Friday, December 17, 2010
Short throws key for Manning against Jags
The Jacksonville Jaguars can clinch the AFC South with a win Sunday at Indianapolis. The Jaguars, who beat the Colts in Week 4, are looking to sweep their divisional rival for the first time ever.
Peyton Manning has struggled this season throwing more than 10 yards downfield, highlighted by a league-high 13 interceptions. In that Week 4 loss at Jacksonville, Manning completed just 52.9 percent of his passes that were more than 10 yards. On short throws (10 yards or fewer), Manning completed 82.8 percent of his throws with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
In the past two seasons, the Colts have sent four pass rushers or fewer after Jaguars QB David Garrard 68.8 percent of the time. If that trend continues, then Garrard might have a big day. He has completed a league-high 71.7 percent of his passes (minimum 60 attempts) when facing four pass rushers or fewer this season.
While Garrard has been good, the Jaguars ground game has been even better with Maurice Jones-Drew rushing for 100 yards in six straight games. Not only have the Colts struggled to contain Jones-Drew the past three seasons, but they actually have done worse against the Jaguars running back when putting extra defenders in the box. Jones-Drew has averaged 4.9 yards per rush when the Colts have eight players or more in the box pre-snap, compared to 3.8 yards per rush against all other NFL teams.
Packers at Patriots
Tom Brady has the best passer rating this season and will be tested against the best pass defense on Sunday night. It’s no secret that the Patriots passing game has relied heavily -- and had great success -- on the short pass since the departure of Randy Moss. It just so happens that Brady’s specialty is also the strength of the Packers’ defense.
The Packers have also been stout when facing multiple tight end sets -- no touchdown passes in 78 attempts against that formation. That could change against the Patriots, who have used multiple tight ends on 527 plays this season, and Brady has thrown a league-high 15 touchdowns out of multiple tight end sets.
Jets at Steelers
The New York Jets have used at least one member of the secondary on a league-high 161 pass rushes this year, that’s more than double the NFL average of 74. However, the Jets will be going up against a quarterback who has thrived under those circumstances.
Among quarterbacks with at least 50 attempts against added pressure, Ben Roethlisberger has the third-best passer rating since the start of last season. Roethlisberger also is one of three quarterbacks, along with Joe Flacco and Peyton Manning, who have not thrown an interception against the secondary blitz over that span.