The teams have been set and now we look forward to another weekend of football with the Divisional Round matchups. Let’s jump right into all the information for this week and as always, you can get me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.
The Vegas Lines
Highest Scoring Games
Below are the projected over/under and lines for all four games this weekend.
1) Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals
Over/Under: 50 points
Line: Cardinals -7
2) Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers
Over/Under: 44 points
Line: Panthers -3
3) Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
Over/Under: 42.5 Points
Line: Patriots -5
4) Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
Line: Denver -6.5
Rankings included in this section show the 2015 regular season stats and do not contain round one playoff numbers
Worst DvP Matchups – QB
1) Denver Broncos vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – The early consensus in this game is that Ben Roethlisberger will be able to go in this one. He faces the toughest defense on the slate with the Broncos against the quarterback position. During the regular season, the Broncos allowed 60% of the 573 targets to be completed for a league-low 3544 yards. The Broncos were able to grab 14 interceptions while allowing 19 passing touchdowns.
2) Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers – One solid defense against another in this matchup. The Seahawks were fantastic against the quarterback position this season, allowing 60% of the 548 targets to be completed for 3619 yards, which was second to only the Broncos. The Seahawks grabbed 14 interceptions while allowing 14 passing touchdowns, which was the lowest in the league by four. The Seahawks have allowed three rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, which is tied for the second-most with seven other teams.
3) Carolina Panthers vs. Seattle Seahawks – This game might come down to who makes a more crucial mistake. The Panthers rank as one of the best defenses in the league and for good reason. Against opposing quarterbacks, the Panthers allowed 60% of the 650 targets to be completed for 4054 yards with 21 touchdowns. The Panthers were able to grab 24 interceptions this season which lead the league by two.
Best DvP Matchups – QB
1) Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos – Of the teams left in the playoffs, the Steelers rank as the best matchup for their opposing team. On the season, the Steelers allowed a 64% completion rate on 623 targets for 4664 yards, which is the third-most allowed in the league. The Steelers let up 29 passing touchdowns while grabbing 17 interceptions. For what it’s worth, Manning threw 17 interceptions in 10 games this season.
2) New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs – Alex Smith isn’t going to blow you away with his passing abilities, but he has a decent matchup on tap this week. The Patriots have allowed 60% of the 596 targets to be completed this season to go along with 24 passing touchdowns. The Patriots were only able to grab 12 interceptions this season, which ranked near the lower half of the league.
3) Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals– The Packers were decent against opposing quarterbacks in 2015. On the season, they allowed a 58% completion rate on 550 targets for 3878 yards with 20 passing touchdowns. The Packers grabbed 16 interceptions, which was good for 7th in the league.
Worst DvP Matchups – RB
1) Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers – As was the case almost all season, the Seahawks are not a team you’re going to beat with your ground game. Opposing teams averaged 3.5 YPC against the Seahawks while rushing for only five touchdowns. The Seahawks held one of the best running backs in the game, Adrian Peterson, to just 1.9 YPC last week.
2) Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos – The Steelers are certainly a team that can stop the run. On the season, they allowed an average of 3.8 YPC to opposing running backs with four rushing touchdowns. Last week, the Bengals averaged 4.3 YPC with one rushing touchdown.
3) Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots – I don’t know how much the Patriots will be focused on the running game in this one, as the Chiefs were one of the best. On the season, opposing running backs managed 3.1 YPC with seven rushing touchdowns. The Texans were able to manage 4.5 YPC last week, but that’s about the only success they had in the entire game.
Best DvP Matchups – RB
1) Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals – I really can’t say that any of these teams are easy to run on, as all of these playoff teams are basically lumped together in the rankings. Nonetheless, the Packers are deemed as the weakest. They allowed 4.1 YPC to opposing running backs with 12 rushing touchdowns on the season. The Redskins managed 4.6 YPC last week on 18 attempts.
2) Carolina Panthers vs. Seattle Seahawks – The whole dynamic of the Seahawks offense changes with or without Marshawn Lynch, so that will certainly be news to monitor as we get closer and closer to Sunday. The Panthers allowed 3.7 YPC to opposing running backs with nine rushing touchdowns. It’s worth nothing that running backs had a lot of success catching passes out of the backfield against Carolina, grabbing 109/152 targets for 801 yards and three touchdowns.
3) Denver Broncos vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – Crazy to think that Denver is technically one of the three best teams to run on, but that’s what happens when we analyze eight teams. The Broncos allowed 3 YPC to opposing running backs while they rushed for nine touchdowns. Like the Panthers, the Broncos certainly allowed some offense in the receiving game as well, with running backs catching 96/141 targets for 727 yards and five touchdowns.
