Posted November 29, 2013

The Playbook: Previewing Seahawks-Saints, Chiefs-Broncos, more Week 13 games

AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, NFC East, NFC North, NFC South, NFC West, The Playbook

Undercards

Tampa Bay (3-8) at Carolina (8-3) — 1 p.m. ET, FOX: Their mirror-image records notwithstanding, the Panthers know that the Bucs are a tough out right now. Greg Schiano’s team has won three straight after an 0-8 start, Mike Glennon is the league’s best rookie quarterback, and Tampa Bay’s defense has enough to give Cam Newton a Grade-A headache. The Panthers are winning the kinds of games they used to lose, but this is the kind of trap game that gives coaches headaches of their own. –  DF

Miami (5-6) at NY Jets (5-6) — 1 p.m. ET, CBS: The battle for second place in the AFC East also holds substantial importance in the conference’s wild-card chase. And this is just the first of two meetings between these rivals in 2013 — the second comes in Week 17. Lamar Miller and the Dolphins’ run game has struggled in two of the past three weeks. A matchup with the Jets’ top-ranked run defense doesn’t figure to help matters, meaning Ryan Tannehill may have to get the job done himself. – CB

Chicago (6-5) at Minnesota (2-8-1) – 1 p.m. ET, FOX: Speaking of upset alerts, how about Adrian Peterson against a Bears defense that ranks dead last in the NFL with 145.2 yards allowed per game? New head coach Marc Trestman seems to have the offense on lock whether it’s Jay Cutler or Josh McCown at quarterback, but last Sunday’s 42-21 loss to the Rams proves that Chicago can be vulnerable against power-based offenses with unimpressive quarterbacks. – DF

St. Louis (5-6) at San Francisco (7-4) — 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX: As intriguing an under-the-radar option as the Week 13 slate offers. The 49ers are clinging to the NFC’s second wild card, while St. Louis has found some traction in recent weeks. San Francisco dominated an earlier matchup, 35-11 in St. Louis, but this is a better, more confident Rams team than the 49ers saw then. The Rams’ upset bid will take a serious hit if rookie RB Zac Stacy is not cleared after suffering a concussion last week. – CB

Cincinnati (7-4) at San Diego (5-6) — 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS: This game’s early pick-’em line confirms that distinguishing between these two inconsistent teams right now is darn near impossible. San Diego does have four (of its five) wins over teams currently tied for or in first place. And Cincinnati is just 2-4 away from home so far, with two OT losses on a recent road trip. Philip Rivers, with his 70.8-percent completion rate, will test Cincinnati’s banged-up secondary. – CB

Only For The Faithful

Jacksonville (2-9) at Cleveland (4-7) — 1 p.m. ET, CBS: Brandon Weeden will replace the concussed Jason Campbell as the Browns’ starting quarterback, which is good news for a suddenly sparky Jags defense. Jacksonville has won two of its last three games, and Weeden has looked overwhelmed in nearly every one of his performances this season. — DF

New England (8-3) at Houston (2-9) — 1 p.m. ET, CBS: The Texans have deemed this their “Homecoming” game for 2013. Might not be too much celebrating going on. Houston’s only hope of stopping a nine-game losing streak might be catching the Patriots on an emotional downswing after their dramatic win over Denver. – CB

Atlanta (2-9) at Buffalo (4-7) – 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX: Subjecting Canada to the Falcons offense and in-game strategy calls won’t do much for relations between the two countries, but the Bills could benefit, as their defense has been on the upswing and quarterback EJ Manuel is starting to round into form after an injury-plagued early part of his rookie season. – DF

NY Giants (4-7) at Washington (3-8) — 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC: Last season, these teams battled right down to Week 17 for the NFC East. This year? Both are all but done by Week 13. A Giants D that’s played well for the past five games could be a tough draw for the ever-struggling Robert Griffin III. – CB

Smarter Stats

• Wondering why Chip Kelly named Nick Foles his starting quarterback for the rest of the season? Wonder no more. In November, Foles completed 51-of-72 passes for 932 yards, 10 touchdowns no interceptions. His subsequent 152.8 November passer rating is the NFL’s all-time mark for any quarterback in a month — ever. Foles has 16 touchdown passes this season, and he still hasn’t thrown a pick.

Of course, Foles may have a tougher time against Arizona’s defense this Sunday, and defensive lineman Calais Campbell is a primary reason. Campbell has been blowing up offensive lines all season in Todd Bowles’ scheme at both end and tackle — among players classified as 3-4 ends, only J.J. Watt and Cameron Jordan have more total pressures than Campbell’s 46.

