Breakdowns

NFL Week 14 Matchups to Watch

Here are some notes regarding five games on this week’s NFL schedule that we’ve got our eyes on:

Steelers (11-1) at Bills (9-3)

  • Pittsburgh suffered its first loss of the season Monday, managing only 45 rushing yards against the seventh-ranked Washington rush defense. Buffalo’s defense is 22nd in EPA allowed per rush, so Pittsburgh’s running game should get back on track.
  • Both teams can sling it, with top 10 passing games by EPA — but the Steelers are first in the NFL defending the pass. Buffalo’s interior OL has struggled all season, so Cameron Heyward may be able to affect Josh Allen’s rhythm and force some mistakes.

Colts (8-4) at Raiders (7-5)

  • The Raiders defense is the third-worst unit in the league in EPA allowed per play, putting Philip Rivers in position for a big day. Though the Raiders offense is ranked 11th in EPA per play, this is a tough matchup against a top 8 Colts defense.
  • A Colts’ win would put their playoff chances at 89% according to fivethirtyeight.com, while a loss would drop them to 46%. The Raiders would have a 70% chance at the playoffs with a win, while a loss would only give them a 24% chance.

Ravens (6-5) at Browns (9-3)

  • The strength-on-strength matchup is the Browns’ passing game against the Ravens’ pass defense, as both units are top 6 in the NFL.
  • The Ravens rushing attack gashed the Cowboys for almost 300 yards last week, while the Browns’ defense ranks 25th in EPA allowed per rush, so they are posed for another big game on the ground.

Cardinals (6-6) at Giants (5-7)

  • While the Giants only allowed 12 points to the Seahawks last week, the Seattle rushing game had only 5 yards below its season average. The Cardinals have the top offense in EPA/rush, which bodes well against the 13th-ranked Giants run defense.
  • The Giants have yet to win a game when its defense has given up more than 20 points, while the Cardinals scored 28 against the Rams despite DeAndre Hopkins only averaging 4 yards/target. Unless Wayne Gallman has a career day, the Giants’ win streak likely ends here.

Washington (5-7) at 49ers (5-7)

  • This matchup features a pair of top 10 defenses, and the 49ers are especially stout against the run. Washington’s offense relies on the running game, the seventh-ranked rush offense, while its passing game is bottom 5. The team that can stop the run will have the edge.
  • A Washington win would put their playoff chances at 64%, while a loss would drop them to 28%. With a win, the Niners would still have a slim chance at the postseason with 36%, but a loss would all but eliminate them.

For a refresher on EPA, click here

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