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Welcome to the Week 13 edition of Snaps & Pace, where we examine trends in play volume and game pace. It is meant to be a 30,000-foot view of upcoming contests, with the goal of identifying which main-slate matchups will — and which will not — be played on fertile fantasy soil. For a primer on why this is important, click here.

The deeper we dive into the season, the darker the pace projections get. With worsening weather and injury attrition taking an increasing toll on offenses — as well as the schedule makers robbing the main slate of its juiciest matchups — the December pickings tend to get pretty slim.

That’s where we find ourselves in Week 13, and the overall outlook is not helped by a whopping six teams on bye. Still, there are pockets of opportunity to mine, an enormous NFC game affixed with a fantasy warning label, and a matchup that could produce the most explosive plays of the season — so let’s dive in.

As always, “situation neutral” is meant to provide context, refers to plays while the game is within seven points during the first three quarters (minus the final two minutes of the first half), and is derived via the FTN Pace Tool. The average play-clock seconds remaining are also based on neutral game script and are provided by our machine, Mike Leone.

 

Up In Pace

 

Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints

After kicking Thanksgiving off with a combined 132 plays and 51 total points in a matchup with a traditionally slow-moving Packers team, the Lions are in another dome against one of this season’s fastest-paced offenses. Of course, the Packers have surprisingly been more explosive than the Saints, and New Orleans is dealing with several pass-catcher injuries. Against the paper-Lions defense, however, it probably doesn’t matter. Detroit is giving up the sixth-most points per play and, over the last month, no one has allowed more scoring per game (31). Lions contests rank top 10 for most combined plays and total points — with both averages rising during the last four weeks. Detroit had the second-most play-clock seconds remaining in Week 11, and this past week they ranked seventh. The Lions’ offense is sixth in explosive play rate over the past month (11.9%), and their games are fifth in total explosive play rate on the season (11.2%).

The Saints marched up and down the field while averaging a healthy 6.6 yards per play but sealed the deal about as often as a fantasy expert on spring break. Two red-zone turnovers and five field goals were all New Orleans could muster. The game did, however, offer above-average play volume via a pair of offenses moving at top-10 paces. The Saints rank first in situation-neutral pace on the season, and they average the fourth-most play-clock seconds at the snap. Despite leaning into their ground game on Sunday, in the midst of mounting receiver injuries, New Orleans ranks top 10 in situation-neutral pass rate on the season. The Lions and their seventh-worst-graded coverage are far more effective against the run than the pass — theoretically tempting the Saints to the air. New Orleans’ elevated tempo and throwing have helped Saints contests produce the third-most combined snaps. It’s not always pretty — okay, it’s rarely pretty — but at least the play volume will be there.

 

Miami Dolphins at Washington Commanders

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