Blog Entry

Keep an Eye on: Week 16's finer points

Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:41 am
Edited on: December 22, 2011 10:44 am
Julius Peppers will play a big role in stopping Aaron Rodgers. (Getty Images)
Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Packers vs. Bears
The question is, What did the Chiefs do to make the Packers imperfect, and can the Bears do it too? In short, the Chiefs did nothing special. They ate up clock offensively, running on early downs and sustaining drives with conversions on several third-and-manageable situations. They stayed in base personnel That kept the Packers in their base 3-4, which is plainer than rice cake compared to the blitzes and disguises from their nickel and dime packages. Against that front, Kyle Orton was able to manipulate the defense with play action and eye movement.

Defensively, the Chiefs played press-man against the Packers’ receivers, which the Chiefs had just enough resources to do given Greg Jennings was out. They often rushed only three and forced Aaron Rodgers to beat them from the pocket. Normally, Rodgers would do that with ease, but Sunday he was uncharacteristically jumpy.

The Bears can certainly play this rudimentary style of football – any team can. But that doesn’t mean it will work for them. It hasn’t worked for them yet, after all. Caleb Hanie has been asked to manage the game and has often responded by ruining it (three interceptions in three of his four starts). With no staple ground attack, the Bears haven’t even been in position to play dink and dunk football.

Defensively, Chicago has moved away from the archaic Tampa 2 and towards more press coverage schemes. But their press coverage has not been pure man-to-man, perhaps because of Charles Tillman’s limitations in change-of-direction. It’s doubtful the Bears can simply out-execute the Packers’ receivers; instead they’ll need Julius Peppers & Co. to exploit that injury-riddled offensive line.

Cowboys vs. Eagles
Apparently the 2011 Eagles just needed 12 games to find their identity. The last two weeks they’ve looked like what everyone originally expected them to look like. It’s not that the players are finally getting comfortable in the system, it’s that the system has been tweaked and is finally logical.

Defensively, the Eagles have played more press-coverage and have mixed things up in their pass-rush (for example, aligning Trent Cole and Jason Babin at standup inside linebacker positions behind a two-man line against the Jets – a tactic that generated two of Babin’s three sacks).

They’ve moved Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to dime back, giving the slot nickel duties back to Joselio Hanson. They’ve inserted Casey Matthews back into the lineup, not as a starter but as a nickel linebacker, where he’s been fairly comfortable. Thanks to all this (and more), this defense has given up just 29 points and has recorded 11 sacks over the last two games.

Offensively, Philly’s line is doing a much better job picking up blitzes. The receivers are reading coverages and Michael Vick is playing with patience in the pocket. Vick’s limited football IQ has still led to a few unnecessary hits and missed opportunities, but the good has far outweighed the bad.

LeSean McCoy was bottled up by the Dolphins but, working out of spread formations, he produced 102 yards on 18 carries against the Jets. He’s scored five touchdowns the past two games.

The Eagles won their first meeting with the Cowboys handily. Even on the road this week, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them do that again.

Saints vs. Falcons
No one is playing better than Drew Brees right now, though Matt Ryan has played well enough to make the Falcons this year’s Wild Card Team That Nobody Wants to Face.

After an up and down start, Ryan has gotten comfortable with the Falcons’ new pass-oriented system. That system has had them operating out of 11 personnel (one back, one tight end, three wide receivers) in a no-huddle. Ryan has called most of the game at the line of scrimmage.

This has helped Atlanta on several fronts. For one, Michael Turner, though a power back, has been very good running from the wider 2 x 1 receiver formations. In these sets, Turner gets a clearer picture of his running lanes and faces more cornerbacks and fewer linebackers at the second level.

Secondly, the Falcons can create more inside spacing for Tony Gonzalez, which punishes defenses that try to defend him with a linebacker. Defenses that put a safety on Gonzalez are leaving single coverage on either Julio Jones or Roddy White.

Perhaps the best benefit of the hurry-up is, with all the audibling, Ryan controls the pass protections. That’s given Ryan a much better understanding of where the defensive pressure is likely to come from. Ryan’s presnap protection calls will play a huge factor in the outcome Monday night, as the Saints are known for their aggressive blitzes.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 8 games

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Since: May 11, 2007
Posted on: December 23, 2011 11:00 pm

Keep an Eye on: Week 16's finer points

You have made a great comment and have the smarts to back it up.Thanks that help a lot.

