Bottom 4 PASSING MATCHUPS WEEK 19
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Green Bay vs LA Rams
The Packers passing offense is like a two-man show with a tremendous supporting cast. It is led by what likely will be the MVP in Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams who had an unbelievable season amassing 1,374 yards on just 14 games played. The Packers are not an offense that is going to come out and throw 40 times in a game, as they throw the ball just 32.4 times per game this season, which is the ninth-fewest in the NFL, but have the ninth-most passing yards per game averaging 246 per game. The reason for the success is largely driven by how efficient this passing attack is, as they complete 70.2% of their passes (second in the NFL), and are averaging 8.2 yards-per-attempt (third in the NFL). If there is one concern, it would be at the tackle spot as David Bakhtiari and Rick Wagner will both miss this game leaving the Packers to likely have to start Jared Veldheer who was signed off the Colts practice squad this week.
The Rams secondary will make for one of the most intriguing matchups of the year as we have the MVP and one of the most efficient offenses, facing off against the league’s best pass defense. Led by Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, the Rams are a shut-down unit that is allowing the fewest fantasy points per game in the NFL and the second-fewest passing yards per game. The way to beat the Rams is through tight ends and running backs as they are allowing just 129 yards to opposing wide receivers, which is the fewest in the NFL and is 11 yards per game fewer than the second-best team. The big question will be the pass rush, as the Rams had the second-most sacks in the NFL this season and had four sacks last week and if they can pressure Aaron Rodgers who was sacked just 21 times (third-fewest in the NFL), they hold this lineup in check.
LA Rams at Green Bay
The Rams seemingly will go back to Jared Goff after John Wolford was injured early in the first quarter last week. Goff has really struggled down the stretch with both ball security (seven interceptions in his last seven games) and efficiency as he is averaging just 184 yards passing over his last four games. What seems to be interesting is the lack of faith by the coaching staff as even this week, Sean McVay stated that they will take the starting quarterback position “one day at a time” which seemingly indicates that if Wolford is healthy, he would be the starting quarterback this week. The Rams may also be without Cooper Kupp this week as he is dealing with a knee injury and did not practice on Wednesday. This is a limited passing offense that will have to reverse the trend with Goff who had thumb surgery on December 28th against a tough defense.
The Packers secondary continues to be a strong point of this team led by second-team All Pro Jaire Alexander. On the season, the Packers have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and are allowing just 237 yards per game through the air. The Packers have an elite combination of a strong pass rush with 41 sacks of the year to complement the strong secondary. The Packers are especially dominant against the wide receiver position allowing just 144 yards receiving per game which is the third-fewest in the NFL this season. If there is a weakness on this team the Packers have been slightly susceptible to the slot receivers as they have allowed big games to Randall Cobb, Richie James, and Olamide Zaccheus. Chandon Sullivan is an undersized corner who does not have the consistent speed to stop shifty slot receivers as he ran just a 4.6 40 which led him to being undrafted. This is still a dominant unit that is one of the best in the league, and with the Rams having an injured Cooper Kupp, the Rams should have a difficult time throwing against this secondary.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
The Buccaneers have to love what they got from their air attack in the opening round. Tom Brady has struggled throughout the year with downfield throwing, frequently missing his many big-play targets when trying to push the ball. But last week he was dialed-in against Washington's formidable defense, amassing 381 yards and 2 touchdowns as the catalyst of the Buccaneers' win. Brady throws to a wide variety of dynamic weapons on all levels of the field. Of course, Mike Evans' lightning-fast return from his Week 17 knee injury is a major boon. Evans was much more than a decoy against Washington, turning 10 targets into 119 yards. He's still one of the game's elite playmakers, so it's worth noting she has historically struggled against Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore. He's posted just 134 yards (6.4 per target) over their last four meetings. Evans teams with Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, both of whom worked free for long touchdowns last weekend, to form football's most dynamic receiving trio. It speaks volumes that guys like Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, and the underappreciated Scotty Miller are all relegated to situational roles in this attack. They all have their work cut out against this smothering Saints defense, but no one can accuse them of lacking options.
The Saints pass defense, a laughingstock for many years, continues to sharpen into one of 2020's most dominant. It’s been over two months since a quarterback not named Patrick Mahomes II has posted a truly meaningful stat line in this matchup. Sometimes an opponent will fall behind and put up numbers in catch-up mode, but this is a daunting fantasy task overall. Opposing passers have managed just 6.8 yards per attempt and 233 a game, with a league-high 18 interceptions along the way. In Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins, the Saints boast as imposing a cornerback duo as anyone. Lattimore has actually put in a bit of a down year, but Jenkins’ bounce-back campaign has picked up much of the slack. He’s a massive upgrade over the team’s previous attempts to fill the spot opposite Lattimore, and quarterbacks now have to get creative in attacking this group over the middle. But Marcus Williams has enjoyed a small breakout of his own this year, while Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is one of the league’s best slot men.
Buffalo vs Baltimore
Josh Allen and this Buffalo passing offense have been fun to watch throughout the season, including last week when Allen put on a show in his first playoff win passing for 324 yards and two touchdowns. He finished half of his regular-season games with more than 300 passing yards and passed for fewer than two touchdowns just three times in 2020. Consistency has been a big improvement for Allen this season, which has also benefitted his offensive weapons like Stefon Diggs--who had a career year with over 1,400 receiving yards and eight touchdowns during the regular season. Diggs had a huge game last week as well with 128 yards and a touchdown as he looks to continue his dominance against a tougher defense this week. Beyond Diggs, Cole Beasley has been the secondary target for Allen as even he, too, finished 2020 with a career-best season of 967 receiving yards. Beasley was banged up to close out the year but returned to catch all seven of his targets for 47 yards last week, showing only slight signs of discomfort while playing his full complement of snaps. Beyond Diggs and Beasley, Allen still has depth at his disposal in Gabriel Davis and John Brown, along with Kenny Stills waiting in the wings in case anyone is unable to go come this weekend.
The strength of this Ravens defense lies in the secondary as they finished the regular season allowing the sixth-fewest passing yards per game and third-fewest yards per pass attempt. They rarely had their starting trio of cornerbacks all healthy at the same time this season, but all were on the field last week and proved to be quite effective against a potent Titans passing offense. Whether in the slot or on the outside, Marlon Humphrey has been tough to match up against all season long and should make it difficult on Cole Beasley. Marcus Peters looks likely to match up on Stefon Diggs, and while Peters has looked great at times throughout the season, Diggs has the edge here due to how susceptible Peters has been to giving up big plays throughout this season. Diggs has been a big-play machine throughout the season and could very well make a few of those in this matchup against Peters. If the Ravens, however, can keep a lid on Diggs--then they will maintain the advantage despite facing this highly lethal Bills passing attack.