• One trend we’ve seen more and more in recent years is the use of top receivers in the slot to create matchup nightmares against third cornerbacks, box safeties and linebackers. Among the leaders through Week 12 of this season: 202 of Larry Fitzgerald’s 416 pass routes have come from the slot (48.6 percent), Brandon Marshall has lined up there on 196 of his 426 routes (45.9 percent) and even Calvin Johnson is spending a lot more time inside with 112 of his 421 routes (26.6 percent). Marshall is the most effective of the “X-iso” guys from the slot with five touchdowns, but Johnson has four scores on just 26 targets and 14 catches from the slot.

• And the best matchups for those big slot guys? The best third cornerbacks include Buffalo’s appropriately-named Nickell Robey (51.8 quarterback rating allowed), Philly’s Brandon Boykin (four interceptions from the slot) and Arizona’s Tyrann Mathieu (a 59.5 QB rating allowed and two picks). Atlanta’s Robert McClain has had the toughest time in that spot, giving up 24 catches, 360 yards, three touchdowns and a 152.9 quarterback rating on 29 slot targets.

• After a nice start to the season from a pass-blocking perspective, it would appear that the Bears are regressing a bit. They lead the league with 174 total pressures allowed, though they’ve allowed just 10 sacks, and rookie right tackle Jordan Mills leads all linemen with 64 total pressures. Add their iffy run defense to the equation, and it would seem that the Bears are falling apart from the inside out. – DF

Two-Minute Drill

• Matchup to Watch: Chicago’s linebackers vs. Adrian Peterson.

What in the world has happened to the Bears’ run defense? Chicago has allowed six straight teams to run for more than 100 yards, capped by St. Louis’ 258-yard outburst last Sunday. At 145.2 yards allowed per game, Chicago currently sits dead last in the league in that category.

And now … Adrian Peterson (and Toby Gerhart) await Sunday, off 237 yards at Green Bay last week. Christian Ponder threw for 227 yards in an earlier matchup this season, a 31-30 Bears win back in Week 2, but the Vikings figure to hammer the football between the tackles early and often this time around. If Chicago’s front seven cannot put up at least a little resistance, it might be in line for a repeat of that letdown vs. the Rams.

• This Week’s Sleeper: Marquise Goodwin, WR, Bills.

Buffalo’s hoping to have both Robert Woods and Stevie Johnson back this Sunday against Atlanta, but it still will be difficult to keep the ball out of Goodwin’s hands. The rookie stepped up in Week 12 with six grabs for 81 yards and a touchdown, and QB EJ Manuel stated this week that the Bills want to feed Goodwin a bit.

Some potential winter weather might be more of a hindrance for Manuel’s passing attack than the struggling Atlanta D. If the rookie QB can navigate the wind and snow, Goodwin could benefit.

• Pressure’s On …: Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos.

Feels odd to throw down the gauntlet for Manning, but off another cold-weather letdown last week, he and his team could use an emphatic response this Sunday in Kansas City. That the Chiefs and Broncos are knotted atop the AFC West only heightens the stakes awaiting Manning in Week 13. Denver coughed away its divisional cushion with that epic collapse in Foxborough, leaving little room for error.

• Rookie Spotlight: Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers.

Allen has been everything and more that San Diego could have hoped as a rookie. He’s without question the first WR option Philip Rivers looks for in the passing game, as evidenced by the 124 yards and nine grabs he posted last week in an upset win at Kansas City. This week, he gets another stingy secondary: Cincinnati’s. The Chargers need him to stay hot, though, if they’re going to stick in the playoff chase.  – CB

Must-Win Watch

• Indianapolis. Owner Jim Irsay called out his team for a recent lack of effort, so the Colts should be itching to respond Sunday. If they don’t do so against the Titans, their AFC South lead will be down to just one game. – CB

 New York Jets — Rex Ryan’s team has lost three of its last four games, Geno Smith has fallen off the rookie wall, the Patriots are running away with the AFC East, and if the Jets lose to the Dolphins on Sunday, that will likely be the end of their hopes as a wild-card contender. – DF


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29 comments
thetotalbs
thetotalbs

Some potential upset picks on the board today - hot rams big dog at SF, Browns have lost five of six, but still a TD fave? KC revenge dog home to Broncos, suddenly hot Bucs could stay within 7.5 spread at Carolina.  Looking forward to big NFL Sunday - follow @thetotalbs for in-game analysis today!

anon76
anon76

"The following week saw the Patriots handle the Broncos in overtime"

Handle the Broncos?  The Broncos moved the ball 32 and 50 yards for 4 first downs on their two overtime possessions, crossing into New England territory both times.  The Broncos D, on the other hand, held the NE offense (going with the wind) to 42 yard total and 2 first downs on their overtime possession.  Had the ball not taken a fortuitous New England bounce off a punt, then the narrative from the game would have been the resilience of the Broncos coming back to tie it after New England had taken a 7 point lead in the 4th.

