Green Bay (+7.5) @ Dallas
Power rankings: Green Bay 11, Dallas 4
When Green Bay has the ball: The Packeres offense is 6th in DVOA (4th pass, 15th run) and 5th in EPA/play. Jordan Love finished the season as PFF's 12th highest graded quarterback and 10th highest in ESPN's QBR metric. Love's story has been his progression throughoutt he season - from week 9 - 18, he moves up to PFF's 2nd highest graded QB. He's been accurate at all levels of the field and generally does a good job of avoiding turnovers, evident by his 2.6% turnover worthy play rate. He plays behind a decent offensive line, although there's weaknesses at the C (Josh Myers) and RG (Jon Runyan) positions. The pass catchers are as young as it gets - to find a tight end or wide receiver who was drafted prior to 2022 who received a target this season, we'd have to go all the way down to TE Josiah Deguara, a 2020 draftee who was targeted 8 times this season. The Packers could be without WR Christian Watson (hamstring) - he hasn't played since week 13 and is officially questionable, although he did get in 3 limited sessions at practice this week. Even without Watson, the pass catchers for the Packers have provided to be valuable commodities, especially down the stretch. The running game will likely be without AJ Dillon (thumb/neck), officially listed as doubtful, which should lead to plenty of touches for Aaron Jones.
The Cowboys defense is 5th in DOVA (7th pass, 5th run). Their defensive line is significantly better as pass rushers - they rank 1st in pass rush win rate and 27th in run stop win rate. They blitz at a rate of 28.5% (12th), get pressure at a rate of 31.9% (4th), and have a team PFF pass rushing grade of 91. Michah Parsons accomplished an absurd feat of 100+ pressures, officially finishing the season at 103 while achieving a pass rush win rate of 24.1%, 2nd highest in the league. Meanwhile, Demarcus Lawrence, DT Osa Odighizuwa, and Dante Fowler Jr are all capable of getting home if you put too many resources on Parsons. Other strengths of the Cowboys defense include their corners (Daron Bland/Stephon Gilmore), LB Osa Odighizuwa (especially in coverage), and S Donovan Wilson, a trip threat safety who can cover, stop the run, and ocasionally blitz. THe Packers line will have their work cut out for them, but Love has gone a good job avoiding pressure this season - his 30.2% pressure per dropback rate is 3rd best in the league. If he can stay relatively clean, the Packers should be able to poke some holes in the Cowboys defense.
When Dallas has the ball: The Cowboys offense is 9th in DVOA (11th pass, 16th run) and 2nd in EPA/play. Their offense isn't hard to figure out - Dak Prescott is an MVP canidate, finishing 2nd in PFF grades and 2nd in ESPN's QBR. The offensive line is excellent (although RT Terrance Steele had a down year), and the skill position players provide Prescott with plenty of options. Prescott finished tied for 2nd in PFF's big time throw rate and tied for 4th in turnover worthy play rate, showing a rare combination of making big plays while keeping the ball out of harm's way.
The Packers defense is 27th in DVOA (26th in both pass and run). They've had some success as a pass rushing group - generating pressure on 29% of dropbacks (13th) despite blitizng 22.9% of the time (22nd). They succeed at the pass rush based on several different players who can get home, including DT Kenny Clark (61 pressures), DE Rashan Gary (60), DT Devonte Wyatt (45), and DE Preston Smith (45). Gary moves around quite a bit, but he's played far more snaps on the left side, where he'll face off against Steele. The rest of the Packers defense is riddled with medicority. To make matters worse, CB Jaire Alexander rolled an ankle in Thursday's practice and is officially questionable - with the docs declaring that he'll be less effective than normal even if he does play. CeeDee Lamb, who was one of the better receivers in football this season, runs 57% of his routes out of the slot, where he'll face off against Keisean Nixon, who owns a 61.2 coverage grade from PFF and is allowing a 103.8 passer rating into his coverage this season. To cover, Green Bay must do well on offense, because it's hard to envision a scenario where Dallas doesn't put up points.
Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay (+3.0)
Power rankings: Philly 8, Tampa 18
When Philly has the ball: The Eagles offense is 10th in DOVA (12th pass, 5th run) and 7th in EPA/play. Jalen Hurts finished the season 6th in PFF grades and 11th in ESPN's QBR. His 15 interecptions stand out, but this was clearly due to bad luck, evident by his 8th best 2.3% turnover worthy play rate. They have arguable the best offensive line in football, but the skill position player are a conern. They'll be without AJ Brown (knee), who sprained his MCL in last weeks game. Brown has an abusrd 31.9% target share on the season, leaving the Eagles with a giant question mark in terms of where those targets are going. Devonta Smith and TE Dallas Goedert have been a big part of the offense, but the next highest receiver/tight in end in terms of targets is Quez Watkins at 21. The corpose of Julio Jones expects to play in 11 personnel - the 35 year old legend has caught all of 11 passes all season. The ground game, led by D'Andre Swift, will naturally remain elite.
The Bucs defense is 14th in DVOA (14th pass, 8th run). Their defensive line has performed poorly this season, in a matchup where I expect them to lose consistently against the Eagles offensive line. They are a blitz happy team - blitzing 39% of the time (3rd most), but still only generate pressure 26.3% of the time (25th most). They rank 22nd in run stop win rate and 17th in pass rush win rate. Shaq Barrett (49 pressures) is the only capable pass rusher on the defensive line, but Philly shouldn't have a problem committing resources to Barrett and allowing the rest of their line to hold up 1 on 1. The have an average corner duo (Jamel Dean/Carlton Davis), an elite linebacker (Levonte David), and arguably the best safety in football (Antoine Winfield Jr). They have a weakness against number 1 receivers (they're 25th in DVOA), making Brown's absence that much more important, and have faired far better against tight ends, where they rank 13th in DVOA.
When Tampa Bay has the ball:
The Bucs offense ranks 20th in DVOA (16th pass/28th run) and 12th in EPA/play. The offensive line is strong at the tackle positions (especially LT Tristian Wirfs), but weak along the interior. Mike Evans/Chris Godwin remains a strong 1-2 punch at receiver, and the Bucs rely on them heaving, collectively accounting for 48.4% of targets (Evans 24.7%, Godwin 23.7%). Baker Mayfield finished 20th in PFF grades and 18th in ESPN's QBR - there really isn't much to add, he's been medicore in all phases of being a quarterback.
The Eagles defense took a major step back this season, ranking 29th in both defensive DVOA and EPA/play. Their defensive line reamins a force, however, finishing 4th in run stop win rate and 6th in pass rush win rate. That said, the "winning" didn't result in pressure as often as one would expect - they finished 25th in pressure rate this season (24th in blitz). The Eagles have too many effective pass rushers to continue on the trend of not getting to the quarterback, and I'm inclined to trust the win rate metrics. Rookie Jalen Carter had the best PFF pass rush grade on the team this season, and since Carter lines up on the inside, he'll have an advantage against the Bucs weak interior. Meanwhile, Josh Sweat, Hasson Reddick, Fletcer Cox, and Brandon Graham all continue to play well on the edge, giving the Eagles the ability to keep fresh legs on the field. The Eagles problems stem from both their corners (Darius Slay and James Bradberry) taking major steps backwards this season. Both have been elite for virtually their entire careers, but Bradberry in particular has struggled this year, allowing a 108.6 passer rating into his coverage. The Eagles duo have a strong safety tandem (Reed Blankenship/Kevin Byard), but if the corners aren't able to win against Evans/Godwin, it's easy to see Tampa keeping pace with an AJ Brownless Eagles offense.