Top 5 PASSING MATCHUPS WEEK 9
To view all of our Week 9 Matchup content, please see the links below:
Top 5 Passing Matchups Week 9
Bottom 5 Passing Matchups Week 9
Top 5 Rushing Matchups Week 9
Bottom 5 Rushing Matchups Week 9
Rushing Matchup Chart Week 9
Passing Matchup Chart Week 9
Houston at Jacksonville
The Texans aren’t winning much, but it’s hard to blame Deshaun Watson and the air attack. Watson has topped 300 yards in 4 straight games, producing 9.0 per attempt and 11 touchdowns. (Of course, that’s been inflated a bit by catch-up mode, but that’s to be expected for the 1-6 Texans.) Watson is spreading the ball around plenty, making Will Fuller V, Brandin Cooks, and even slot specialist Randall Cobb fantasy-viable every week. Fuller continues to prove himself one of the game’s most dangerous deep threats; it’s no wonder the Packers (and possibly other teams) are working feverishly to deal for him. His 10.4 yards per target ranks ninth among all qualifying wideouts, and he’s found the end zone in five straight games. And as long as there’s volume available for Cooks, he’s always a step away from a massive stat line of his own. With the Texans routinely playing from behind - and almost no support from David Johnson and the ground game - it’s always fair to project stout numbers from this group. That’s especially true in generous matchups like this one.
The Jaguars pass defense continues to flail badly against all comers. They’ve been burned for 300+ yards in 4 of 7 games, including a masterful 359-yard, 3-touchdown performance by Watson himself less than a month ago. In that one, Watson and his receivers repeatedly took advantage of wide zones and poor tackling, winning both on deep balls and quick-hitters. The Jacksonville secondary remains a mess of injuries and ineffectiveness, and it’s hard even to project much of the rotation before the weekend. The full-timers, though - cornerbacks C.J. Henderson and Tre Herndon, and safety Josh Jones - have been poor overall. First-round rookie Henderson has at least flashed big-time ability, but Herndon and Jones continue to bottom out at their respective spots. Jones in particular is simply out of place in the passing game; he’s an in-the-box guy who provides almost no downfield support. Simply put, this is an extremely generous spot for anyone who feels the need to throw against the Jaguars. The downfield matchups are there to be won, especially by frightening deep-ball threats like Fuller and Cooks.
Buffalo vs Seattle
The Bills don’t throw much when their three-headed ground attack is clicking. That’s what unfolded last week, with the runners churning out 190 yards and 3 touchdowns in beating the Patriots. But Allen has proven here in Year 3 that he’s capable of producing when forced to. He’s compiled 35+ attempts 4 times thus far, averaging 7.9 yards per throw and 324 a game. It’s not always pretty, as there are still shaky decisions and mechanical misfires. But Allen has taken well to a fast-paced attack - and to Stefon Diggs, who drew 9 of the team’s 18 targets Sunday. The clear-cut volume king, Diggs has topped 85 yards 5 times; he projects well in any Buffalo game script. When a shootout emerges, though, it allows the rest of this sneaky dynamic unit to make extra plays for Allen.
The Seahawks have hemorrhaged air production for most of the season. They’ve allowed four of their seven opponents to clear 360 yards, with 14 different receivers topping 70 on their own. They’re aching to get Jamal Adams back; the star safety is a major difference-maker both in coverage and on the blitz. He looks likely to suit up for the first time since Week 3, but there are still big concerns here. Adams remains only one man, and the Seahawks’ cornerback play has been so atrocious he may not move the needle. Tre Flowers and Quinton Dunbar dominate snaps, but both have been beaten soundly in coverage throughout the year. Top cover man Shaquill Griffin, who’s been mostly ineffective himself, may not clear the concussion protocol. If nothing else, that would leave a bottom-level secondary even thinner, making for one of Allen’s best matchup outlooks of 2020. Diggs, for that matter, should have little trouble dodging Adams and winning virtually everywhere else on the field. He’s a movable chess piece, and this unit is burnable both inside and out.
