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Week 19 Passing Matchups

by Justin Howe, Devin Knotts, and Keith Roberts, Exclusive to Footballguys.com

Jump to Rushing Matchups

Great Matchups: [NE]
Good Matchups:
Neutral Matchups: [JAX] [PHI] [TEN]
Tough Matchups: [ATL] [MIN]
Bad Matchups: [NO] [PIT]


PLEASE NOTE: This does NOT replace the Cheatsheet ranking. The Cheatsheet rankings are the final say on where we see a player for that week. The Matchup Breakdowns are simply one more tool in the box when it comes to helping choose your lineup.

Also note, just because a player has a "bad" matchup, it does NOT mean he's not a starter in your league. If Tom Brady is playing the toughest pass defense in the league, that just means he's got a tough matchup that week. He's also your starter unless you're loaded at QB. In the same way, if the worst QB on your roster has a "great" matchup that week, it doesn't necessarily mean he's your starter. It means we think he'll fare better than normal that week.

Bottom line is that the cheatsheets are the final say.


New England Patriots Passing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Tom Brady and the Patriots passing offense certainly did not close out the season on a high note as Brady posted his two lowest passing yardage totals in back to back weeks with his lowest completion percentage since Week 1 in their season finale against the Jets. Despite his slow finish though, Brady still finished the season as the league-leader in passing yards and the second-ranked fantasy quarterback. While there has been no shortage of off-the-field drama surrounding Brady over the last two weeks, expect for the veteran to be locked in, as usual, in his first playoff appearance this season. Rob Gronkowski has been the top receiving option for the Patriots, finishing just two yards and four receptions ahead of Brandin Cooks despite sitting out two games due to injury and suspension and virtually missing the last game as he posted an egg on the stat sheet against the Jets. Leading into Week 17, Gronkowski had a couple of massive games in Weeks 13 and 15, amassing nine receptions in each outing for 147 and 168 yards. The week of rest is big for the often-injured Gronkowski, so look for him to be a big threat playing healthy this week. Brandin Cooks finished with his third straight season of over 1,000 receiving yards as he was a big part of this Patriots offense throughout the season. Cooks was best-used as a deep threat as he ranked second among wide receivers with 608 yards from deep passes. He will certainly present a matchup issue for the Titans secondary with his game-changing speed. Based on reports early in the week, it looks like Chris Hogan should be expected to return to the field this week. Hogan has virtually missed the entire second half of the year after his Week 8 injury, so he will be a much-welcomed addition for the Patriots passing offense. The final aspect to watch here involves the Patriots running backs coming out of the backfield. With James White set to return from injury, both he and Dion Lewis post a threat in the passing game for the Patriots. The Titans finished the regular season allowing nearly 100 receptions and close to 1,000 receiving yards to opposing running backs—so watch out for these pass-catching running backs to try and replicate what we saw Todd Gurley do to the Titans defense in Week 16.

The Titans passing defense showed many of their weaknesses during last week’s game as Alex Smith ended with 264 passing yards and two touchdowns. However, most of the production allowed by the Titans came in the first half as they shut out the Chiefs during an excellent second half for this defense as a whole. Throughout the season, the secondary for the Titans has certainly been a vulnerability despite some solid individual contributors. Kevin Byard has played as a pro-bowl caliber safety at times and finished the regular season tied with the league’s most interceptions (8). Byard should have the tall task of watching after Rob Gronkowski this week though. While Byard has made impressive plays on the ball this season, he has shown to be susceptible in coverage with over two-thirds of the balls thrown his way caught. Logan Ryan has been their best cornerback but has been dealing with an ankle injury in recent weeks. Ryan typically lines up in the slot, so look for him to primarily be covering Danny Amendola. Adoree Jackson has had a solid rookie season at cornerback, but he also has proven to be vulnerable as we saw last week with Tyreek Hill burning him on more than one occasion. Jackson should square off against Brandin Cooks on most snaps in what looks to be a pretty even matchup between the two. Tye Smith is the third cornerback for this unit, filling in for the injured Leshaun Sims. Smith has played well allowing just a 40% catch rate over a short sample size. Smith should be tasked with covering primarily Chris Hogan pending Hogan’s return to the field. Overall, this is a secondary that has some talent, but also can be picked apart by an solid quarterback, as we saw during the regular season as the likes of Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger each posted four passing touchdowns on them. Tom Brady is definitely in this category and has the ability to pick this unit apart, but in order to do it, he will have to stay upright. The Titans will certainly try to apply pressure as they finished the regular season tied with the fifth most sacks while also sacking Alex Smith four times last week. The way to rattle Tom Brady is to get in his face, so look for blitz packages to be a big part of this defensive scheme. However, Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the league and this passing defense is still, overall, below average.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Blake Bortles certainly spent 2017 overachieving and silencing, if only for a brief moment in time, his many critics. After a truly disastrous 2016 that suggested his development had not only stalled but reversed, Bortles post career highs in completion rate and adjusted net yards per attempt, as well as career lows in sack and interception rates. If nothing else, he showcased the ability down the stretch to both manage a game efficiently and pepper in big downfield throws. Bortles averaged 261.9 yards over the Jaguars’ final 10 games, topping 259 in 7 of them and throwing multiple touchdowns 4 times. Still, alarm bells went off when Bortles faceplanted on Wild Card Weekend. Stymied by strong Buffalo coverage, he completed just 12 of 23 passes for 87 yards, with a 1-yard scoring pass; his fantasy day was only salvaged by his 88 rushing yards. Only one wideout (Dede Westbrook) managed to catch a pass, and his 48 yards somehow led both teams. Bortles still looks relatively incapable of throwing his receivers open and struggles to create splash plays; he typically needs his wideouts to break free and present him with opportunities. The Bills do boast a stout pass defense, but the going doesn’t get much easier this weekend against the Steelers’ often-suffocating pass defense, so Bortles will need pinpoint accuracy to survive. Westbrook and Marqise Lee face winnable outside matchups, but it’s hard to project much efficiency here. Bortles was effectively hidden in the Week 5 meeting, managing just 95 yards on 14 attempts, and his efficiency numbers don’t suggest he would necessarily thrive in a shootout. This remains a relatively low-impact unit, one whose sporadic fantasy value is hard to project – especially in this matchup.

The Steelers pass defense has dipped noticeably down the stretch of the season, to the point that this is no longer the shutdown unit it appeared to be early on. After allowing a league-low 172.0 yards and just 0.9 touchdowns over the first 7 weeks, they’ve given up 267.0 (the NFL’s 2nd-most) and 1.6 touchdowns (tied for 10th-most) since. That run has included strong performances by the likes of Brett Hundley (245 and 3), Joe Flacco (269 and 2), and DeShone Kizer (314 and 2). There’s plenty of pass rush dynamism in play here, with an imposing line led by Cameron Heyward (12.0 sacks) and Stephon Tuitt and edge play sparked by rookie dynamo T.J. Watt. But the coverage unit has been up-and-down, with Joe Haden alternating great blanket coverage with shaky play on the boundary. We’ve seen numerous opposing wideouts capitalize of late: they’ve allowed a whopping 15 wide receivers to top 55 yards over the past 9 weeks, with 12 touchdowns given up to the position over that span. There are certainly opportunities to beat them downfield Sunday; the question is whether Blake Bortles can successfully navigate this pass rush to take advantage of them. When the Jaguars succeed through the air, it’s generally more from the ability of their underrated receivers to beat man coverage than from dazzling quarterback play, and that happens to be the Steelers’ vulnerability. Marqise Lee and Dede Westbrook boast winnable matchups on the outside, although Steelers slot cornerback Mike Hilton has excelled all year and should hold Keelan Cole in check.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Philadelphia Eagles Passing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Frankly speaking, it’s hard to expect much from Nick Foles. He’s generally a solid backup, and he looked great in his Week 15 start against the Giants (237 yards, 4 touchdowns, only 1 sack). But he simply doesn’t bring a live arm to the table, and even when he’s avoiding miscues, he struggled to capitalize on big-play opportunities. He’s produced just 5.05 yards per attempt in relief of Carson Wentz, looking lost in Weeks 16 and 17. Foles is a more erratic passer than Wentz, and whatever advantage he has in experience he gives up in confidence and ball placement. Already saddled with a rough per-attempt floor, Foles will likely preside over a low-expectation, low-impact passing attack for as long as game flow allows, so his overall upside is capped as well. It’s also a bit concerning that he showed little rapport with WR1 Alshon Jeffery, who’s caught just 5 of 14 targets from Foles for 57 yards (and 1 score). Tight end Zach Ertz, in the midst of a massive breakout year as an all-over-the-field playmaker, maintains his strong outlook – he produced 56 and 81 yards, with 1 touchdown, in Foles’ 2 full starts. But overall, this passing game does lose most of its Wentz-led fantasy appeal. The efficiency comes way down, and the touchdown opportunities don’t project as well.

