Week 16 NFL Matchup Manifesto: Andrew Luck, Colts Positioned to Dominate the Giants


Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12).

Dec 20, 2018, 10:13 PM EST
  • Andrew Luck and the Colts have potential for huge offensive plays at home against the Giants.
  • Christian McCaffrey, Todd Gurley and Chris Carson stand out as running backs with an edge this week.
  • Patrick Mahomes could cement his MVP status against the vulnerable Seahawks secondary.

The NFL is a matchup-driven league. Offensive coordinators are always looking to scheme their playmakers into one-on-one situations against a defender, while defensive coordinators will attempt to do anything in their power to upset the timing and rhythm of the opposing quarterback.

Despite the obvious impact that defenses have on opposing offenses, fantasy players are often left with one-way metrics to describe offenses and defenses that they are then forced to compare against each other in an attempt to identify mismatches.

The goal here is to provide easy-to-decipher charts and notes to identify each week’s key matchups on both sides of the ball in:

  • Explosive Plays
  • Pace
  • Pressure
  • Trench Battles
  • Turnover Margin
  • Passing Game

Last week’s manifesto correctly forecasted underwhelming performances for Jameis Winston and Jared Goff, solid rushing days for Joe Mixon and Justin Jackson as well as an uber-efficient passing performance from Kirk Cousins.

The following charts display matchup-specific information meant to highlight the largest mismatches in these ever-important facets of football to ultimately gain actionable betting and fantasy takeaways.

Note: This data is based on games from Weeks 1-15.

Explosive Plays

Big plays make the football world go round. Matchups between explosive offenses and leaky defenses are exactly what we’re looking for when compiling game stacks in DFS, or when betting an over. We can calculate this with help from NFL.com’s team-based statistics.

  • Explosive Pass Rate: The sum of an offense’s rate of 20-plus yard completions per pass attempt and the opposing defense’s rate of 20-plus yard completions allowed per pass attempt. A higher percentage is better for offenses (green is good, red is bad).
  • Explosive Run Rate: The sum of an offense’s rate of 20-plus yard gains per rush attempt and the opposing defense’s rate of 20-plus yard runs allowed per rush attempt. A higher percentage is better for offenses (green is good, red is bad).

  • Saturday and Sunday afternoon aren’t expected to feature many fireworks in the passing game. The only games with the right combination of explosive passing attacks against porous secondaries are the Chiefs-Seahawks and Broncos-Raiders matchups.
  • Additional pass offenses that could create some big plays includes the Chargers, Browns, Texans, Rams and Saints.
  • Baker Mayfield and the Browns in particular have been playing at a very high level in the post-Hue Jackson era.

  • The Dolphins stand out as the least-favorable passing attack against Jalen Ramsey and the Jaguars.
  • Additional offenses that could struggle to create explosive plays in the passing game include the Redskins, Ravens, Lions, Eagles and Giants.
  • The Bills-Patriots and Bears-49ers matchups feature two offenses that could struggle to create big plays through the air.  The over/under in each game has dropped since opening (per our Live NFL Odds Page).
  • Run games that are set up particularly well to bust some big gains include the Packers, Panthers, Giants and Chiefs.
  • Jamaal Williams will certainly benefit from the absence of Aaron Jones (knee, IR), as well as the confirmed presence of Aaron Rodgers under center. Williams has 19, 15, 25, 25 and 22 touches in his last five games with Jones sidelined.
  • Rushing attacks that might struggle to create explosive plays this weekend include the Redskins, Titans, Ravens, Buccaneers, Lions, Eagles and Saints.


Fast-paced games lead to more plays, which lead to more points. There are several games that could resemble a track meet based on their combined situation-neutral pace ranking (Football Outsiders).

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