Week 15 NFL mismatches: How Packers, Steelers, Titans may dominate

Yardbarker’s Michael Nania analyzes the biggest positional mismatches each week during the NFL season.


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.

Packers edge rushers Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith vs. Bears offensive line

Where Green Bay has edge: The Packers doled out a combined $118M to the Smiths, hoping they could form one of the NFL’s most destructive pass-rush tandems. They have delivered. Za’Darius is tied for second in the league with 73 pressures, and Preston is tied for 25th with 47. The duo has combined for 51 quarterback hits, which includes 21.5 sacks.

In addition to their pass-rushing ability, Preston and Za’Darius are assets in coverage, playing 113 cover snaps, second most among edge defenders. Za’Darius is also strong against the run, ranking 24th in Pro Football Focus’ run defense grade out of 64 qualified edge defenders.

Why Chicago will struggle: Chicago struggled against the Smiths in a 10-3 loss to the Packers in Week 1. Za’Darius Smith had 10 pressures, tied for the most of any player in Week 1. Preston Smith added six pressures, tied for sixth most that week. Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky was sacked five times, tying a career-high, with Preston collecting 1.5 sacks and Za’Darius adding another.

Fantasy impact: Trubisky is a fantasy factor again, leading quarterbacks with 56 fantasy points (standard scoring) over the past two weeks. However, that hot streak could end Sunday — Trubisky has averaged only 14.3 fantasy points in four games against Green Bay.

How Green Bay does it: In Week 1, Za’Darius Smith did his damage from all over the line. In addition to lining up on the left and right side, Smith created heat from outside and  inside. One of his great traits is his ability to win match-ups against any position on the offensive front. Here, Smith (#55) stands up over the inside shoulder of the right tackle, then rushes the outside shoulder of the right guard. Smith attacks the gap to create penetration, then throws a quick inside spin to pressure Trubisky into an incomplete pass, finishing off the play with a crushing hit.

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