Burrow-Mahomes IV, 49ers-Eagles Showdown!

Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Divisional - The Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs are 0-3 against the Joe Burrow-led Cincinnati Bengals in the regular season and playoffs. And Mahomes will be playing (oh, he WILL be playing) on a sprained ankle when those teams face off in Kansas City for an AFC championship rematch.

The 2022 season turned out just as the Philadelphia Eagles planned it. The season turned out nothing like what the San Francisco 49ers planned it. The NFC's best team will face its hottest team next Sunday in Philly. But which is which?

Let's speed-run through this weekend's action and take some deep dives into the NFL's Final Four as an appetizer for a pair of very appetizing conference title games.

What We Learned from the Divisional Playoffs

Here's what we learned about the NFL's final four during the divisional round of the playoffs:

Cincinnati Bengals

This flawed team, whose offensive line has been crippled by injuries, whose head coach gets criticized for a dozen different tactical shortcomings, and whose defense rarely gets credit as a borderline top-10 unit, just waltzed into Buffalo—in the snow—and stole the Bills' wallet and car keys in a game that wasn't as close as the 27-10 final score.

Credit Joe Burrow and/or the Ja'Marr Chase Trio. Credit leaders on the defense such as Jessie Bates, Sam Hubbard, and Trey Hendrickson. Credit Zac Taylor if you dare. But realize that the Bengals are the AFC's most resilient team. And while folks in my industry sometimes overlook them, the Chiefs won't dare look past them in the AFC Championship Game.

San Francisco 49ers

Brock Purdy has already turned into a pumpkin. The 49ers system is designed to run on pumpkins. It's like a potato battery, but for pumpkins.

Brock Purdy did not play all that well on Sunday: he threw some near-picks and forced the 49ers to settle for field goals after turnovers. But Purdy does not have to play very well, even against top competition, so long as the defense keeps making stops and providing takeaways while George Kittle juggles receptions off his own facemask.

Beating the 49ers means either forcing Purdy to play abysmally or, you know, scoring more than 12 points on offense. The Eagles appear capable of either strategy, but it won't be easy: DVOA says that the 49ers were better than the Eagles down the stretch, Purdy Pumpkinhead and all.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles didn't earn a first-round bye because they beat a soft schedule of opponents. They earned that bye because they absolutely dominated those opponents.

Jalen Hurts and company demonstrated the difference between a true contender and a bunch of spunky overachievers in their 38-7 trouncing of the New York Giants. It was a much-needed tune-up before the NFC championship matchup with the 49ers, and it silenced lots of late-season doubts.

Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City appeared to be one mistake away from disaster for much of Saturday's 27-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, especially after Patrick Mahomes suffered an early ankle injury. Yet the Chiefs never trailed, and the Jaguars never mounted a serious second-half threat: a testament to the brilliance of Andy Reid, Travis Kelce, Chris Jones, many oft-maligned supporting characters on defense, and yes, Chad Henne. Still, the status of Mahomes' ankle will this week's biggest talking point and the most critical unknown variable as the Chiefs prepare for the Bengals.

Ranking the Final Four Quarterbacks

What follows over the next few segments are rankings for the quarterbacks, offensive lines, coaching staffs, and so forth who made it to the conference championship round. We'll start, of course, with the five (yes, five) quarterbacks we may see next Sunday.

1. Healthy Patrick Mahomes, KC

Already a top-10 all-time quarterback? That discussion sounds like clickbait for another column at another time. Already top-20? Absolutely, without a doubt, and climbing a little every week.

2. Joe Burrow, CIN

The baby-faced, insouciant, cigar-chomping, icy-veined assassin that Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa, and a dozen other young hotshot quarterbacks someday aspire to become.

3. Gimpy Patrick Mahomes, KC

The version of Mahomes who cannot plant his foot properly and can barely run due to an ankle injury—the version we will probably see next Sunday—is frustratingly scattershot and requires extra protection, but he still radiates a clutchtastic Willis Reed/Kirk Gibson vibe.

4. Jalen Hurts, PHI

The best young black quarterback to have a disproportionate amount of his success attributed to his supporting cast/scrambling/scheme/schedule/circumstances since [insert every other successful black quarterback in history here].