Since: Oct 12, 2006
Posted on: December 23, 2011 5:12 pm

Keep an Eye on: Week 16's finer points

Slant is in this article that the Eagles are a big favorite. Cowboys are coming off an equally impressive outing vs the Bucs. Anyway you slice it, this is the 2nd matchup and Dallas is hungry to win the division this weekend. Dallas missed two opportunities this month to lock this up by fg's. They will have to lose out to choke the division awat and that still doesn't guarantee the Eagles the division because the Giants have to lose to the Jets and then beat the Cowboys. Cowboys could win next weekend and still clinch the division. Not sure if there is a media bias to see how this Eagles team would match up head to head vs the Packers in the playoffs. Somehow, I get the sense in the tone of these articles, that the Giants & Cowboys are perceived as teams that won't present the better matchup ? But even there, the Packers get a bye and Eagles, Giants or Cowboys would have to win a wild card game, then most likely a Divisional game before they would play the Packers in an NFC Championship game. Saints & 49ers are still undecided for the 2nd best record for a bye.

Since: Jul 7, 2007
Posted on: December 23, 2011 3:28 pm

Keep an Eye on: Week 16's finer points

Miami is doing very well and the Jets have a good defense two wins in a row with the team finally hitting on all cylinders makes them a team to beat. I hope gmen lose to make the Dallas game a playoff game and the Birds show Dallas some Philly football

Since: Oct 31, 2006
Posted on: December 23, 2011 3:13 pm

Keep an Eye on: Week 16's finer points

What's funny is that the Chiefs are in this exact situation.  Should they be in an 8-8 tie with the Donkeys and any other AFC West team, they win the division.  The difference?  Almost no one gave the Chiefs even the slimmest shot at repeating their playoff appearence, while practically everyone assumed the Eagles would run away with their division.

Looks like KC has done the best with what they had, while Philly has snatched mediocracy from the jaws of dominance.  Either way, the winner of each division is likely to be watching week 2 of the playoffs from their living rooms.

Since: Jan 10, 2010
Posted on: December 23, 2011 2:12 pm

Keep an Eye on: Week 16's finer points

i really think the eagles are gonna win this game handly. i dont think it'll be 34-7 but maybe closer to 31-20. i just think the eagles are playing really well and dallas well when your qb is named tony romo he could just as easily throw for 300 yards as he could throw 3 ints. i thnk the eagles turnovers and win over the cow-GIRLS

Since: Sep 17, 2011
Posted on: December 23, 2011 2:07 pm

Keep an Eye on: Week 16's finer points

gonna look forward to the cowboys getting pounded again by the eagles and then watching Jerry Jones with that look on his face. For the eagles to still have a chance to make the playoffs is crazy...the giants have to do their part and lose to the jets and then watch out cowboy guys will be eating your words

Since: Mar 22, 2011
Posted on: December 23, 2011 11:52 am

Keep an Eye on: Week 16's finer points

It's not going to matter after them Boys whoop the E-Gals and the Giants continue their annual second half meltdown with a loss to the Jets!


Since: Nov 10, 2006
Posted on: December 23, 2011 10:47 am

Keep an Eye on: Week 16's finer points

"Until then.....they suck!"

Haters gonna hate and you lose all crediblity with this. Not only are the Eagles winning, but they're dismantling teams right now and I guarantee nobody wants to face them in the playoffs. They'll win in Dallas this week (I'll be there tailgating, yeahh buddy!) Should the Giants/Cowboys/Eagles all finish 8-8, it's the Eagles that walk away with this division. I'd hardly say "they suck". In fact, I couldn't say ANY team still in playoff contention "sucks".

Since: Oct 27, 2008
Posted on: December 23, 2011 10:12 am

Keep an Eye on: Week 16's finer points

If both the Cowboys & Giants are 9-7, Giants win the division.

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: December 23, 2011 9:29 am

Keep an Eye on: Week 16's finer points

Not sure how two wins against Miami and NY Jets makes you a "hot" football team and means that you have found your identity.  If they win out aganist Dallas and Washington, then I'll say they are hot and made a run!  Until then.....they suck!

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