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NFL Sunday: Five things to watch

Vince Young, the Bucs' secondary, Bears vs. Gates and more. Matt Bowen

Print This November 19, 2011, 04:00 PM EST

Heading into the Week 11 Sunday NFL schedule, here are five things I am looking for. Personnel, matchups, plus some Xs and Os.

1. Vince Young gets the start: With Michael Vick out with a rib injury for tomorrow night’s game vs. the Giants, we get to watch the former first round pick take the snaps for the Eagles. In terms of the game plan, don’t expect anything different out of Andy Reid. You will see the inside breaking concepts of the Philly playbook, the screen game, the sprint draw to LeSean McCoy and some possible vertical shots near mid-field. However, this Giants’ defense will bring pressure and mix in some coverage looks to force Young to make some throws into tight windows. Big opportunity for V.Y. to get some playing time in a game the Eagles must have if they want to get back into the playoff discussion.

Greg JenningsICONCan the Bucs' secondary keep up with Jennings, Rodgers and the Packers offense?

2. The Bucs’ secondary vs. Rodgers: This Tampa secondary wants to play with an aggressive style. Show press-man looks at the line of scrimmage and take some risk with their DBs on the short to intermediate route tree. Is that a solid game plan vs. Rodgers and the Packers’ offense? After running through every base coverage in the NFL this past week, I don’t know if there is a blue print to limit this offense. However, if you want to play some man-coverage, then the defensive front four has to show up at game time. Green Bay has too much talent at the skill positions for the Bucs to find ideal matchups when they spread the field. Get home with your front four or Rodgers will continue to post big numbers.

3. More Ray Rice: In the Week 10 loss at Seattle, the Baltimore RB finished the day with only five carries—while Joe Flacco threw 52 passes. The Ravens need to find some balance to their game plan, lean on the run game and filter the offense through Rice tomorrow when they host the 6-3 Bengals. No question there will be opportunities for Flacco to test a Bengals' secondary that is now without top CB Leon Hall, but in an AFC North divisional game, Rice has to be the feature player. Too much talent to keep the football out of his hands.

4. Bears’ safeties vs. Gates: Throughout the Bears’ four game winning streak, Lovie Smith’s defense has leaned on Cover 1 (man-coverage) and zone pressure. Because of that, both young safeties, Major Wright and Chris Conte, will have opportunities to matchup with the Chargers’ TE is man-to-man situations. Look to see if they are active with their hands at the line of scrimmage, use their help in the middle of the field and if they can sink their hips and break at the top of the route stem. The Chargers will use play action and 3-level route concepts to get Gates open on the 7 cut (corner route).  I like this Bears’ defense vs. Philip Rivers, but in terms of individual matchups, this is a good one to keep an eye on tomorrow at Soldier Field.

5. Romo vs. the ‘Skins: Romo was hot last Sunday in the win over the Bills. Working vs. single high safety defenses, Romo used the vertical passing game and was efficient in the red zone during a 44-7 win. Tomorrow at Fed Ex Field, the Redskins will show more pressure looks, play some Cover 2 and give Romo multiple blitz fronts to deal with. I expect Washington to bring an aggressive game plan to the stadium, get hands on WR Dez Bryant at the line of scrimmage and use some combination coverages inside of the numbers vs. TE Jason Witten. Let’s see how Romo responds.

Follow me on Twitter: @MattBowen41


Add a Comment
Nov 19, 2011
09:41 PM

Two things for Vince Young, play fakes must be convincing because it lets you takes shots downfield for DeSean. Then don't telegraph your screen passes, once they play back when you burn them play passing, take what's under the coverage with screens to compliment the ground game.

The Bucs will have to play loose and then close on the ball. Force some fumbles when you rally up. Hit the targets hard enough to slow them down. Have not really seen that from their defense of late, bad angles, whiffed tackles. Have to stay on top to play on top. Green Bay is so good after the catch but that is where teams must raise their level of play to slow the game down and play with the Packers.

Where Ray Rice runs will be just as important, test that young corner often. If he is soft against the run game it can set up better play pass chances. Run at him then boot from action to the veteran on the other side of the field. That way you test the young player physically and mentally.

The schedule will probably see my local affiliate play the remaining late game instead of the Bears and Chargers. That isn't to say it would be a bad game, there is some good football going on in Titans country. It's just that we get more looks at Lovie's team from Matt's experience and the nfp readership, this has become the "adopt-a-Bear" site for football fanatics.

The main question for a Skins game is what will be left of their quarterbacks after a Dallas showdown? The Cowboys pass rush can get into "Don't Mess With Texas" mode and the Shanny era has sent too many shank shots off the fairways to consider DC a good wager for anything other than letting favorites cover.

Nov 20, 2011
03:17 AM

Right on about Ray Rice. The Ravens should be ashamed to be ranked 22nd in rushing yards. They brought in FB Vonta Leach and made sure Marshal Yanda played at his natural position of strength at guard. All these Great personnel moves by Ozzie Newsome are being wasted. Love my Ravens, but being honest and objective. How Rice could only get 5 carries last week is criminal. Lack of commitment to the run falls on sqaurely on coaching, the offensive coordinator yes, but the head coach must dictate the importance of getting Rice carries.

Nov 20, 2011
11:27 AM

Would the CHI safeties be on Gates more than the LBs? The key to this game is the CHI front 4 vs the SD OL. If the Bears get a couple of early shots on Rivers, he'll start pre-determining throws and throwing the ball up for grabs leading to a couple easy picks.

SD needs balance and a lot of Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert, which won't be easy against the CHI front 7. I expect CHI to win 27-17.

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