Welcome to the Week 14 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.
This week’s main slate delivers eight backup quarterbacks, four divisional rematches — three of which went under the total the first time — and severe weather threatening multiple games. It’s a real party.
It is typically a sound plan to take early doomsday weather reports with a large grain of salt, and simply keep our eyes on the skies as the weekend approaches. As we pray for the wind gods to spare Cincinnati on Sunday, we also must 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
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
We find ourselves in the unusual position of expecting a Chiefs opponent to speed them up, instead of the other way around. Life comes at you fast. Fortunately, the Bills should be up to the task on several levels. They are operating at the second-fastest pace since their Week 9 loss in Cincinnati. Buffalo is passing at the eighth-highest rate during neutral situations (61%), and Josh Allen rediscovered a rampaging mindset before the bye — hitting season highs in rushing attempts and yards in his highest-graded game of the year. Over the last month, Buffalo’s contests average the second-most combined snaps (135) and sixth-most total points (51.7). With their defense sagging under the weight of mounting injuries, the Bills have dropped from fourth in EPA per play allowed through the opening four weeks, to 26th since then. They are surrendering explosive plays at the sixth-highest rate.
A taste of those chunk plays will be a tonic for the Chiefs’ offense, as it has sunk to 23rd in rate of explosive gains over the last month (8.8%). Patrick Mahomes is completing 20+ yard throws at a meager 28% clip (31st), after ranking eighth (44%), fourth (47%), 27th (32%), second (53%), and fourth (45%) over the previous five seasons. Kansas City also can stand to speed the offense back up. It ranks an uncharacteristic 14th in situation-neutral pace on the season and moved glacially on Sunday night in Green Bay (sixth slowest of Week 13). The Chiefs’ situation-neutral pass rate has also fallen, from third highest through nine weeks (67%) to 19th over the last month (58%). They have become reliant on a defense that ranked fourth in EPA per play allowed just two weeks ago — but is now showing injury-induced cracks. In the long run, that’s good news in Fantasyland — and there’s a strong chance a visit from the Bills offers Kansas City no choice but to reignite the offensive pace against a vulnerable defense.
Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals
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