5. Brock Purdy, SF

The blank canvas upon which Kyle Shanahan is painting his masterpiece.

Ranking the Final Four Playmaker Corps

The 2022 season was the Year of the Supporting Cast, as teams such as the Dolphins showed what great receivers can do for a prospect at the crossroads, while the Bears showed us what happens when a gifted dual-threat is surrounded by USFL backups. All four remaining teams have quality receivers and rushers, and each playmaker corps brings a unique set of skills.

1. Cincinnati Bengals

Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd—the best wide receiver trio in the NFL two years running—but also Joe Mixon, Semaje Perine, Hayden Hurst, and Trenton Irwin, all of whom stepped up when called upon during injury crunches and in the playoffs.

2. San Francisco 49ers

Deebo Samuel. George Kittle. Christian McCaffrey. It's like an entire toolbox full of sonic screwdrivers. The 49ers finished the regular season tied with the Chiefs for second in the NFL with 6.6 yards after catch per reception (behind a Panthers team that did not throw much with 6.8) and tied with many teams for sixth with 1.8 yards after contact per rush.

Picking the Bengals over the 49ers was difficult. But which supporting cast would you prefer when trailing by two scores in the fourth quarter? Thought so.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

A.J. Brown ranked third in the NFL (behind Tyreek Hill and Davonte Adams) with 570 receiving yards on passes of 20-plus air yards, per Sports Info Solutions. DeVonta Smith ranked 18th with 290 yards on such passes. Dallas Goedert tied George Kittle for second among starting NFL tight ends with 12.8 yards per reception (Jordan Akins of the Texans led tight ends with 13.4), Miles Sanders led all running backs with 837 yards before contact on rushes this season; only Justin Fields was higher.

Is yards before contact more of an offensive line stat? For the Eagles, think of it as more of an offensive synergy stat.

4. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs playmakers ranked ... fourth? What a strange season this has been.

Travis Kelce is performing like he wants to lock down GOAT tight end status. Everyone else is essentially Santana's percussion section.

The Chiefs tied the 49ers with 6.8 yards after catch per reception, with Jerick McKinnon finishing the regular season third in YAC per reception at 9.7 (behind Travis Etienne and Derrick Henry) on a steady diet of slants and screens. Juju Smith-Schuster is a capable possession target, Kadarius Toney a troublesome gadget specialist in a gadget-happy offense. Marques Valdez-Scantling is the nominal deep threat but has been too quiet for many weeks.

Isiah Pacheco has replaced Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the Chiefs running back who is, indeed, a running back.

Ranking the Final Four Offensive Lines

One excellent offensive line, two very good ones, and one MRI waiting room.

1. Philadelphia Eagles

Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson helped the Eagles win Super Bowl LII. So did guard Isaac Seumalo, a multi-position sub at the time. Landon Dickson was drafted as Kelce's heir apparent but has found work at left guard instead. Jordan Mailata barely knew how to line up in a three-point stance (I watched coaches and Jason Peters teach him the basics in minicamp) when the Eagles plucked him off the rugby circuit in 2018. Put it all together and you have the NFL's most versatile and decorated offensive line. And they can sing, too.

2. San Francisco 49ers

Trent Williams is building a substantial Pro Football Hall of Fame portfolio, Mike McGlinchey is rock-solid, and the rotating cast between them gets the job done. The 49ers ranked fourth in adjusted line yards as run blockers; a scheme that emphasizes short passes and a defense which allows the 49ers to play with a lead makes pass protection easier.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, and Joe Thuney form one of the NFL's best interior lines. Tackles Orlando Brown and Andrew Wylie, however, are inconsistent and can often be beaten with pure speed off the edge. Look for the Bengals to blitz off the edges, perhaps with a safety or slot mighty mite Mike Hilton, to try to force a gimpy Mahomes into a dink-and-dunk game

4. Cincinnati Bengals

Last year, this unit consisted of Jonah Williams and some glued-together balsa wood. So the Bengals added La'el Collins, Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, and rookie Cordell Volson in the offseason. At first, everyone looked shaky and out-of-sync. Then they gelled for a few precious weeks (right about when Ja'Marr Chase and Joe Mixon were hurt). Then Williams, Collins, and Cappa all got hurt one by one, and the Bengals appeared doomed. But the pieced-together line of Jackson Carman, Volson, Karras, Max Scharping and Hakeem Adeniji played well on Sunday against the Bills.

