Fun NextGen Stats from the Divisional Round

By Rhys Knott

This week’s fun NextGen stats show it’s a good week to be a young pass rusher or a returning kicks. Being indoors helped too. And that suggests next week’s games will throw up some interesting numbers.

NextGen Fastest Carries

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Although he led the league in kick return yards Keisean Nixon hasn’t had the mind-blowing season he had zas a kick returner in 2022 (his 782 yards was 227 fewer than last year). That’s mainly because all the Packers injuries have forced him into a more prominent role on defense. But he pulled a big return out of his bag of tricks on Saturday. His 73-yard kick return was his longest of the season. And he clocked 20.37 whilst doing it. That was no mean feet given how players were sliding around in the wet conditions in Santa Clara. 

Another special teams play saw the second fastest carry of the week. Steven Sims did his very best to keep the Texans in the game against the Ravens with his punt return TD. Sims ran it straight down the middle of the field while the Ravens’ defense parted like the Red Sea. Sims travelled at 19.76 mph on his way to the endzone. 

Another Packer is third on this list, the old stager Aaron Jones. Jones doesn’t look like a 29 year old running back when he gets the ball in his hands. He carried the ball 18 times and caught 3 passes against the 49ers for a total of 116 yards. The fastest of his 21 carries saw him clock 19,64 mph. 

There’s another Packer at four too, Jayden Reed wasn’t as involved in the offense as Jones was, in fact he only had 5 touches. But he did hit 19.41 mph on his only rushing attempt of the game. 

Jahmyr Gibbs was the fastest rookie of the Divisional round. The Lions’ young running back led their running attack with 74 yards from just 9 attempts. He also caught all 4 of his targets for 40 yards. Gibbs traveled at 19.23 mph as he took a 31-yard run to the house. 

NextGen Remarkable Rushes

Aaron Jones is back, but this time he’s top of the list. Jones’ longest run of the weekend went for 53 yards and it looked like he had won the game for the Packers. But according to the NextGen algorithm it should have only gone for 2! Jones’ 51 yards is the 17th most over expected all season. 

The man with the longest run over expected all season, Christian McCaffrey is second this week. McCaffrey went 69 yards over expected against the Seahawks back in Week 14. This week he only went 34 yards over expected against the Packers defense. But his 2 rushing downs did see the 49ers into the Conference Championship game. 

Jahmyr Gibbs is back too (well, there were only 8 teams playing after all). Gibbs’ remarkable rush was the 31-yard attempt that he took to the endzone. His scoring effort should have only gone for 4 yards! His 27 yards over expected was the Lions’ only entry in the top 20 this week (Aaron Jones has 4). 

Isiah Pacheco is the first Chief in the top 5. The all action back ended the game in Buffalo with 97 rushing yards and 14 yards on 1 catch. The Bills defense eventually succombed to an unbelievable number of injuries. Pacheco went 25 yards over expected when he ran for 29 yards on a carry that should have only gone for 4 yards. 

Fellow Chief Clyde Edwards-Helaire rounds out the top 5. CEH only had 2 carries, but his average of 15.5 yards per carry suggest he should have had more. He took one carry that was expected to go for 5 yards for 28! 

Fastest Sacks

Rushing the passer is a young mans game. At least it was this week, with only one of the fastest sacks being made by a player over the age of 25. Aidan Hutchinson continues to make Jaguars fans wish Trent Baalke could have just picked a Michigan player with the first draft pick. Hutchinson made a tackle for a loss, hit the QB 3 times and made the fastest sack of the week. It took Hutchinson just 2.77 seconds to get Baker Mayfield on the floor. 

In that same game (because playing indoors in January actually helps defensive linemen get some traction) rookie Calijah Kancey made the second fastest sack of the weekend. The 19th overall pick looks like he could be the Bucs draft pick since Antoine Winfield Jr. Kancey ended his rookie year with 4.5 sacks and stuffed 9 runs. He recorded a tackle for a loss and even deflected a pass in Detroit. His sack took 2.97 seconds. 

Ifeatu Melifonwu is practically a veteran compared to the first two guys and he’s only 24! Defensive back Melifonwu had 3 sacks during the regular season and he recorded 1.5 sacks, a tackle for a loss and he led the Lions with 9 total tackles. His fastest sack took him 3.07 seconds. 

Another 24 year old is 4th this week, Kurt Hinnish of the Texans now has 2 sacks in 2 playoff games. He only had 3 tackles on Saturday, one of them was a tackle for a loss. And he took just 3.74 seconds to record his sack in a very chilly Baltimore. 

Finally an old head appears, Lavonte David has won a Super Bowl and been named an All-Pro during his 12 year career. The linebacker led the Bucs defense with 13 tackles (the most in the entire game) and 2 tackles for a loss. His sack took him 3,9 seconds. 



Rhys has been watching the NFL for 30 something years and still hasn’t managed to pick a team to support. When he’s not fixatED on pass rushers you can find him blithering on about most sports on Twitter @wrhys_writes