Bears at Lions
No question that Julius Peppers, along with help from Israel Idonije, has helped to restore the Chicago Bears’ defense to the top of the NFL. The Bears have been tough against the pass this season (16 interceptions, T-2nd in NFL), and have executed on the defensive line to near perfection.
Their ability to be effective without the blitz has been one of Chicago's strengths. When sending four pass rushers or fewer, the Bears are allowing just six yards per pass attempt and a passer rating of 68.0. Both are first in the NFL in those situations.
Falcons at Buccaneers
Much has been made of Matt Ryan’s 19-1 home record. On the road, however, Ryan and the Falcons are just 10-11.
Matt Ryan This Season
Passes 15+ Yards Between Numbers
This week against Tampa Bay, Ryan might be able to expose the Buccaneers on long passes down the middle. Tampa Bay is 28th in passer rating allowed on throws between the numbers of more than 15 yards.
If the Falcons can establish the run early and force the safeties to cheat closer to the box, Ryan might look deep over the middle for a big day. Ryan is the most accurate quarterback this season on deep throws inside the numbers.
Jaguars at Titans
Maurice Jones-Drew has been one of the few successful running backs this season against a loaded box (opposing defense bring more defenders into the box than the offense has blockers). Jones-Drew has averaged 4.7 yards per carry on 37 rushes this season against a loaded box, and 10 of those runs resulted in first downs. And since 2008, only Thomas Jones (18) has more rushing touchdowns against a loaded box than Jones-Drew’s 15.
Broncos at Chiefs
When opponents put at least seven men in the box, the Kansas City Chiefs are averaging 4.9 yards per rush, second-best in the NFL.
The extra men in the box also have helped Dwayne Bowe find open space. Bowe has scored a league-high nine touchdowns with at least seven men in the box at the snap.
On defense, the Chiefs saw the best and worst of Kyle Orton in Week 10, but mostly the best. Kansas City stuck with a standard pass rush of four or fewer on 63 percent of dropbacks, and Orton responded with four touchdowns and a 155.1 passer rating. When the Chiefs sent five or more, Orton completed just 33 percent of his pass attempts with a passer rating of 47.2.
Raiders at Chargers
With a season-ending injury of Bruce Gradkowski, Jason Campbell will be back at quarterback for the Raiders. Campbell performed well in the Raiders’ 35-27 win over the Chargers in Week 5. He was most effective when the Chargers played the pass: Campbell completed 7-of-8 passes for 120 yards (118.8 rating) when San Diego had at least five defensive backs on the field.
In that Week 5 win, Campbell received a solid dose of the Chargers’ 3-4 base defense, completing 4-of-8 passes for just 26 yards. On the season, Campbell has faced a 3-4 defense on nearly 29 percent of his dropbacks, and the results have not been good. He’s completed 47.2 percent of his passes when facing a 3-4 defense with just one touchdown and a passer rating of 56.3.
For the Chargers, Philip Rivers has established himself as an MVP candidate this season, but he has been hindered in one area. Rivers has thrown eight of his nine interceptions when throwing the ball 15 yards or more downfield. The eight interceptions on deep balls are tied for the most in the league with Aaron Rodgers.