Week 17 of the NFL regular season has an adequate amount of intrigue. The New York Jets can end a four-year playoff drought with a win in Buffalo, while the Viking and Packers will have a showdown at Lambeau Field for the NFC North crown. The winner of that one also gets the No. 3 seed and accompanying home game in the playoffs' first round.
Both of those games feature a significant statistical mismatch in a particular area, which could play a big role in the eventual outcome. The Bills figure to have a tough time sustaining drives on third downs against the Jets, the numbers show. Meanwhile, the Packers figure to get a healthy dose of NFL leading rusher Adrian Peterson given how they've defended the run.
In addition to those featured games, a few other statistical matchups in games featuring teams just playing out the string will be noted. But first, the big ones.
New York Jets (-3) at Buffalo Bills
Jets 3rd down Defense vs. Bills 3rd Down Offense
The Jets' defense is a stout unit across the board, and a big factor in this is its excellent work on 3rd-down situations. New York has allowed opponents to convert just 32.1 percent of 3rd-down conversions, which is the second-best mark in the NFL.
As for the Bills, they can put part of the blame of their lost season on their inability to convert on third down. Buffalo ranks 21st in the league in that department with a strike rate of just 37.2 percent. This week could get particularly sticky for the Bills. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is dealing with an injury to his throwing shoulder and LeSean McCoy is likely out because of a knee injury. This leaves Buffalo diminished offensively. The Bills may need to rely on popping a couple of big plays to stay in this one, which makes the Jets' minus-three look more than fair.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-3)
Adrian Peterson vs. Packers Rush Defense
While Teddy Bridgewater continues to improve, it's still Adrian Peterson and the NFL's fifth-ranked rushing attack that leads the charge for the Vikings. Minnesota has stayed in the NFC North race by rushing for 137.3 yards per game as a team. Peterson leads the NFL in rushing with 1,418 yards.
Green Bay ranks 21st in the NFL with 116.9 rushing yards allowed per game this season.
Back in Week 11, Green Bay did a good job containing the Vikings ground game in a 30-13 win. Peterson was held to just 45 yards on 13 carries and the Vikings finished with only 94 rushing yards as a team. But since then, Green Bay has given up 100-plus rushing yards in five straight games, including 171 yards to Dallas three weeks ago.
This week, Green Bay may also be without run-stopping defensive tackle B.J Raji. He has been in the NFL's concussion protocol since Sunday's loss to Arizona. Raji's loss would provide a rather big void up front for the Packers.
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-4)
Darren McFadden vs. Redskins Rush Defense
This one has no playoff implications as the Redskins are locked in as the No. 4 seed, which probably explains the big line movement for a game that opened as a pick'em. Coach Jay Gruden acknowledged this week that he may rest some players for next week's playoff game. One matchup that backs the heavy Cowboys' support is McFadden facing off with the NFL's 26th-ranked run defense. The Redskins have allowed 124.1 yards per game on the ground. Two weeks ago against the Bills they were gashed for 240 rushing yards.
McFadden has had a virtually injury-free season for a change and is on the brink of 1,000 rushing yards. Perhaps he can end the year with a bang in Big D.
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