Atlanta’s uneven pass defense answered the bell last week, largely neutralizing the Rams’ explosive attack in their easy win. Jared Goff created a few big plays, but overall his high-impact downfield game was tempered and produced just 5.76 yards per attempt and 1 touchdown. Make no mistake, though: this is a bend-plenty-but-don’t-break unit, one that can absolutely allow solid stat lines. Top cornerback Desmond Trufant isn’t a true shadow guy, and the rest of the group is inconsistent, leaving vulnerabilities each and every week. Robert Woods caught 9 balls for 142 yards on Wild Card Weekend – including an impressive 38-yard grab over Trufant’s coverage. And he’s not the only recent opposing WR1 to post a big line. Michael Thomas (10 for 117 and 1 touchdown), Mike Evans (5 for 79 and 1), and Ted Ginn (4 for 76 and 1) have also sprung loose in this matchup; downfield splash plays are plainly on the table. Nick Foles carries a boatload of concerns under center, but he should certainly find exploitable gaps.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Tennessee Titans Passing Offense at New England Patriots Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

It is no question that the Titans passing offense has struggled in the second half of this year’s season. Over Marcus Mariota’s last seven games, he is averaging just 193 passing yards per game with seven touchdowns to six interceptions. This offense has been a run-first unit all season long, and that has definitely shown in their recent games. Mariota completed only 12 passes against Jacksonville in Week 17 followed by just 19 completions last week against the Chiefs. When under pressure in big situations, Mariota has tended to rely more on his legs than his arm to make difficult throws. However, when Mariota has needed to throw in those situations, Delanie Walker has been there more often than not as Walker has been his top receiver all season long. Walker finished the regular season averaging just over four receptions and 50 yards per game with three touchdowns. He had been trending in the wrong direction in his final four games of the regular season with 42, 37, 33, and 19 receiving yards in each game, but Walker bounced back in a big way with 74 receiving yards on six receptions last week, making a number of catches on big third-down situations as he worked the middle of the field with ease. Eric Decker came up big for the Titans last week also with the game-winning 22-yard touchdown reception, but Decker’s hands have been far from reliable with four drops over his last two games. He is not a volume receiver by any means, but he has proven that he can come up big in critical situations. Corey Davis was targeted only two times in their season finale, but he finished with seven targets in last week’s game—second-most on the team. Davis could not do much with those targets though as he amassed just 35 yards as the Titans outside receivers all struggled to get open last week. Rishard Matthews has also been trending in the wrong direction as he now has only five receptions from eight targets in his last three games after averaging nearly seven targets per game through Week 15 of the regular season.

