Welcome to the Week 9 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.
We are treated to four outstanding matchups between legitimate contenders this week. Of course, half of them — the higher-scoring pair — are not on the main slate, and three of the four teams on bye rank top 12 in points per snap.
We are used to skimpy slates by now, as the new normal has seen declines in yards and points per game, as well as yards per play. At least turnovers and soul-crushing quarterback injuries are up. It might seem bleak out there as we set the clocks back and restart the furnace — but still, we 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 intrepid RotoViz 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
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
The standout game of the late Sunday window has obvious powder keg potential, along with an underlying ability to blow up in our face. The last time these rivals met late last season, they produced a combined 141 snaps and 74 total points. Dak Prescott has averaged 293 yards and 3.7 touchdowns in his past three Eagles matchups. The Cowboys are throwing more than last year on a situation-neutral basis and are sixth in pass rate over expected. They are not, however, playing fast, and it’s shown up in the play volume. A 65% pass rate (sixth) is light-years beyond 2022’s 52% clip (25th). Yet, a situation-neutral pace that’s dropped from second fastest to ninth — along with falling from fifth to 25th in pace while up at least a touchdown — has turned Dallas from tempo pushers into occasional clock grinders. As field-goal road underdogs, however, we shouldn’t be overly worried about another wonky Cowboys game script conspiring to crush play volume.
A closer-than-expected contest in Washington had the Eagles throwing more on Sunday (66%) than before Week 8 (57%; 20th). They still weren’t moving nearly as fast as last year, turning in the 24th-quickest pace of the week after finishing first a season ago. Yet, with 131 combined snaps and 69 total points, an Eagles game again displayed its cathedral ceiling when the offense is unable to actively drain clock. Philadelphia’s contests now average the sixth-most combined snaps (128.5) and fifth-most total points (49.5) on the season. Like the Cowboys, they are top six in scoring on a per-snap basis, and both teams’ games rank top four in total explosive play rate over the last month. With a pair of talented offensive lines theoretically able to counter top-four-graded pass rushes, all this matchup needs is a back-and-forth script and some play volume to pop for fantasy.
Indianapolis Colts at Carolina Panthers
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