DraftKings Championship Week Slate Breakdown
On a day where it’s guaranteed that one of Jeff Fisher’s quarterbacks from the 2015 Rams will go to the Super Bowl, and where Blake Bortles also has a chance to go to the Super Bowl, the Patriots remain the one constant from yesteryear. Despite facing the league’s No. 2 scoring defense, New England’s implied team total currently sits at 27.25 points—6.5 points higher than any other team on the slate. The three most expensive players on this final slate of the NFL season are Patriots, meaning that just as the final resting place of the Lombardi trophy has done for most of this decade, the slate hinges on the performance of Bill Belichick’s troops.
Luckily for us, Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have been, dare I say, predictable this season in terms of zeroing in on an opponent’s specific weakness and exploiting it. While the Patriots passed on 59% of plays this season, they ran more than they passed in both games this season against the Bills, who ranked 11th in yards per pass allowed but 23rd in yards per rush allowed. And last week against a Titans defense ranked fourth in yards per rush allowed but 13th in yards per pass, the Patriots upped their pass rate to 66%, also upping their rate of passes to running backs, which was the Titans defense’s most glaring weakness.
The Jaguars finished first in yards per pass allowed but just 26th in yards per rush allowed, so the Patriots should be expected to feature the run more than usual. And as Warren Sharp points out, the Jags D becomes mediocre when not facing 3+ wide receiver sets, so we should also expect more heavy personnel than usual—even when New England goes to the air.
Instead of position-by-position, I'll run through the slate offense-by-offense this week: