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.
ICONCan 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.
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