Each week, this column will take a critical look at key statistical trends to highlight pass rushing and tackle matchups to exploit and avoid. We'll be heavily relying on another great feature at FBG this season, the IDP Matchup Spreadsheet that will be generated by Aaron Rudnicki. That spreadsheet will contain weekly average statistical measures to help identify those defensive teams who are facing the best and worst opportunity as the season progresses. While this column will include analysis of tackle and pass rush opportunity and matchup data, it's only a fraction of the data available in the spreadsheet. We hope that the Matchup Spreadsheet and this column will join John Norton's weekly IDP projections, Doug Drinen's Matchup Analyzer Tool, and our customizable MyFBG function as useful tools to assist in making weekly line-up and waiver wire decisions.
You are very welcome to the final edition of the IDP Matchup column here at Footballguys in the 2020 season. I have been penning this defensive diary for the past several years and I am delighted to be able to share some tidbits to help you secure a league title come December.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Dave Larkin. I am a veteran IDP player and what some would call a diehard fan of this game of football that we all love so much.
Defense is my passion. Over the past few years, I have assimilated countless pages of data from various sources to hone my knowledge of the defensive side of the football. Every week I will study film from the previous week’s games and provide you with nuggets of wisdom that will lead you to a championship.
In some leagues, it is Week 17 – and not the traditional Week 16 – when championships are decided. If you fall into that bucket, we have you covered with the match-up insights as always. While the landscape this week is somewhat rockier, there are several key spots we can target as teams clamor for postseason glory.
Without further ado, let’s kick off with this week’s matchups.
Pass Rushing Match-ups to Exploit
Baltimore pass rushers at Cincinnati
The Bengals have not fared well in protecting the passer this season. Indeed, it was one of the causes espoused by many a resident of the Queen City as Joe Burrow continued to get pummelled week after week, until eventually, the dam broke. Since then, Cincinnati’s line has allowed sacks at the sixth-highest rate in the league at 7.9%. Interestingly, over the last three games the unit has tidied up their act somewhat, surrendering just four sacks over a three-week period.
The challenge this week comes in the form of the red-hot Ravens defense, however. The unit has averaged 3.1 sacks per game at home and has racked up an astounding 11 sacks over the past two outings. John Harbaugh’s team has everything to play for and will base their victory on a smothering defense. With the Ravens averaging pressure on 18.4% of dropbacks and the Bengals allowing pressure on 19.7%, this is a match-up made in heaven.
Key stat: The Bengals have allowed eight quarterback hits (average 5.57) and have recorded 40.5 dropbacks per game (average 37.4).
Washington pass rushers at Philadelphia
The Football Team has their destiny in their own hands and will be keen to finish the job in style behind a stifling defensive effort. The unit did not cover themselves in glory last week, granted, but the Eagles offensive line has given up pressure at one of the highest rates in the league at 21.7%, with 4.1 sacks and 9.1 QB hits per game to boot. The front four of Washington, with Chase Young a wrecking ball, will be licking their chops.
While Washington’s pass rush has statistically fared better at home than away – 3.6 sacks per game at home compared to 2.1 per game on their travels – this match-up is too spicy to turn down and should yield massive outputs. With Jalen Hurts at quarterback the Eagles lose that bit of veteran savvy that keeps plays alive, and as a result, they have given up nine sacks over the past two games. Ron Rivera’s team will like those odds.
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