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Why Kelce Could Be KC’s Star in Sunday’s Showdown Against the Saints

By: Kyle Cunningham-Rhoads

Having Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill on the same team isn’t fair.

In the first of our four biggest matchups of Week 15, we’re leading off with a quick look at why Kelce could have another big game as Patrick Mahomes’ top target in the 12-1 Kansas City Chiefs’ potential Super Bowl preview matchup later this afternoon against the 10-3 New Orleans Saints.

Kelce wins 43% of his matchups, which would make him a top receiver and is almost double the league average for tight ends. With Hill getting double-teamed on more than a quarter of his downfield routes, Kelce should have some one-on-one matchups against some combination of Malcolm Jenkins, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and Demario Davis.

All three are above average pass defenders, but Kelce – second in the NFL with 1,250 receiving yards – is a different beast.

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Matchup to Watch: Vikings Run Offense vs. Bears Run Defense

The Vikings’ young guards, Dakota Dozier and Ezra Cleveland, will have their hands full with a stout and healthy Bears front this week. Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks generates run disruptions more than 10% as often as the average defensive tackle, which is the best rate in the NFL this season.

Dalvin Cook, averaging 4.2 Added Yards Per Tackle, will have to generate more of his own yards today, as Hicks and the rest of the defensive line should consistently reset the line of scrimmage. Minnesota’s run game will depend on how often Cook can make free linebackers Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan miss, and it will be a challenge as both linebackers are successful tacklers on greater than 85% of attempts when defending the run.

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Football Team
Matchup to Watch: SeAHAWKS Pass Offense vs. WFT Pass Defense

This matchup is intriguing for a number of reasons, but we’ll focus on the Seattle receivers against the Washington defensive backfield. Stars DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett have won more than 40% of their matchups this year, well above the receiver average of 32%. Washington cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kendall Fuller have both played well this year, Darby winning 78% of his matchups and Fuller winning 71% – just above the league average for a cornerback.

The weakness for the pass defense is in the slot, where Jimmy Moreland has been consistently targeted with success. Moreland wins just 46% of his matchups and should be heavily targeted in his anticipated matchup against Lockett.

(AP Photo/David Richard)

Cleveland Browns @ New York Giants
Matchup to Watch: Myles Garrett vs. Andrew Thomas

Thomas has allowed pressure on 15.7% of pass blocking opportunities, the worst rate among left tackles with more than 200 opportunities. That doesn’t bode well heading into his matchup with Garrett, who is one of the premier edge rushers in the game.

Garrett has generated an impressive 54 pressures on his 248 pass-rushing opportunities. That 21.8% rate is second to only T.J. Watt this year. Colt McCoy, the Giants’ starting quarterback this week, will have to keep his head on a swivel when he drops back.


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