Every week, Senior Producer of NFL Matchup and NFL Films, Greg Cosell, stops by the show to take the audience inside the Herd Film Room to break down the tape from the most talked about performances from the past week.
Today, he’s breaking down the film for the upcoming matchups from NFL Playoff Wild Card weekend.
Roll the tape.
It’s playoff time in the NFL. With respect to schemes, should we expect to teams stick with what they did in the regular season, or will any teams make drastic departures now that the playoffs have started?
There won’t be dramatic changes. Teams may change certain things, depending on the specific opponent and player matchups, but there won’t be any wholesale changes in philosophy and concepts.
In the case of Connor Cook, who is making his first career start in the Raiders Wild Card game, Oakland will take some of their base pass game concepts that they started in training camp. Connor Cook won’t be able to handle the offensive refinements that were made throughout the year with Derek Carr, so the game plan will center around these basic concepts.
When these two teams met in Mexico City, the Texans held the Oakland run game in check. If the Raiders can’t run this week, they’ll find themselves in a lot of 3rd and longs, which is a strength of the Texans defense.
Based on the variety of defensive looks the Texans present, it will be a tough matchup for Connor Cook in his first NFL start.
— Ted Nguyen (@RaidersAnalysis) January 5, 2017
Colin still thinks the Super Bowl window is still open for Seattle, but they’re missing All-Pro safety Earl Thomas and they don’t run the ball well.
It looks like they’ve lost some of the intimidation factor they had with their previous teams, and the New England game was the only game all year where they looked dominant. What’s different with Seattle this year than years past?
First, their offense isn’t as good as it’s been in the past, and they don’t have an offensive identity right now. Many argue they haven’t had one since Marshawn Lynch retired. They’re not truly a passing offense. They’re a running offense with the pass game working off the run game. They also depend heavily on Russell Wilson’s ability to make improvisational plays. Those improvisational plays have been harder to come by for Wilson, who has been injured for a large part of the season.
They’re still strong defensively, but there are plays on film where it’s evident the loss of Earl Thomas as the single high safety has hurt them. In this game, their d-line is going to be a dominating factor against a Lions o-line that isn’t overly athletic. The Seahawks should have distinct advantage with their athletic line.
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) December 25, 2016
The Steelers have perhaps the best trio of offensive stars with Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell, but Colin still feels like they aren’t as good as they should be given their elite stars.
Are the Steelers more dynamic offensively than they were during the Cowher years, but not as good in the trenches?
Pittsburgh has a pretty good offensive line, and Le’Veon Bell definitely makes them better. When the two teams met earlier this year, Miami played a lot of man coverage and it really handcuffed the Pittsburgh passing game.
One player to look for in this game is Eli Rogers, the slot receiver for the Steelers, who has come on late in the season and could be a significant factor if the Dolphins play heavy man coverage again.
— Jimmy Norkewicz (@dorkewicz) January 3, 2017
Colin thinks the Giants/Packers game is the most intriguing matchup of the weekend. Colin likes Aaron Rodgers at home, but the Green Bay cornerbacks have been vulnerable.
Is it possible that the Giants wide receivers can take advantage of this weakness on the back end?
It will be interesting to see what Green Bay does in the secondary, because they did some things in the fourth quarter of last week’s game against the Lions with their personnel and scheme that were a complete departure from the rest of the season.
Against Detroit, Dom Capers put Micah Hyde on the outside at left corner and moved safety Morgan Burnett into the slot. If he employs the same strategy this week, Burnett would be lining up opposite Sterling Sheppard, which is a matchup advantage for the Giants. It will be interesting to see what Capers does this week.
One key thing to keep an eye on in this game is 3rd down. The Giants have the best third down defense in the NFL, and the Packers have the second best third offense. Since the last time these teams played, the Giants have become more aggressive with the blitz, including from the secondary.
Cosell thinks that the Giants will need to blitz Rodgers to win this game. If Rodgers has time to sit back, survey the field, and pick them apart, it could be a long day for Green Bay.
— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) November 4, 2016