The Patriots passing defense played much better during the second half of the regular season after an absolutely laughable first half of the year. Since Week 7, the Patriots have given up just the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game and fourth-fewest passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. While matchups against the likes of Matt Moore, Jay Cutler, Brock Osweiler, and Bryce Petty certainly help bolster their stats, this unit has definitely looked better against the pass. Stephon Gilmore has been their best cornerback this season and should be matched up primarily against Corey Davis. While Gilmore has had a solid season, we have definitely seen him struggle at times, including in Week 16 against the Bills where he allowed five of seven passes thrown his way to be completed. Malcolm Butler is another talented cornerback that can create matchup problems for any opposing wide receiver. That receiver happens to be Rishard Matthews this week, and Matthews is coming off a big slump as mentioned above. The matchup to watch here though has to be that of Delanie Walker, as he is the top threat in the Titans passing attack. The Patriots gave up a whopping six touchdowns to opposing tight ends over their first six games, but they haven’t allowed a touchdown to the position since then. The level of talent faced in recent weeks has not been anywhere near the caliber of Delanie Walker though, as Walker has been one of the most consistent tight ends in football this season. Patrick Chung should draw coverage on Walker for most of the day, and Chung has actually been stingy with just over a 50% catch rate this season. The matchup could certainly be better for Walker, but it is not a horrible one especially since the Titans use Walker on a variety of routes, including shorter options that can and should match him up against the weaker Patriots linebackers at times.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Atlanta Falcons Passing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Matt Ryan is coming around nicely for the postseason, if only from an efficiency standpoint. That’s great news for the Falcons, but not so much for fantasy owners. Fantasy-wise, the problem we’re facing is that the passing game’s lack of downfield dynamism caps its statistical ceiling. Ryan has reached 275 yards just 6 times all year, and he’s fallen below 225 in 6 of his last 9 games. The Falcons run one of the league’s slowest-paced offense, looking to shorten games with the run far more often than win them by striking downfield. As a result, Julio Jones reaches his immense upside less often than we’d like to see; his target dominance and Hall-of-Fame-caliber downfield skills underwhelm surprisingly often. His refusal to score touchdowns is also a bit concerning. Jones scored last week, but it was just his 4th score all year – his 4.1% touchdown rate was a world and a half below the expected mark of a clear-cut fantasy WR1. Touchdowns aren’t a sticky measure, of course, and Jones is a top-tier playmaker capable of scoring on any deep ball. But he carries years of touchdown-deficient, invisible-in-the-red-zone data that doesn’t inspire much confidence for a massive fantasy day. That said, Jones is a megastud in general, averaging 90.5 yards a game; his dominance isn’t entirely predictable, but it’s sometimes week-winning. The rest of the passing game is uninspiring: WR2 Mohamed Sanu and tight end Austin Hooper occasionally pick up red zone crumbs, but neither moves the fantasy needle much.

The Eagles pass defense been fairly up-and-down in 2017, interspersing dominant performances with leakier ones. But on the whole, this has been a near-prohibitive matchup for opposing fantasy options. They don’t allow much by way of yardage, giving up the league’s 3rd-fewest (205.0 per game) dating back to Week 13. That’s even more impressive when we consider those numbers are weighted by an uncharacteristic 434-yard explosion by Eli Manning and the Giants’ down-to-the-bones passing game in Week 15. Aside from that, no quarterback topped 208 yards over the team’s final 9 games. It’s easy to see why: the Eagles boast one of the league’s most dynamic pass rushes, led by a front line that includes Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox. With strong complementary rushers in veteran Chris Long and rookie Derek Barnett, this is an attacking unit that can flood the pocket from all angles and make up for a lot of the team’s coverage lapses. Matt Ryan is strong in the pocket, but will have his hands full with this group; the quickness of his eyes and release will likely tell the tale of this matchup.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Minnesota Vikings Passing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Case Keenum has done an excellent job under center for the Vikings for most of this season. In his first season with more than 10 starts, Keenum looked solid with an above-average 67.6% completion rate while averaging just under 240 passing yards per game with 22 touchdowns to only seven interceptions. Keenum finished the season with a couple of how more mediocre passing games from a statistical perspective, but he did a great job taking care of the football during the second half of the season with only two interceptions throughout his final seven games. The Vikings and Saints did play in the first game of the regular season, and the Sam Bradford-led Vikings offense cruised past the Saints as Bradford posted nearly 350 passing yards while Adam Thielen finished with 157 passing yards—his second-highest mark in a game this season. With Bradford under center and Dalvin Cook in the backfield though, this Vikings team from Week 1 is tough to compare to what they have on the field now. Regardless of his quarterback, Adam Thielen has had a career year with 1,276 receiving yards—fifth-most in the league. Thielen has been a consistent threat for the Vikings, but he did cool off near the end of the season with only 115 receiving yards over his last three games. Stefon Diggs has been the second option for the Vikings through the air this season. While he took a step back from his 2016 season with far fewer big plays, Diggs still put up respectable numbers and finished the season on a high note with a touchdown in each of his last three games. Diggs also found the end zone twice in the Week 1 matchup against the Saints—one of his two multi-touchdown games this season as Diggs finished with twice as many touchdowns as Adam Thielen. Kyle Rudolph has been a solid pass-catching tight end this season, but he finished the year banged up with only four receptions for 26 yards in his final three appearances. Rudolph was a big red zone threat for the Vikings though as he tied Thielen for the team lead in red zone looks among receivers and tight ends, converting eight of those 16 red zone looks for touchdowns. Rudolph saw a red zone look in all but two games this year if you factor out his last couple of games with Rudolph on a reduced snap count due to injury.