Maybe the snow slowed the Bills pass rush a bit, but it's odd how the snow only impacted one team, and it was the one from the North Pole.

Ranking the Final Four Pass Defenses

The NFC Championship Game features two tough, opportunistic defenses. The AFC Championship Game may not be a 1980s NBA All-Star Game but ... oh, you know what Bengals-Chiefs games look like by now.

1. Philadelphia Eagles (first in DVOA)

The Eagles recorded 70 sacks, the highest total since the 1989 Vikings, and added five more against the Giants on Saturday. But they finished "just" second to the Cowboys in pressure rate.

The Eagles ranked second against No. 1 receivers, fourth against No. 2 receivers, and sixth against tight ends in the regular season, but just 22nd against "other" receivers and 24th against running backs. So all the 49ers must do is protect Brock Purdy (who always scrambles to his left) from Haason Reddick and the others so he can avoid throwing to the receivers Darius Slay and James Bradberry are covering and target Christian McCaffrey instead. It's possible, especially for the 49ers, but it won't be easy.

2. San Francisco 49ers (fifth in DVOA)

It's a trap, Admiral Akbar! The 49ers ranked 24th at stopping deep passes but in the top 10 in all other categories, and their deep-ball vulnerability extended into the postseason (see: Charvarius Ward getting charred variously by DK Metcalf in the wild-card round). So just throw deep on them! Ignore Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, the 44 sacks, and 69 quarterback knockdowns in the regular season! Everything's gonna be hunky-dory!

3. Cincinnati Bengals (12th in DVOA)

The Bengals rank sixth at stopping opposing tight ends and held Travis Kelce to four catches, 56 yards, and a critical fumble in Week 13. (Kelce went 10-95-1 in last year's AFC Championship Game and 5-25-1 in Week 17 of 2021.)

The Bengals also rank sixth in stopping deep passes, which is still rather Chiefs-relevant. They're somewhere between slightly below and slightly above average in most other categories, including pass-rushing metrics.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (20th in DVOA)

Chris Jones is capable of ruining an opponent's weekend. And then there's everyone else.

The Chiefs ranked 31st against opponents' No. 1 wide receivers in the regular season and have an unfortunate history against Ja'Marr Chase. Opponents like to target rookie Jaylen Watson, but Watson made the Jaguars pay with a leaping interception on Saturday, and Steve Spagnuolo has been using slot corner L'Jarius Sneed on the outside more.

Spags only blitzed on 24.2% of opponent's pass plays in the regular season, 14th in the NFL. It just feels like he blitzes on every down. Look for him to try to puzzle the makeshift Bengals line with stunts and zone blitzes next week.

Ranking the Final Four Run Defenses

Run defense is overrated until a team that rarely trailed all year finds itself two scores down in the fourth quarter and discovers that its defense cannot get off the field.

1. San Francisco 49ers (second in adjusted line yards)

Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw are the best pure linebacker duo in the NFL. The 49ers led the NFL with just 0.16 open field yards allowed per run: those who make it into their secondary do not last very long with Tashaun Gipson and Talanoa Hufanga (plus slot tough-guy Jimmy Ward) roaming about.

2. Cincinnati Bengals (10th in adjusted line yards)

The Bengals defense ranked second in stopping open-field yards and allowed just seven rushing plays of 20-plus yards in the regular season. D.J. Reader has been an enforcer in the second half of the season, while Logan Wilson and defensive tackle B.J. Hill are unheralded contributors.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (22nd in adjusted line yards)

Linebacker Nick Bolton is one of the NFL's surest tacklers. Opponents averaged 24.6 carries per game against the Chiefs, the fifth-lowest figure in the NFL: you don't beat Patrick Mahomes by running the ball, especially since you are usually playing from behind.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (23rd in adjusted line yards)

The Eagles' greatest weakness until Howie Roseman overcompensated by signing Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph in midseason; now more of a minor weakness. The Eagles defense ranked 32nd in power success in the regular season: if either team faces fourth-and-1 in an Eagles game, they are probably making it.

