Posted January 03, 2014

The Playbook: Previewing 49ers-Packers, Eagles-Saints, more wild-card games

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

Two-Minute Drill

• Matchup to Watch:

Vernon Davis vs. ???  Sorry for the incomplete answer there. However, it remains to be seen what the Packers can do in hopes of limiting Davis. The 49ers’ tight end scored twice with 98 yards receiving back in Week 1 versus Green Bay.

The real problem is that the Packers do not have anyone who matches up all that well with Davis. (Granted, few teams do.) A.J. Hawk’s not a great answer, so the Packers may opt to bring a safety down for that responsibility. Likely, Green Bay will mix and match coverages with various defenders, hoping to at least give Davis some different looks. – CB

– Eagles OLB Trent Cole vs. Saints LT Terron Armstead. Saints head coach Sean Payton benched left tackle Charles Brown after New Orleans’ Week 15 loss to the St. Louis Rams and replaced him with Armstead, the third-round rookie from Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Armstead became a scouting combine star for his athleticism, but he’s had trouble solving NFL defensive lines and has allowed three sacks in two starts. Cole has been an underrated force for the Eagles all season — his sack total (eight) doesn’t pop off the stat sheet, but he’s also an exceptional run-stopper.

Asked on Friday if the Saints would give Armstead help against him, Cole replied simply, “They’d better.” – DF

• Pressure’s On …:

– Andy Dalton, Bengals. This may be too obvious an answer, but until Dalton starts getting the job done in the playoffs, there are going to be questions about the Bengals’ ceiling with him at the helm. It would be unfair to hang all of Cincinnati’s past two playoff exits on Dalton’s shoulders, but he has a postseason QB rating of 48.6 and has yet to throw a TD pass in 72 attempts. For the Bengals to beat San Diego, Dalton must be on his game. – CB

– San Diego’s defense. While Andy Dalton’s playoff performances have been far from impressive, they came in two games against Houston Texans defenses that were optimally constructed to take streaky quarterbacks like Dalton out of his game. Dalton is still off-and-on, but he’s got another year of experience, and second-year receiver Marvin Jones adds to his list of targets. Meanwhile, the Chargers have the league’s worst defense per Football Outsiders’ metrics, and they’re in the bottom three against Nos. 1, 2, and 3 receivers. – DF

• This Week’s Sleeper:

– Mark Ingram, Saints. Remember him? He actually performed relatively well this season considering his limited chances — 4.9 yards on 78 rushing attempts; 9.7 yards per reception. Pierre Thomas sat out practice Wednesday with a chest injury, meaning the Saints might need someone to provide a little boost in the ground game. Ingram could find himself with an increased role Saturday. – CB

– Riley Cooper, Eagles. No surprise that DeSean Jackson is Philly’s most efficient and effective receiver, but the guy in second place may surprise you — it’s Riley Cooper, who has managed to regain the trust of his team after his regrettable racial outburst in 2013. Cooper is averaging 17.8 yards per catch on 47 receptions, and he’s been a top-20 receiver when opponent adjustments are taken into account. If New Orleans’ defense spends too much time worrying about Jackson and LeSean McCoy, Cooper has the talent to burn them. He’s especially effective when asked to get open on seam routes, where quick cuts in space are the order of the day. – DF

• Rookie Spotlight:

– Eric Reid, 49ers. Reid had an interception of Aaron Rodgers and seven tackles in the 49ers’ Week 1 win over Green Bay. San Francisco could use a similar performance Sunday, as the Packers figure to test Reid and his fellow defensive backs early and often. Randall Cobb’s return to the lineup will make their job even more difficult, expanding the areas that Rodgers can attack. – CB

– Kenny Stills, Saints. Speaking of FO metrics, you’d probably guess for quite a while before coming up with the NFL’s most valuable per-play receiver in the 2013 regular season. It’s Stills, the fifth-rounder from Oklahoma who’s tied with Marques Colston among New Orleans’ receivers for touchdowns with five. No Saints receiver has had more deep targets than Stills’ 14, and all five of his touchdowns came on plays in which the ball traveled 20 or more yards in the air. – DF


1 2

14 comments
tbbully
tbbully

People forget that in almost every game that the Packers have given up points...it has been due to crappy QB play  when Rogers has been out...in almost every game at least 7 points has been attributed to QB miscues...not defensive mistakes.  Opposing teams have had more opportunities with Rodgers out.  That will not happen this Sunday..and I will take Rodgers over Kappernick..ANY DAY OF THE WEEK....Packers will win this game.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

Four out of four for the home teams.  Unless KC beats the Colts.

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

Packers and Saints are going to lose. 


Colts and Bengals will probably win.

friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

i hate Both teams but one has to win... Bleep it...!!!  i take the Eagles because Brees is overrated ... he can't carry a team to save his life, he needs great conditions and receivers running wide open... The only reason Brees won a super bowl is because he had a bigger choker taking spans on the opposite team... Screw these stats padders throwing 50 times and game because of the offense they are in....  and then loser announcers, TV broadcasters anointing these M-Fers as elite... Elite my A$$

Big Ben is WAY more Elite than Brees ....but  few people would agree... for one Ben can't stop raping and two Ben does not put up the yardage and TD's

MarkCalasade
MarkCalasade

I'm a lifelong Cowboys' fan. You can imagine how much I dislike the Eagles. That said, Brees and Payton are both punks and I hope the Eagles spank them hard.

Richard--Ramirez
Richard--Ramirez

Thanks packers fans for proving you are a pathetic fanbase.


Bengals fans I can forgive because you never see them on here spouting off about how supposedly great their fanbase is.

chap
chap

@Richard--Ramirez Packer fans sold out Lambeau for the 320th consecutive game. . . how does your franchise compare?


RCH
RCH

@Richard--Ramirez Too bad your comment wasn't  made before the 1st because you would have been assured of winning the stupidest comment of the year award.


This isn't about showing up for church on Sunday, its about spending $350 for a ticket plus all the extras and then add sitting in weather that Jim Cantore would consider dangerous.

Chris8
Chris8

@Richard--RamirezMore like thanks NFL for finally pushing fans to the breaking point.  Doesn't matter how loyal a fanbase is, eventually it just doesn't make sense to spend the ridiculous prices that you have to in order to see a product that can be viewed just as easily from home; and for far less money.


In the case of the Packers; asking fans to go out into that kind of weather for 3 hours where even if they were jumping up and down non-stop (unlikely) would still be dangerous; is just stupid.


Fan loyalty is all well and good until it gets in the way of practical thinking.  At that point people need to grow up and use their heads.  Is that ok with you?

donald5
donald5

@Richard--Ramirez So you think people should buy tickets they maybe can't afford just to prove they are good fanbase?

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

@RCH LOL, you used the word "stupidest" !! Too bad you didn't make this comment before the 1st or you would have won the Most Stupid Comment of the Year.  LMAO!

opaque2
opaque2

It's more than that. Packers season ticket holders had to order playoff tickets well before it was clear they were in. So, you say. Well they were also told if the Packers did not make the playoffs the money would not be refunded, but applied to their ticket order for the 2014 regular season. Not only big bucks, but with significant potential to wind up being an interest free loan to the team.

donald5
donald5

@PhillyPenn @RCH For someone who uses "LOL" and "LMAO" as though they are part of your sentences, you seem to be pretty strict about the proper superlative use of a word.