Worst DvP Matchups – WR
1) Denver Broncos vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – It was only fitting that the Broncos ended the season as the best defense against wide receivers. They allowed 58% of the 284 targets to be completed for a league-low 1906 yards and seven touchdowns.
2) Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers – The Seahawks were certainly not far behind Denver when it came time to defend against the pass. The Seahawks allowed a 56% of the 301 targets to be completed for 2123 yards and a league-low six touchdowns.
3) Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers – Let’s finally give some love to the Cardinals in this article. On the season, the Cardinals allowed a 54% completion rate on 326 targets for 2324 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Best DvP Matchups – WR
1) Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos – The Steelers are by far the worst against the pass out of the remaining teams in the playoffs. During the regular season, the Steelers allowed a 64% completion rate on 368 targets for 3088 yards, which lead the league. Oh, and let’s not forget about the 19 touchdowns.
2) Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots – The Chiefs defense has been as solid as it gets in the second half of the season, however, they are certainly vulnerable to the pass. During the season, the Chiefs allowed a 56% completion rate for 2844 yards and 19 touchdowns. The returning Julian Edelman will be a huge boost for the Patriots.
3) New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs – On the flip side, the Patriots are also weak at defending the pass. On the season, the Patriots gave up a 56% completion rate on 362 targets for 2927 yards and 16 touchdowns. The 2927 yards was the third-most allowed in the league.
Worst DvP Matchups – TE
1) Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots – The toughest team against tight ends matches up with one of the elite in Rob Gronkowski. The Chiefs only allowed a 54% completion rate on 121 targets for 652 yards and three touchdowns.
2) New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs – Anything you can do I can do better? The Chiefs respond with with Tavis Kelce, who will face a Patriots defense that has allowed a 58% completion rate on 110 targets for 630 yards and seven touchdowns.
3) Carolina Panthers vs. Seattle Seahawks– The Panthers check in this week allowing a 60% completion rate on 132 targets for 774 yards and six touchdowns during the regular season.
Best DvP Matchups – TE
1) Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos – The Broncos don’t utilize their tight end position since the departure of Julius Thomas, but it’s just another avenue for them to exploit the Steelers. They’ve allowed a 60% completion rate on 144 targets for 914 yards and eight touchdowns.
2) Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers – This should be a great spot for Greg Olsen. The Seahawks really have trouble against the tight end position, allowing a 67% completion rate on 109 targets for 852 yards and eight touchdowns. In the prior meeting in week 6, Olsen had his second highest scoring game of the season, catching 7/11 targets for 131 yards and a touchdown.
3) Denver Broncos vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – Heath Miller could see an uptick in targets if Antonio Brown ends up sitting in this one. If Brown does, Miller will get a Broncos D that’s allowed 56% completion rate on 138 targets for 902 yards and seven touchdowns. Miller only caught 3/5 targets in week 15 for 12 yards against the Broncos.
Last 3 Weeks Leaders
(players with an * include wild card weekend targets)
Lineup Quick Hits
QB To Build Lineups Around…
Cam Newton ($7,500) – Newton feels like the safest play on the week for me. Relatively speaking, the majority of quarterbacks have tough defense matchups ahead of them or are potentially dealing with nagging injuries like Tom Brady. That being said, I like Newton this week with the short list of options. Earlier this season, Newton scored 21.8 DraftKings points against the Seahawks where he completed 20/36 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown. It wouldn’t be a Cam Newton game without him rushing, which he did for 30 yards on seven attempts with a touchdown. Newton is about as solid as you can get and I like this spot for him, even with the tough defense ahead of him. Granted, that game against the Seahawks came at a time where the Seahawks were stumbling and it might not be the best example to use, but Newton has been getting it done all season and I don’t see that stopping this week.
WR To Pair Him With…
Greg Olsen ($6,900) – Another reason I’m loving Newton this week is because of Olsen. He’s seeing 7.7 targets per game and faces a Seahawks defense that struggles against the tight end position. On paper, it sounds like a daunting task, but the Seahawks have allowed eight touchdowns to this position during the regular season. Olsen had a huge game earlier this season against the Seahawks where he caught 7/11 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. I have no reason to believe Newton will be looking else where other than his favorite target. And yes, I know Olsen is a tight end. I can break my own rules.
The Top RB Will Be…
Charcandrick West ($5,500) This position gets weaker and weaker by the day I feel like. West might not jump out at you as a potential high scoring player this week, especially with Spencer Ware getting the red zone looks. However, with the injury to Jeremy Maclin, West could have a lot of opportunities this week. Ware has been getting the carries but rarely get any targets, having even receiving one since week 13. West is certainly capable of having a big game, as we saw during weeks 7-10, where he rushed for 110, 97 and 69 yards and seeing 5.5 targets per game. This is going to be a tough week for running backs overall, but if I’m going down swinging with someone, I’m going with West.