AFC & NFC Championship Match ups that matter
I did this last week & it was a lot of fun. So the goal once again this week is to look into the players that aren’t making the headlines. There are 2 specific rules: No Quarterbacks & no using the word “X-Factor”. Let’s get into it.
Randall Cobb vs. Jeremy Lane
The sexier match up in this is probably Jordy Nelson vs. Byron Maxwell, or maybe Davante Adams vs. Richard Sherman, but in the Seahawks system, the best mismatch seems to be Cobb attacking the Slot Corner Jeremy Lane. To class Cobb simply as a slot Receiver is slightly unfair, but there is no deny it’s where he’s been most dominant getting 1067 of 1287 yards lined up in the slot. Lane actually lined up against Cobb in the first game & played pretty well, but since then Cobb has had a monster Season picking up 12 Touchdowns in the regular Season. Lane should see a lot of playing time with the Packers lining up with Cobb, Nelson & Adams. With the Seahawks lining up in Nickel a lot in this one, we could see more of a 3-4 look from the Defence, with Chancellor, stepping into a Line-backer role when needed, leaving Lane on one of the most talented Receivers in the league. That being said if he can get past Lane he has to deal with Earl Thomas. Cobb could see a lot of targets in this game & Lane will need to be on form to slow down an integral piece of the Packers Offence.
Dwayne Allen Vs. Jamie Collins
There was a point where I had this titled as Jamie Collins vs. everyone, but the most likely player Collins will be lined up against is either Allen or Fleener. Collins has been one of the most versatile players in the league, lining up in both Coverage & Pass Rush a like. Dwayne Allen has had an exceptional season & has been one of the more underrated players in the league. This could be set up to be an epic battle. Last week Collins was the top player in coverage, lining up predominantly against Owen Daniels & only allowing him to get 2 of 5 catches for 13 yards. Allen has had played well when up against Line-backers, but he’s not faced anyone with this much quickness & power. If Allen can keep Collins busy, expect Fleener to be left with a tough battle against McCourty, which is another great match up. So with the 2 Tight Ends possibly taken out of the game, it leaves Revis on Hilton & Browner on Nicks, which could leave a mismatch in Moncrief on Arrington & a lot of pressure on Patrick Chung. However weaknesses on the Offensive Line means the Colts are forced to line up in 2/3 Tight End sets, which could take some of the Colts more potent weapons off the field. If this happens we come back to the importance of the matchup between 2 of the most underrated players in the league.
Seahawks Interior Offensive Line Vs. Packers Defensive Line
For the Seahawks to win this game they need to establish the run game, of which a major part of this is how well Unger, Carpenter & Sweezy can do against Daniels, Guion & Jones. Datone Jones hasn’t had the best of Seasons & Guion’s lack of size for a 3-4 Nose tackle could struggle against Unger, but Mike Daniels has been something of a Guard killer this Season. If Daniels can keep on Carpenter, the Packers stand a pretty good chance of taking out the interior running lanes. Another problem the Seahawks however will be injuries on the line. Britt at Right Tackle is a game time decision, which will undoubtedly make Sweezy’s job harder. On Sweezy’s Left, Max Unger is coming off an injury too, which could slow him down, which in turn could make both Guards jobs harder. That being said the Packers Pass Rush is going up against a completely different QB & Running Back to last week, who will undoubtedly make their O-line’s job a little easier. Regardless this is an integral match-up in this game & could force the Seahawks to rely on their passing game… which they did last week … successfully.
Josh Kline Vs. Cory Redding
There will always be talk about the Colts Offensive Line after a poor Regular Season. But the Patriots haven’t been without their own Offensive Line problems this week, with Ryan Wendell moving over to replace Stork at centre & Josh Kline coming in at Right Guard to face a Colts front 7 that’s found some form. Kline will almost certainly be taking on Cory Redding who as I already stated has found some Post Season form. Kline will however be helped by a great deal of experience from Vollmer, who has had an outstanding Season. Redding is backed up by Jerrell Freeman & if they cause enough of a fuss they can maybe create some space for D’Qwell Jackson. The Patriots last week rushed for a mere 17 yards, something they’ll be looking to improve on, when going up against Vontae Davis & the Colts Secondary. For this to happen, a solid interior will be vital. If Redding has a good game, it forces the Patriots to play a game they will almost certainly be trying to avoid. If Kline can have a good game, the Patriots can dictate the game & time of possession. When it comes to Pass Rush & getting pressure on Brady the Patriots do have a couple of factors going for them. 1) GRONK! Gronk is a match up nightmare. You put Landry on him, he’ll outpace him. You put Butler on him, he’ll out power them. He is almost an unfair advantage in the passing game. 2) This is a simple stat. Sacks allowed after Stork went down in the last game, against the elite Ravens pass rush. Zero. The Patriots will undoubtedly try & run the ball, but if they’re forced to play the game the way the Colts want them to. It becomes very interesting.
3 games left folks. Let’s enjoy it while we can!