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Mike Tannenbaum: Week 5 Matchups to Watch

Week 5 Matchups to Watch

Here are a few Week 5 matchups we’ve got our eyes on:

AFC Championship Game Rematch: Bills at Chiefs

The marquee game of the week is a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game in which the Chiefs beat the Bills 38-24. Buffalo had no answer for the Chiefs offense in that game, allowing Mahomes to throw for 325 yards and 3 TDs. Travis Kelce caught two of those TDs; he and Tyreek Hill both had over 100 receiving yards. However, when the Bills and Chiefs meet again on Sunday Night, the Bills will enter the game as the top defense in the NFL according to multiple metrics, including Expected Points Added Allowed (-0.411/play). 

In contrast, the Chiefs defense has been the worst in the NFL through four weeks with an EPA/Play Allowed of 0.175. They have allowed at least 29 points in every game. Thus far, Josh Allen has not played as well as he did in 2020. Per PFF, his percentage of Turnover Worthy Plays is up from 3.6% last year to 4.7% this season. His completion percentage is down from 68.3% to 63.5%. Even so, the Bills are still sixth in the league in yards per game with an average of 404. This will be a tall task for Steve Spagnuolo’s defense, and they will need to better as their offense may not be able to carry them against the Bills’ defense. 

Browns at Chargers

Two of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL clash on Sunday when the Browns travel to Los Angeles to play the Chargers. Through four weeks, both teams find themselves tied for the lead in their respective divisions, which are two of the most competitive in football. In this matchup though, we’ll be focused on some battles in the trenches. Chargers rookie LT Rashawn Slater will have the toughest test of his young career when he goes up against Myles Garrett. Slater has allowed a pressure rate of just 3.2%, which ranks 10th for all tackles. He’ll face Myles Garrett and his pressure rate of 22.8%, the best for all EDGE rushers with at least 100 snaps. Garrett also leads the league in sacks with 6. 

Second to Garrett in EDGE pressure rate is Joey Bosa, who will primarily matchup with Browns RT Jack Conklin. Bosa’s 92.5 PFF Pass Rushing Grade is the best mark for any defensive lineman this season. Conklin, on the other hand, has been tremendous in run blocking, boasting the third best PFF Run Blocking Grade of any Tackle (91.3); he trails only Trent Williams and Tyron Smith. In pass protection, however, Conklin’s pressure rate allowed is up from 2.8% in 2020 to 4.9% this season. Look for Bosa to have the advantage while pass rushing, but for Conklin to have the edge when Cleveland runs the ball.

Bengals at Packers 

With star CB Jaire Alexander out with a shoulder injury, the Packers will have a tough task matching up with the Bengals talented receivers. Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd all have PFF Grades of at least 73.5 with Chase and Higgins both over 77. Chase also has 4 TDs, which is as many as all other rookies combined. For the Packers, their secondary as a whole has struggled. Aside from Alexander, the next highest graded CB for the packers is rookie Eric Stokes with a grade of 54.4. As for Burrow, he has been extremely accurate, ranking 5th in completion percentage above expectation (+6.6%) per Next Gen Stats. I anticipate a high-scoring affair at Lambeau as he faces off against Aaron Rodgers. 

49ers at Cardinals

Kyler Murray has taken a dramatic step forward in year three. According to Next Gen Stats, he has the highest completion percentage above expectation in the NFL at +9.2%. Murray trails only Patrick Mahomes and Matthew Stafford in Pass Expected Points Added (+35.5) this season. His PFF Rushing Grade is down from last season, but the 49ers’ game plan will have to account for his mobility. The problem is that he had great success while under pressure this season; he has the best PFF Passing Grade in the NFL when pressured (82.0). The 49ers defense will have to find a way to slow him down. 

In terms of individual matchups, Trent Williams going up against Chandler Jones will be intriguing. Williams was PFF’s highest graded tackle in 2020, and he is doing his best to claim that title again. His PFF Grade of 93.7 is the best for all tackles through four games. He suffered a shoulder injury against the Seahawks, but the 49ers are hopeful he will play Sunday. As for Jones, he has the third best PFF Pass Rushing Grade for all EDGE rushers and has 5 sacks on the season.

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