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Lunchbreak: PFF Breaks Down 'Legitimate Case' for Kendricks as DPOY

Eric Kendricks is at the top of the list for Pro Bowl snubs this year, but analytics site Pro Football Focus is continuing to bang a drum for the Vikings linebacker.

PFF's Sam Monson broke down a convincing case for Kendricks as 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

According to PFF, Kendricks is the highest-graded linebacker in overall PFF grade (90.7) and has one of the best coverage grades (85.9).

Monson wrote that Kendricks "hasn't registered a single interception … but we know that isn't the best way to measure coverage."

Interceptions are unreliable and transient. It's not that they're 'lucky' plays, but being presented with the opportunity to make those plays — particularly for a linebacker — does rely on fortune. Think of the many plays where a quarterback simply doesn't see the underneath linebacker sitting in a zone or dropping to a spot underneath a pass pattern and tries to put the ball right through him to his intended receiver. The linebacker makes a good play to locate it and pick it off, but the opportunity to make that play can be completely dependent on a mistake from the quarterback, and other players simply don't get that chance.

While Kendricks doesn't have any interceptions, he does lead all linebackers in the NFL with 12 pass breakups.

That's three more than any other player at the position, the most we have ever seen from a linebacker with two games still to play, and actually ranks fourth league-wide behind three cornerbacks.

Pass breakups are a particular statistical category that necessitates contact on the football, but there are other ways of directly breaking up a pass that we also track. If we roll up all of these plays in coverage, we create a statistic known as 'forced incompletions.' Kendricks leads all linebackers in forced incompletion (FINC) rate at 21.9 [percent], more than four percentage points higher than any other linebacker. Again, this is the best mark we've ever seen from a linebacker. And among all defenders this season Kendricks ranks fourth, behind three cornerbacks all enjoying excellent seasons.

To see Monson's complete case for Kendricks, click here.

Hunter named NFL's Way to Play Week 15 winner

It's been a big month for Danielle Hunter.

The 25-year-old became the youngest player in NFL history to record 50 career sacks and earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his Week 14 performance against the Lions.

On Friday, the NFL announced that Hunter is the Way to Play Award winner for his outing against the Chargers in Week 15.

The NFL Way to Play Award recognizes the best examples of playing technique each week of the regular season and playoffs.

At Los Angeles, Hunter recorded five tackles (coaches' tally), 1.0 sack, one tackle for loss, three quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Packers, Vikings are 'mirror images in key stats'

The Vikings are prepping to host the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium for what is sure to be an electric Monday Night Football showdown.

If Green Bay wins, it secures the NFC North crown. If Minnesota wins, the division remains open for the taking until Week 17.

Bill Huber of Sports Illustrated's PackerMaven pointed out that Green Bay's statistics in several categories are less-than-flashy this season. He wrote:

Two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers is merely 10th in passer rating, a figure built on his 24 touchdowns vs. two interceptions but weighed down by ranking 18th in completion percentage and 15th in yards per attempt.

[…]

On the other side of the ball, Green Bay is 23rdin total defense, 24th versus the run and 22nd_ versus the pass._

Combine the pop-gun offense and leaky defense, and the Packers have been outgained by 34.6 yards per game – the ninth-worst figure in the league.

Huber did, however, highlight three key stats in which the Packers and Vikings are almost "mirror images."

Turnovers: Green Bay is second in giveaways (nine) and seventh in takeaways (23) to rank second overall at plus-14. Minnesota is eighth in giveaways (16) and fourth in takeaways (27) to rank fourth overall at plus-11.

Red zone: The Packers red-zone touchdown rate of 68.9 percent is second in the NFL. Minnesota is fourth at 66.0 percent. Defensively, the Vikings are fourth (47.5 percent) and the Packers are fifth (48.9 percent).

Penalties: According to NFLPenalties.com, Green Bay has been guilty of 88 penalties, the eighth-fewest in the league. Minnesota has been flagged 90 times, the 10th-fewest. Green Bay's 657 penalty yards are the third-fewest in the NFL.

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