Go here for this week's Rushing Matchups
Top 3 Passing Matchups
Cincinnati at Tennessee
The Bengals’ passing offense has been absolutely spectacular over the last third of the season as Joe Burrow and this offense have found their stride as they attempt to make a deep playoff run. Burrow is averaging 336 yards passing over the last six games while facing some good pass defenses in San Francisco, Denver, and the Chargers. Ja’Marr Chase has dealt with some consistency issues throughout the season, but over the last three games in which he has played in full, Chase has averaged 9 receptions for 169 yards. The key for the Bengals will be the play of Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, both of whom have struggled with consistency over the course of the season. The pair had just 36 yards last week against the Raiders and they will need to find a second option besides Chase to exploit this week's matchup. Cincinnati's passing attack will be essential to keeping up with the Titans Saturday.
The Titans are a funnel defense where teams simply try to avoid running the ball against them and instead focus on attacking them through the air. On the season, the Titans have allowed the sixth-most passing yards per game and the third-most passing attempts. Tennessee has allowed 8 quarterbacks this season to top 290 passing yards and the list is not impressive. Davis Mills, Jimmy Garoppolo, Trevor Siemian, Mac Jones, and Zach Wilson were all able to do it against this defense. The issue for the Titans is not a single player, it's just that all of their cornerbacks are average to below average in terms of coverage. On the other hand, the Titans do have some of the league's best safety play going for them from Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker. Tennessee could be without Janoris Jenkins who sat out Wednesday's practice with an ankle injury.
Buffalo at Kansas City
Buffalo’s passing offense is peaking at the perfect time as Josh Allen had the best game of his season last week. Allen threw for 308 yards and 5 touchdowns, but an even more impressive 84% completion percentage. The Bils have dealt with a significant number of injuries at the wide receiver position this season, but they seem to be near full strength coming into this week's matchup with the Chiefs. Buffalo had their top four wide receivers all play last week. They also involved speedster Isaiah McKenzie and tight end Dawson Knox, who had a breakout game with 5 receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns. This is a dangerous team with the perfect balance of speed and route technicians such as Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders surrounding Stefon Diggs.
The Chiefs' secondary is a unit that has dramatically improved since the first five weeks of the season where they allowed four quarterbacks to throw for 280 yards or more. Since Week 5, only Joe Burrow’s 446-yard performance has topped the 280-yard mark against Kansas City. While the Chiefs have played better lately, they've still allowed the sixth-most passing yards in the league in spite of playing a fairly easy schedule since Week 5. They've faced a lot of lower-quality quarterbacks this season over this stretch, including Taylor Heinicke, Ryan Tannehill, Daniel Jones, Jordan Love, Derek Carr twice, Teddy Bridgewater, Dak Prescott, Justin Herbert, Drew Lock, and Ben Roethlisberger. This will be a significant test for the Chiefs who allowed 315 yards and 3 touchdowns to Josh Allen earlier this season. Kansas City's biggest issue this year has been their lack of pass rushing. They have just 31 sacks, the fourth-lowest total in the NFL this season. If the Chiefs are not able to get pressure on Josh Allen, they will likely be in for a long day this week.
Tennessee vs Cincinnati
The Titans are finally back at full strength after a season that was hindered by injuries. Julio Jones, A.J. Brown, and Derrick Henry all missed significant time this year. When the Titans are fully healthy, they are one of the more dangerous teams in the NFL with an average of 28 points scored per game when Henry is in the lineup. Julio Jones has largely been a disappointment in Tennessee as he topped 60 yards just once this season. But Jones does draw attention off fellow wideout A.J. Brown who can be a game-changer. Brown exceeded 130 receiving yards three times this season.
The Bengals secondary has struggled this season, allowing the seventh-most passing yards in the league. The Bengals have yielded 300 yards or more to seven quarterbacks this season, five of which were below-average to replacement-level quarterbacks (Derek Carr, Josh Johnson, Mike White, Ben Roethlisberger, Kirk Cousins). The Bengals secondary has been reasonably good as Chidobe Awuzie, Eli Apple, and Mike Hilton have all been above average. But their weakness has been defending the tight ends and running backs. Cincinnati has allowed the third-most receiving yards to tight ends and the sixth-most to running backs this season. The Bengals have coverage issues at the linebacker and safety positions where both Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt have been abysmal this season.
Bottom 3 Passing Matchups
Kansas City vs Buffalo
The Chiefs offense had one of its best games of the season last week as they threw for 404 yards and 5 touchdowns against the Steelers. The Chiefs’ passing offense has not been as great as it was in 2018 or 2020 when Mahomes was consistently throwing for 300 yards, but they've had their moments. Kansas City has thrown for 400 yards in three games so far this year. If there is one concern it has been Tyreek Hill who has averaged just 29.5 yards over his last four games. The Chiefs' offensive line has been one of the best in football. They allowed the third-fewest sacks on the year led by rookie center Creed Humphrey, left tackle Orlando Brown, and left guard Joe Thuney.
The Bills secondary has been great even after losing Tre’Davious White back in Week 12. The Bills have allowed an average of just 171 yards passing over their last seven games while White has been injured. This is a defense that has two of the best safeties in football with Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. At the corner position, Levi Wallace has done an adequate job of stepping into the number one role. But the standout, Taron Johnson in the slot, has been fantastic this season. The Bills have shut down tight ends this season, allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position in the league. They bottled up Travis Kelce earlier this year, holding him to just 57 yards receiving. The key to this game will likely be Demarcus Robinson matched up against Dane Jackson.
Green Bay vs San Francisco
The Packers offense has been firing on all cylinders heading into the playoffs. While the Packers statistically were only eighth in total passing yards, they are arguably the most efficient. Aaron Rodgers threw 37 touchdowns against just 4 interceptions while completing 69% of his passes on the season. If there is one drawback against the Packers, it's that they don’t have a consistent number two receiver. No other player outside of Davante Adams averaged more than 40 yards receiving per game. The Packers will be without the injured Marquez Valdes-Scantling this week which should move Allen Lazard into the number two receiver position. Lazard has looked good in a small sample size as he has topped 70 yards in each of his last two games.
The 49ers secondary has been a top-tier unit for most of the season. During the regular season, the 49ers allowed the fifth-fewest passing yards per game. Outside of two performances against Joe Burrow and Jared Goff where they topped 300 yards, only Aaron Rodgers eclipsed 250 yards during the regular season against San Francisco. This is a secondary that relies heavily on their pass rush as the 49ers are sixth in sacks on the year. San Francisco's secondary has struggled with their number two corner all season as Josh Norman was benched. Backup Ambry Thomas has not filled in much better, though, which has led to speculation that Norman could once again be elevated to a starter for this game. Emmanuel Moseley is an adequate corner but he's not nearly good enough to shut down Davante Adams for the entire game. As they've done for the entire season, the 49ers will have to rely on their pass rush to keep Aaron Rodgers in check.
San Francisco at Green Bay
Jimmy Garoppolo has quietly evolved into a consistent starting quarterback this season. He's completing 68% of his passes while averaging 273 passing yards per game over his last six weeks. The team has seemingly learned how to use Garoppolo's skill set to take advantage of matchups where they can. Deebo Samuel has been the ultimate x-factor for this offense as he is a matchup nightmare. Whether lining up as a receiver or as a running back, Samuel opens up opportunities for the rest of this offense. Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings have made some critical catches this season, particularly on third down. The biggest concern for the 49ers has been the lack of production from George Kittle who's mysteriously averaged just 19.5 yards receiving over his last four games. The weather may also be an issue for the 49ers as the game should be around 5 degrees by kickoff.
This is an interesting week in that there are quite a few great run defenses but few great pass defenses remaining in the playoffs. The Packers, while not great against the pass, have been solid. Green Bay has held opposing quarterbacks to an average of just 232 yards passing per game. That's the 11th best mark in the NFL this season and the third-best of teams remaining in the post-season. Heading into the playoffs, the Packers defense has looked like the best in the league at its peak. For example, Green Bay held Patrick Mahomes II II to just 166 yards passing earlier this year. But they've also been exposed a few times this season, allowing 302 yards to Matthew Stafford (although most of that was in garbage time) and giving up 341 yards to Kirk Cousins. The Packers received outstanding news this week as it appears that Jaire Alexander will return after having not played since September 26th. Getting an All-Pro caliber cornerback to return in time for the playoffs is a massive upgrade for this defense. If there is one area that the defense can be susceptible it is to the tight end position. Green Bay has allowed tight ends T.J. Hockenson (66), Gerald Everett (63), George Kittle (92), Mark Andrews (136), and Travis Kelce (68) to account for more than 60 yards against this defense. It will be critical for Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos to keep Kittle in check this week.