To the same point as above, the Saints defense (and secondary in particular) has definitely evolved as the season has progressed since their Week 1 meeting with the Vikings. This defense has been up and down throughout the season against the pass—but when they have been good, they have absolutely shut down opposing passing offenses. A huge part of this defense’s success has been rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore has been as close to a shut-down cornerback as you can get, posting elite numbers such as a catch rate of just over 50% while allowing one of the lowest rates of fantasy points per route run in the league. On the other side, second-year starter Ken Crawley has actually not been far behind Lattimore in terms of his success this season while rookie safety Marcus Williams has also impressed in coverage over the top. Lattimore is clearly the rock of this secondary though, and this was put on display when he missed nearly three full games due to injury. Over that three-game span, the Saints allowed over 322 passing yards in two of those games while giving up seven passing touchdowns with just one interception over that span. As soon as Lattimore returned, the Saints fired off four games in a row with just a single passing touchdown allowed per game and nine interceptions over that span. From a fantasy perspective though, those big games throughout the season are certainly something to be kept top of mind when considering what this defense is capable of. While the Saints finished the season near the middle of the pack allowing the 18th and 15th most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks and wide receivers, they closed out their last eight games giving up the 14th and 5th most fantasy points per game respectively to these positions. The Saints allowed an average of 356 passing yards per game in their last two outings, which is not at all a positive trend to boost this unit’s confidence. However, Marshon Lattimore was still an elite presence despite the tough day on the stat book for the team as he allowed only one completion for 19 yards when targeted. This week, expect Lattimore to shadow Stefon Diggs while backup cornerback P.J. Williams should see most snaps against Adam Thielen from the slot. Diggs is facing a very tough challenge, while Thielen actually has a solid matchup against the backup Williams who is filling in for Kenny Vaccaro after he was placed on injured reserve recently. In the trenches, the Saints have a top-10 pass rush led by Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan, while the Vikings have a quite solid offensive line that has only allowed 27 sacks on the season—tied for seventh-fewest in the league. This Saints defense as a whole is a tough unit to play against and they have the ability to shut down opposing receivers, but the Vikings have exploited matchups all season line and should have a chance to do it yet again here despite the lack of production we might expect from whoever is lined up opposite Lattimore.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New Orleans Saints Passing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Saints passing offense definitely took a step back this season from their recent high-octane seasons as New Orleans finally found a ground game with the combination of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Despite the reduced passing yardage though, Drew Brees still had an excellent season under center as he finished the year with a pristine 72.1 completion rate and over eight passing yards per attempt—the only quarterback that started at least half the season to surpass that mark. Drew Brees has been one of the best in the league at throwing deep balls, and one of his primary targets downfield has been Ted Ginn. We saw last week what Ginn can do through the air as he hauled in an 80-yard touchdown bomb for the Saints’ first score of the game. Ginn finished the regular season with 15 receptions of 20 or more yards in length. The top receiver for the Saints though, Michael Thomas, actually bested Ginn with 22 receptions of 20 or more yards on the year. Thomas has been stellar since entering the season as a rookie, proving that he can make tough, physical catches underneath with the ability to blow the top off a defense on the very next play. Thomas has been riding hot lately with at least 90 yards or a touchdown in seven of his last nine games, including a season-high 131 receiving yards in last week’s win. Alvin Kamara has been the second-most targeted receiving option for the Saints as he has provided an electric option for Drew Brees all season long. Despite his dud of a performance last week, Kamara is the kind of running back who can (and has) bust a long play at any given moment when he finds some space. Josh Hill is also a name to watch at tight end, as he is playing over 80% of the snaps at tight end with at least one red zone look in each of his last two games, including a touchdown and a season-high 49 yards last week. He is not being heavily targeted with just between two and four targets in each of his last six games, but the Saints offensive scheme has been known to favor tight ends in the red zone.

