$6.3K and Javonte Williams ($5.5K/$5.7K)? Kansas City is limiting opposing RBs to the fourth-fewest FPG (11.0).
Final notes on Kansas City
When I mentioned that Jeudy offered the clearest path to reliable production, it was a statement that did not include KCs Big 3: Patrick Mahomes II ($7.7K/$8.3K), Tyreek Hill ($8.4K/$8.5K), and Travis Kelce ($7.3K/$7.3K). All three are as close to being immune to any of the coverage schemes NFL defenses employ as you’ll see at their respective positions. And it’s likely to be these three that secure this win for the Chiefs. I will not attempt to convince anyone toward or away from exposure this week. It’s a very difficult matchup, but these three return that predicament upon the Broncos’ defense with the most difficult challenge faced by any of these four defenses.
Now that Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($5.8K/$6.3K) is back to full health, he could provide a significant boost. However, Denver is holding opposing RBs to the fewest goal-to-go attempts/game (1.09) and red zone touches/game (2.64). And it’s truly anyone’s guess how the WR rotation shakes out being Hill. Byron Pringle ($3.1K/$5.3K), Mecole Hardman ($3.7K/$5.5K), Josh Gordon ($3.0K/$5.0K), and Demarcus Robinson ($3.0K/$5.1K) could possibly rotate in-and-out in equal stretches all game.
This matchup offers absolutely zero standout matchups on the positive end of the spectrum. I could point out a couple difficult ones, but I’ll just touch on them in Final Notes.
Final notes on New England
The Patriots will go as far as their defense carries them. We can count on a couple scoring drives from Mac Jones ($5.3K/$6.8K), but he is not going to rock the Earth on its axis if forced to bring his team back from a significant deficit. Can we trust the RBs? If Rhamondre Stevenson ($5.0K/$5.9K) had complete control over this backfield, he would be a plug-and-play option on a weekly basis, without hesitation. He combines the size-and-quickness combination to exceed in even the most difficult spots. That’s not to say Damien Harris ($5.9K/$6.0K) is without skill — only that Stevenson is a pretty rare talent.
Outside of allowing Jonathan Taylor to go ballistic on them in Week 11, Buffalo has been a stout run defense this season. But I view the run game from the Pats as their path to victory. And I do see New England stealing this game on the road. Brandon Bolden ($4.2K/$4.9K) should be spending 100% of his time on kickoffs and punts. If he touches the ball even once on offense, it’s a missed opportunity with extremely low chances of success.
Hunter Henry ($4.3K/$5.6K) may face the steepest incline toward success on his team. The Bills have given up next to nothing to TEs, thanks to the top safety duo in the NFL (Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer). Losing Tre'Davious White is a devastating loss to Buffalo. But Levi Wallace and Dane Jackson have been groomed for this type of challenge. And Taron Johnson has been one of the top-five nickel corners all season. Jakobi Meyers ($5.0K/$5.7K), Kendrick Bourne ($5.2K/$5.8K), and Nelson Agholor ($3.7K/$5.5K) will not be provided with a single inch of space.
Final notes on Buffalo
New England has outscored their opponents 211-63 over their last six games. And it’s a massive concern for Josh Allen ($7.9K/$8.8K) that Bill Belichick has upped his usage of Cover 2 and Cover 3 in recent weeks. Those are the same coverages that the Jaguars used to completely shut down Buffalo’s offense in Week 9. Over his last 43 games, Allen has thrown nine TDs vs. 15 INTs against those schemes. His FP/Db faceplant by 27% and 32% when up against Cover 2 and Cover 3, respectively, over that time.
We already know the Bills’ ground is never to be trusted. Matt Breida ($4.3K/$5.8K) does appear to have secured lead responsibilities. But we still need a lot more evidence before the trust word can be tossed around. As for Devin Singletary ($4.3K/$5.8K)… no comment. Stefon Diggs ($8.0K/$8.3K) was the closest toward being added as a Target in this matchup. J.C. Jackson altered that approach. Jackson is simply a different player this season. He and Kyle Van Noy should be squarely within the group being considered for the NFL Defensive MVP Award.
Emmanuel Sanders ($4.6K/$5.8K) is a big-time fade with Jalen Mills in coverage. After Diggs, Cole Beasley ($4.4K/$5.7K) and Gabriel Davis ($3.3K/$4.8K) have the best chances for success against Myles Bryant and Shaun Wade, respectively. With strong safety Kyle Dugger landing on the COVID list, Dawson Knox ($4.7K/$5.9K) could also see some space. However, this entire offense will revolve around Allen’s pre- and post-snap coverage read success.