Sep 24, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets safety Terrence Brooks (23) intercepts a pass intended for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Leonte Carroo (88) on a fake punt in the 2nd half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
The NFL regular season is rapidly approaching. Soon, talks of the top players and best teams will flood social media as each team’s fanbase will champion for their guys. One of those key components to be considered a top player is how well they stack up against their divisional rivals.
In our last look back at the 2017 season, we take a glimpse at the players who have the highest grades against their division rivals from a season ago. We’ll take a look at the top-10 grades on offense and defense only on contests against their respective divisions. How well did your favorite players play against the division last year? Don’t see them below? Grab a PFF Elite subscription for access to Premium Stats 2.0 to find out for yourself.
Overall Grade against AFC East teams: 86.2
All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski has dominated AFC East defenses throughout the last decade, and the trend continued last season with an overall grade of 86.2 against division foes. On 138 snaps in route, he caught 25-of-36 targets for 379 yards, generating a 131.8 passer rating. His five touchdowns against the AFC East led all receivers in the division, while his 2.75 yards per route run ranked first among tight ends. Gronkowski isn’t showing signs of slowing down any time soon and will continue to be a match-up nightmare within the division.
Overall Grade against AFC East teams: 83.9
To the delight of division rivals, Dion Lewis moved on from the AFC East during the offseason, but last season, Lewis was a force in the running game and as a pass catcher out of the backfield against the AFC East. The dual-threat back ranked first with 495 rushing yards in division play on 96 rushing attempts, and he was easily the most elusive back in the AFC East, forcing 22 missed tackles in the running game, doubling the next closest runner. As a receiver, Lewis finished with 17 receptions, a 100.0 percent catch rate and his 134.1 passer rating when targeted ranked first among all running backs within the division. Lewis will continue to be a menace out of the backfield with the Tennessee Titans in 2018.
Overall Grade against AFC East teams: 82.9
A longtime left tackle for quarterback Tom Brady, Nate Solder has also moved on from the AFC East this offseason. Solder was solid in pass protection last season during divisional play allowing a pressure rate of 7.08% on 212 pass block snaps. Solder finished with a 75.0 pass blocking grade against the division, and of his 15 pressures allowed, only one resulted in a sack. AFC East pass rushers now have hopes of taking down Tom Brady in division play this season as Solder will be protecting the blind side for Eli Manning and the New York Giants this season.
Overall Grade against AFC East teams: 81.8
Another anchor along the Patriots offensive line last season, Shaq Mason, finished with an 82.3 pass blocking grade which ranked second among guards in the division. Entering his fourth season in 2018, Mason allowed only eight total pressures on 217 pass block…