The Vikings own one of the best defenses in the league and coming off two weeks rest, this unit is one that should be very much ready to go against the Saints this week. The Vikings are ranked top-5 against both the pass and run using DVOA—the only team in the league to accomplish that feat. On the season, only the Jaguars have allowed fewer fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks than the Vikings. The Vikings have actually allowed the league’s fewest passing touchdowns (just 13) while giving up the second-fewest passing yards per game (192) and fewest passing yards per attempt (5.55). They have a shut-down cornerback in Xavier Rhodes who has had success against most receivers he has faced this season. Rhodes should match up against Michael Thomas this week, who he helped limit to just five receptions for 45 yards in their Week 1 meeting. Terence Newman has also been excellent in coverage out of the slot, so not much should be expected out of the Saints slot man Brandon Coleman this week. Tedd Ginn Jr. actually should have the best chance amongst Saints receivers this week as he faced off against their worst cornerback, Trae Waynes, who has given up close to a 60% catch rate as quarterbacks have opted to target him heavily in lieu of getting near Rhodes. Alongside the Vikings cornerbacks are two of the best safeties in the league, including Harrison Smith who has had a Pro Bowl-caliber season. The front seven for the Vikings has been equally, if not more, dominant than their stout secondary with talent on both the interior and exterior of their defensive line along with a Pro Bowl linebacker in Anthony Barr. The Saints offensive line, while a solid unit on the season, should be outmatched here which will limit the time Drew Brees has to find an open man. While it is tough to count out the Saints pass attack, they will be fighting an uphill battle against this stout Vikings defense.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Ben Roethlisberger opened the year in underwhelming fashion, dealing with uncertainty in his receiving corps and offensive line. But he closed 2017 (prior to garbage/rest time, anyway) on an absolute tear, averaging an eye-popping 345.4 yards and 2.80 touchdowns from Weeks 11-15. On the season, he rode that rebound to good-not-great numbers by his own standards, with weekly averages of 283.4 yards and 1.87 touchdowns. On the whole, the numbers weren’t those of a QB1, but his late-season dominance certainly tells us he holds the same week-winning ceiling as always. There’s big concern over his matchup with the dominant Jaguars pass defense, which intercepted him 5 times in their Week 5 meeting. But it’s worth noting he still threw well (33 of 55 for 312 yards), and that Antonio Brown (10 receptions for 157 yards) still found plenty of room all over the field. Of course, the true X-factor here is the health of Brown, who hasn’t played in four weeks of real-time but looks like a go for Sunday. Brown was predictably scintillating in 2017, posting 101 receptions for 1,533 yards and 8 touchdowns in a little over 13 games. He’s amazing, a truly dominant force and one of the league’s more slippery matchups down the field – he registered a career-high 27 catches of 20+ yards this year. But if he’s limited, his margin for error will be next-to-nil against the coverage of Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, and Aaron Colvin. There’s dynamism elsewhere: LeVeon Bell remains a stud in the flats, while JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant present touchdown-generating mismatches. This matchup is truly imposing, but few passing games are more equipped with the matchup-busting talent needed to produce in it.

The Jaguars have spent 2017 (and 2018) simply suffocating opposing passing games. They’ve allowed a minuscule 187.1 yards per game – nearly 19 fewer than the No. 2 Vikings – and the league’s 3rd-fewest touchdowns (1.0 per game). That said, they’ve benefited from a particularly weak set of opposing passers. They’ve done just fine against the likes of Marcus Mariota and T.J. Yates but allowed Russell Wilson (271 and 3 touchdowns last month) to ride garbage time to a strong line. Still, they also intercepted Wilson three times, driving home that their smothering, aggressive play is capable of demolishing a passing game. And no one knows that more than Ben Roethlisberger, whom they intercepted 5 times back in Week 5. The Jaguars had no answers for Antonio Brown – who does, after all? – but still asserted themselves beautifully in that meeting. Roethlisberger was the only quarterback to top 275 yards against them all year, but most of his production (312 yards on 55 attempts) came in deep garbage time. Anything is possible against the Steelers’ volatile pass game, and game flow will likely tell the tale here. But on paper, this matchup swings definitively toward the Jaguars, who are fully capable of pinching off much of the Steelers’ air impact – especially if Brown is hampered or rusty.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.