Pittsburgh at Dallas
The Steelers passing game has yet to take flight here in 2020. Ben Roethlisberger remains efficient at 38, hitting on 68% of his throws thus far. But he’s not going downfield much: the Steelers sit 25th in completions of 20+ yards, focusing instead on quick-hitting underneath routes to beat the rush. Roethlisberger’s time as an aggressive deep-ball seeker may well have come to a close. That said, this offense is packed with dynamic weaponry, and any one or two receivers could erupt on a given week. Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and JuJu Smith-Schuster all boast consistent volume and after-catch explosiveness. Johnson remains a weekly health risk, though his brief Week 8 injury looks like a non-issue. All pieces involved are set up as well as ever, and all should produce efficiently for as long as game flow cooperates.
The Cowboys’ much-maligned pass defense has slowed its bleeding over the past month, at least at first glance, with each of their last 4 opponents landing below 225 yards. But it has to be noted that they haven’t faced more than 33 attempts over that span, nor have they taken on particularly strong air attacks lately. They’ve been shredded by most good passers on the schedule thus far. Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis make for arguably the league’s weakest cornerback trio, and they get little downfield support from the safeties. There’s little turn-and-run talent in this secondary; were the Cowboys still in real contention, they’d likely add a prominent free agent to the group. As a result, big-play wideouts like Calvin Ridley (109 yards, 2 touchdowns), DK Metcalf (110 and 1), Tyler Lockett (100 and 3), and Darius Slayton (129) have feasted on huge gaps down the field. The Steelers don’t go deep often, but there’s still ample big-play opportunity on the table. This secondary is a mess of blown assignments and slipped tackles, and it would be an upset to see Roethlisberger fail to exploit it across the field.
Denver at Atlanta
The Broncos passing attack has largely been a work in progress this season, but there is some optimism in Denver as Drew Lock had his best game this season in the come from behind win against the Chargers. The struggles for Denver have not all been Lock’s fault however as while he has had a difficult time staying healthy, so have his receivers as he lost Courtland Sutton for the season and it looks like Jerry Jeudy is questionable heading into this game. This would leave a young receiving group for Lock led by Tim Patrick and last week’s hero K.J. Hamler. The reality is that this is a team that needs to throw the ball through tight end Noah Fant who has also dealt with injures this season but has 20 receptions and 32 targets over his last four games.
The Falcons secondary has been abysmal for most of the season. Allowing an average of 324 passing yards per game which is the second-highest in the league, this is a defense that is a funnel defense to allow defenses to have big games through the air. Last week against the Panthers was the first time all season that they have not allowed 300 yards passing to an opposing offense, and while the schedule has been difficult, it is just a rebuilding unit since they cut Desmond Trufant in the offseason. Rookie Kendall Sheffield has largely been a disappointment on the outside and while it hasn’t been all his fault as Isaiah Oliver and A.J. Terrell have also been disappointing, the Falcons have allowed 9 receivers to top 90 yards this year.
Detroit at Minnesota
There are quite a few questions for the Lions heading into this game as Matthew Stafford has been placed on the Covid-19 list as of Wednesday and while it remains to be seen if he can play this week, it is a situation to keep monitoring as Chase Daniel would be the backup this week. Making matters worse for Detroit is Kenny Golladay will miss this week which will leave the Lions with Marvin Jones Jr, Danny Amendola, and Quintez Cephus.
While there typically would be a lot of room to panic for the Lions this week, the good news for them is that they get to face one of the leagues worst passing defense in Minnesota. Minnesota has allowed 297 passing yards per game which is the third-highest in the NFL this season and have allowed four quarterbacks to top 300 yards. The biggest concern for the Vikings is the lack of pass rush that they have generated this season as their strength historically had been a strong pass rush and strong corners making it very difficult to throw the ball against them. They completely rebuilt their corners this offseason and have now traded Yannick Ngakoue and Danielle Hunter is out for the year. This is a defense that is a long way from the 2019 team and whoever the quarterback is for the Lions should have the chance to have a big game.