MichaelO'Connor
MichaelO'Connor

" If the rookie QB can navigate the wind and snow, Goodwin could benefit."

They're playing in a dome Bozo

George
George

I read somewhere that the "sea-hens" would be exPOSED in this game.   Time will tell.

JensenNSchimino
JensenNSchimino

I don't know how anyone could root for the seahawks, the proven biggest cheaters in the league, as well as the most arrogant. I have zero respect for that team. They've built up nothing but bad karma, now it's all coming back on them. They deserve to crash and burn the rest of the way.

JPG
JPG

In a home game where Seattle has not lost in 13 games, where Russell Wilson has never lost, where the Seahawks have the best winning percentage of all time for Monday Night Games and currently is riding a 7 game MNF winning streak and where the game in all likelyhood will land the Seahawks at home the January 19 NFC Championship Game I look for Seattle to make a statement  to the rest of the NFC in this game.

Look for Seattle to win this game going away.  Not a blow out like SF earlier but a statement.

DeeEmm1
DeeEmm1

X-iso more like the Marques Colston role. He's been sliding into the slot since he came into the league, that's how he became the Saints' all-time leading receiver in just about every category.

EtienneThibault
EtienneThibault

@George You mean for the sake of all the "old best teams" in the league will somebody please beat Seattle?  Those days are over Georgie!  Seattle is the new best thing buddy and I want everybody to know it! 

EtienneThibault
EtienneThibault

@JensenNSchimino Show me one team that hasn't got a few creeps on it Jensen,  Just because the Seahawks make your team look like a bunch of girls, don't hate.

TjQuandt
TjQuandt

If you consider smoking weed cheating. I think the arrogance is mostly from the fans. But in their defence they have never had a sports team of any sort of quality. I think they are a bit overly excited.

therednorth1
therednorth1

@JensenNSchimino You're talking about a league in which players getting suspended for steroid use/substance abuse is the norm, not the outlier; and where four game suspensions happen followed by no one blinking when they get back.

If using steroids is bad (and it is), maybe the NFL should introduce harsher penalties instead of looking the other way.

JPG
JPG

@JensenNSchimino Dude, maybe it's time for you to get a puppy or something.  Or perhaps turning towards the NBA.

FranklinMint
FranklinMint

@JPG Yeah, no, I don't expect the team that nearly lost to TB at home to win this going away. 

NO takes it.

sethley
sethley

@TjQuandt Actually the SuperSonics of the mid 90s were a very dominate team... just happened to be right in the middle of the Jordan Bulls

EtienneThibault
EtienneThibault

@therednorth1 @JensenNSchimino Weed Jensen.  It's not a steroid.  Get a life!  Seattle has ten guys above Browner who are all leaders and good Christians.  Whatcha got to say about that?  SEAHAWKS!!!

JensenNSchimino
JensenNSchimino

Maybe it's time for you to stop giving people you don't know advice.

the3rdpower
the3rdpower

@FranklinMint @JPG If you watched the game you would see the critical blown call in the first quarter that Earl Thomas clearly intercepted the ball.  Interesting enough the NFL said that the penalty he had was actually wrong...  He should have gotten the interception, therefore, preventing a score that run. 

kevred
kevred

@FranklinMint You mean the New Orleans team that also barely beat TB, 16-14, at home earlier this season? And lost to the Jets? 

It's fine to root for NO, but hopefully with better criteria than this.

GOOGLE ......Mae Brussel
GOOGLE ......Mae Brussel

@George @EtienneThibault       hens ??  wow, thats just so sweet of you Georgee-boy !    Did you lose sleep lat night thinking up that ? Wow  -   That is very congenial  ! ! !


ps:  sweet pic too !

JesseLow
JesseLow

@JensenNSchimino Yeah it makes sense that two players have had multiple hits so then the entire team should crash and burn for the stupidity of 2 to 3 people. Guess what, when they get caught once, they are on the radar and get tested more frequently. I would bet a months pay that every other team in the NFL has the same issues, they just do not get caught. You would have to be pretty ignorant to think that the Seahawks are the only team doing it. Being number 1 in the NFL at the moment and having recent violators is what is putting them under the microscope. This is the National Football League not the National Peewee Football league.  Also, random drug test do not test for steroids so before you spout off with, yeah but all teams get tested. Not everyone gets tested for steroids unless they are suspected of using. It is an entirely different test.