Yardbarker’s Sam Robinson and Michael Nania go deep inside NFL games each week, focusing on key numbers and roster issues.
DVOA (Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average): A method of evaluating teams, units or players in a comparative fashion. It takes every play during the NFL season and compares each to a league-average baseline based on situation.
EPA (Estimated Points Added): The measure of a play’s impact on the score of the game. It represents the difference between a team’s “expected points value” (the net point value a team can expect given a particular combination of down, distance and field position) before and after a play.
Net Yards Per Pass Attempt: Passing yards per attempt adjusted for sack yardage.
SCROLL DOWN OR GO TO YOUR GAME: Chicago-Detroit | Buffalo-Dallas | N.O.-Atlanta | Tenn.-Indy | NYJ-Cinc. | Wash.-Carolina | S.F.-Balt. | T.B.-Jax | Cleve.-Pitt. | G.B.-NYG | Phila.-Miami | LAR-Ariz. | LAC-Denver | Oakland-K.C. | N.E.-Houston | Minn.-Seattle
Inside Bears numbers: Mitchell Trubisky has six games this season with a passer rating below 80.0 (league average 91.0), tied with the Rams’ Jared Goff for the most. His ineptitude limits the big-play potential of Chicago’s offense. The Bears average 9.3 yards per completion (league average 11.4), making them the only team with a mark under 10. Inside Bears roster: Inside Lions numbers: After starting 2-0-1 in one-score games, the Lions have lost six of their past seven close contests. A huge reason why? Their struggling defense (ranked 27th in points per drive) has allowed a 44.4 percent third-down conversion rate, fifth worst in the NFL.
Inside Bears roster: Using a second starting running back in as many seasons under Matt Nagy, the Bears have seen their latest one fare worse than Jordan Howard did in 2018. Third-round rookie David Montgomery has not provided Chicago a competent run threat, further limiting an already-limited offense. The Iowa State product has cleared 3.5 yards per carry in just two games and is averaging 47.2 yards per game. Chicago will need to closely examine its RB situation in the offseason.
Inside Lions numbers: After starting 2-0-1 in one-score games, the Lions have lost six of their past seven close contests. A huge reason why? Their struggling defense (ranked 27th in points per drive) has allowed a 44.4 percent third-down conversion rate, fifth worst in the NFL.
Inside Lions roster: Bo Scarbrough, the rare in-season workout player to make a difference in fantasy leagues, will have a chance to prove he can be more than just a late-season filler for a backfield-deficient team. The Alabama product auditioned for the Lions earlier this month and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry in two games as Detroit’s primary rusher. Starter Kerryon Johnson will end a second straight season on IR; he will have missed 16 of 32 games by year’s end. Having gone through a similar stretch with Ameer Abdullah, the Lions will need insurance going into next season.
Inside Bills numbers: The defense is dominant, allowing the third-fewest points per drive (1.23), behind only the 49ers and Partriots. Their secondary is tremendous, allowing the second-fewest touchdown passes (seven) and third-lowest opponent passer rating (76.8).
Inside Bills roster: It is difficult to overstate how inept Buffalo’s rush offense (excluding Josh Allen scrambles) was last season, but a revamped Bills offensive line has helped this year’s edition. Buffalo gashed a decent Denver run defense for 244 yards, and the Devin Singletary-Frank Gore tandem remains vital to a still-developing Allen. The Bills’ offensive line, which features four new starters, ranks third in Football Outsiders’ top run-blocking metric (adjusted line yards). Last year’s unit ranked 30th. Only one of the new linemen, center Mitch Morse, costs more than $5 million per year.
Inside Cowboys numbers: Dallas has an 0-4 record versus teams currently owning a winning record. Across those four games, it has lost the turnover battle eight to one, failed to record a takeaway in three games and turned the ball over at least once in each game.
Inside Cowboys roster: Free-agent addition Randall Cobb has continued to outplay his one-year, $5 million contract. Sunday marked the ninth-year veteran’s third straight 80-plus-yard receiving performance. The former Packer, who disappointed on his second Green Bay contract, has 581 receiving yards and is on pace for his most since his outlier 2014 contract year (1,287 yards, 12 TDs). Cobb will be 30 by next season, which will drive down his price. Regardless of what happens with Dallas’ coaching staff, the team should consider another Cobb contract.
Inside Saints numbers: WR Michael Thomas is on another level, leading the NFL with 104 receptions, 1,241 receiving yards, and 63 receiving first downs. He has 21 more receptions than any other player, 171 more receiving yards, and 11 more receiving first downs. Owning a catch rate of 83.9 percent, Thomas is on track to become the first player to average over 100 receiving yards per game on a catch rate of over 80 percent (since targets were first tracked in 1992).
Inside Saints roster: Seeking a second straight NFC top seed, New Orleans will have to play shorthanded up front against Atlanta and likely against San Francisco as well. Already down left guard Andrus Peat, the Saints lost Pro Bowl left tackle Terron Armstead to a high ankle sprain. While the Falcons’ pass rush is not as imposing as the 49ers’, it did sack Brees six times in Week 10. Ex-Vikings starter Nick Easton is one of the NFL’s best backup interior linemen, but journeyman Patrick Omameh – summoned to replace Armstead – is a downgrade at left tackle.
Inside Falcons numbers: Atlanta’s pass defense is anemic at home, allowing the second-most net yards per attempt (7.5), behind only the Dolphins. However, when the Falcons played against Drew Brees in New Orleans three weeks ago, they held the Saints to under 10 points at the Superdome — the first time that has been done since 2004.
Inside Falcons roster: Atlanta used two first-round picks on offensive linemen and added two more recent starters via free agency. The franchise has not seen enough return on its investments, with its line ranking 28th in adjusted line yards – down from 24th in 2018 – and again 14th in Football Outsiders’ primary pass-protection metric. The Falcons must hope guard Chris Lindstrom’s return from injury will make a big difference next season, because they are not expected to have much 2020 cap space. And six-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack turning 35 next year will soon create another need.