The Divisional Round of the 2020-2021 NFL Playoffs is finally here. And if last weekend gave us any indication of what is ahead, we are in store for an exciting weekend of football. So, just how do we expect all four Divisional Round matchups to play out? Using the power of Pro Football Network’s Offensive Value Metric, we can evaluate some unique strengths of each team to get a better idea of which games will have the top offensive matchups.
Using OVM to determine the top offensive matchups
The Offensive Value Metric (OVM) was created to measure the overall value that an individual provides to his offense. A player with a higher OVM grade isn’t necessarily a higher skilled player, but they do create more overall offensive production for their team.
For the Divisional Round, we compare the average OVM grades from the three offensive skill positions. This can show us which offenses have the higher production outputs for the bigger opportunity during the NFL Playoffs this weekend.
Top offensive matchups for Saturday
Los Angeles Rams vs. Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers have the edge over the Los Angles Rams in the first matchup on Saturday. There is a fairly significant gap in quarterback value between the two teams. Aaron Rodgers is ahead of Jared Goff in almost every metric. Rodgers leads Goff in completion percentage, intended air yardage, passer rating, number of touchdowns, fewer interceptions, and total yardage.
Green Bay’s receivers are top-tier
While the Rams do have an impressive receiving group, Green Bay have the better offensive matchup here as well. Davante Adams has a near-elite OVM grade of 39.51 on the season. Adams is the sixth-leading receiver for total yardage this season and has the fifth-highest catch percentage. He is also the leading scoring receiver in the NFL with 18 touchdowns this season.
Pair him with Packers TE Robert Tonyan and it creates an unstoppable force. Tonyan has the single-highest catch percentage of any NFL receiver this year at 88.14%. He’s also only a few places behind Adams for scoring with 11 touchdowns. Tonyan has the highest OVM grade of any tight end for 2020 with a 41.55.
Where Los Angeles does come out ahead is in the rushing department. Cam Akers is having a solid year with 625 total rushing yards. He has a strong RB efficiency rating at 4.01 and is running through a stacked box on nearly 38% of his attempts.
However, neither team has had to rely on their running backs to any extent this season so I don’t expect this to make much of an impact on the outcome of the game. Green Bay should come out ahead in this matchup by multiple scores.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills
Both offenses seem to be almost identical in terms of the value brought by their key players. The Buffalo Bills do have a slight advantage, however. Yet, they’re separated by less than a third of a point overall.
The Bills have the better-looking receiver group for offensive production in this matchup. Stefon Diggs currently tops the league in yardage with 1,535 total yards. He’s seventh for his catch percentage and has eight touchdowns this season. His OVM grade of 36.41 is the fifth-highest for any receiver this year.
Josh Allen has been a difference-maker
Buffalo also has the edge when it comes to their quarterback. Josh Allen is having a stellar year. He has the fifth-most passing yards in the NFL right now with over 4,500 yards.
Allen has the fourth-best completion percentage among NFL QB’s — just behind Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. He’s also a top-five scoring QB with 37 touchdowns on the year. If we’re focusing on offensive production, he will exceed Lamar Jackson in this matchup.
However, where Baltimore has a clear lead in offensive matchup is with their running back group. Buffalo has an abysmal OVM grade of just 1.97 for their backs — one of the worst in the NFL. This means that whenever the ball is in one of Buffalo’s RB’s hands, it’s borderline detrimental to the offense.
On the other side of the field though, J.K. Dobbins has over 800 rushing yards on the year. He’s beat the Next Gen Stats’ expectations on nearly 45% of his attempts. He is also currently leading the NFL in yards per attempt at 6.00 yards per rush.
I am expecting this game to be fairly close. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one coming down to a field goal attempt in the final moments of the fourth quarter.
Top matchups for Sunday
Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs
The underdogs of the NFL Playoffs have the potential to shake up the Divisional Round this weekend. The Cleveland Browns top the Kansas City Chiefs in this offensive matchup when it comes down to playmakers.
Baker Mayfield has been exceptional at getting the ball down the field this year. He is second in the league when it comes to completed air yardage. He is also excellent at finding those tight passing windows. Mayfield has an aggressive pass percentage of 13.8% but only 8 interceptions on the year. If we’re grading him on added value to his offense, he has graded a few points ahead of Patrick Mahomes overall this season.
Browns have seen success with their running backs
The Browns also have one of the best running back pairs in the NFL Playoffs right now with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt — they always seem to have a top offensive matchup in this department. Cleveland was the only teams to have two RB’s on our Top Ten OVM Running Backs simultaneously multiple times this season.
Chubb is one of only eight backs to cross the thousand-yard mark this year. He also has the second-highest yardage per attempt (right behind J.K. Dobbins). Compare this to Kansas City’s running backs and it’s a night and day difference.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire does have over 800 yards this season. But, for the most part, this has been open field yardage — only about 9% of his snaps have been against a stacked box. And, according to the Next Gen Stats, this is 52 yards less than he should have right now given the opportunity.
Kansas City boasts the better receiving group. Travis Kelce’s 1,416 receiving yards is the second-most of any NFL receiver (just behind Stefon Diggs). He’s also tied for fifth in scoring with 11 touchdowns.
Tyreek Hill has 15 touchdowns — the second highest number of TD’s this year. Hill has just shy of 1,300 yards heading into the weekend. Cleveland has some impressive players in Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper, but the Chiefs have the better unit.
Ultimately, I think that there is going to be a major upset in Kansas City on Sunday for the NFL Playoffs. I have the Cleveland Browns toppling the Chiefs with their better offensive matchups, and moving on to the AFC Championship.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
The final game of the Divisional Round will undoubtedly be a top offensive matchup of the NFL Playoffs. Drew Brees and Tom Brady have never faced each other in a post-season meeting before. And while both of them will step onto the field ready to put on a show, Tom Brady has the advantage over Brees this time.
Brady has the highest OVM rating of any quarterback listed so far in this article. He also commands the largest separation of OVM grades between his opponent among all four matchups this weekend — 6.68 points ahead of Brees.
Tom Brady leads Brees across the board
Brady leads Brees in almost every metric: intended air yardage, aggressive pass attempts, longest completed air yardage. He’s thrown fewer interceptions than Brees with twice as many touchdowns. He’s nearly 2,000 yards ahead of Brees on passing yardage. Brady is having a tremendous year and will be hard to beat during the Divisional Round.
And if a stout Tom Brady wasn’t enough, Tampa Bay has the higher OVM average for their receiving group as well. Chris Godwin has the fourth-highest catch percentage in the NFL this year. He’s racked up 840 yards and seven touchdowns. For tight ends, Rob Gronkowski is averaging nearly 6 yards after the catch. He has seven scoring receptions and 623 total yards.
New Orleans does come out ahead with their running backs in terms of offensive matchups. Alvin Kamara has 932 rushing yards with an average of 5 yards per attempt — tied for seventh-best. He is second in the league only to Derrick Henry for scoring with a massive 16 total touchdowns.
He’s partnered with Latavius Murray who has played very well. Murray has accumulated 656 rushing yards while simultaneously being the fifth-most defended against back in the NFL. And while Ronald Jones is having a very solid year in Tampa Bay, the Saints are the definite winners in this area.
If this Divisional Round game turns into an offensive shootout, I see Tampa Bay taking a significant lead over New Orleans.