Ranking the Final Four Special Teams

There are neither any truly great nor terrible kicking or return teams among the four remaining teams. In other words, the Ravens didn't make it.

1. Cincinnati Bengals (18th in DVOA)

Punter Drue Chrisman now has three punts inside the 20 in the postseason after pinning opponents 13 times in seven regular-season games since taking over for Kevin Huber. Chrisman's arrival is the reason the Bengals rank ahead of the Eagles here, despite lower DVOA.

Evan McPherson is 14-of-16 from 50-plus yards in the regular season in his two-year career and 3-of-3 in the playoffs. Long field goals are not predictive, but proving you can drill a lot of important ones doesn't hurt.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (13th in DVOA)

Brett Kern has been spotty in relief of injured Arryn Siposs but dropped three punts inside the 20 on Saturday. Britain Covey is streaky on returns, Jake Elliott reliable on field goals. Kickoff coverage is a mess.

3. San Francisco 49ers (15th in DVOA)

Robbie Gould was 7-of-11 from 40 to 49 yards and no longer has much of a kickoff leg, but he still has never missed a postseason field goal. Mitch Wishnowsky dropped 14 regular-season punts inside the 10-yard line, the third-highest figure in the NFL; the huge field position advantage that the 49ers offense and defense provided (a league-high +6.80 net yards in starting field position per drive) helped. Ray-Ray McCloud almost cost the 49ers the game with a fumbled punt return on Sunday, but he bounced back with a long kickoff return after the Cowboys settled for a field goal.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (19th in DVOA)

Kick coverage was a mess against the Jaguars, but not quite an Eagles-level mess. Harrison Butker was just 3-of-7 on 50-plus-yard field goals in the regular season before drilling two of them against the Jaguars: long field goals are always too small a sample to be truly predictive. Butker is now 17-of-20 on postseason field goal attempts for his career.

Ranking the Final Four Coaching Staffs

Number one probably won't surprise you.

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Andy Reid. 'Nuff said.

2. San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Shanahan is the best game-planner of his generation. DeMeco Ryans gets the most from a talented defense. Shanahan tends to be hyper-conservative on fourth downs, but our probabilistic models may not fully account for variables like "seventh-round rookie quarterback starting in the playoffs."

3. Cincinnati Bengals

Zac Taylor and coordinators Brian Callahan and Lou Anarumo adjusted on the fly several times this season and have shown they can work well with whatever cards they are dealt. This is a staff that brought its team within a sack of winning last year's Super Bowl; after a while, quibbling about the design of the running game is missing the point.

4. Philadelphia Eagles

Nick Sirianni, Shane Steichen, and Jonathan Gannon had tons of toys to play with this season, but a weaker staff would have found a way to get less from more (the Chargers, for example, might only have won nine games). The Sirianni regime is upbeat, flexible, aggressive, and innovative (see: the push sneak). They lack experience and a reputation, but they are in the process of acquiring those.

Last Looks for Eliminated Teams

What's next for the Bills, Jaguars, Giants, and Cowboys? Funny you should ask.

Looking Ahead to the 2023 Dallas Cowboys

There is no escaping the Cowboys meme. Two Dak Prescott interceptions, again? Cowboys meme. Jerry Jones talking non-stop about Brett Maher's missed extra points all week, leading to a missed extra point? Cowboys meme. Mike McCarthy punting when trailing by seven late in the fourth quarter? Cowboys meme. Firing McCarthy in favor of Sean Payton would just steer the Cowboys DEEPER into the meme. In Dallas, the narrative is the point, and there is no escaping it.

The Cowboys will have enough 2023 cap space to extend key pieces such as Tony Pollard and Dalton Schultz if they choose to, but they will be forced to shed all of the useful veteran freelancers (Jason Peters, Dante Fowler, T.Y. Hilton, Anthony Barr) who got them through this season, plus Cooper Rush and, um, Maher, who may have been dumped in the gutter on Harry Hines Boulevard by the time you read this.

Dak, Micah Parsons, CeeDee Lamb and others will keep the team afloat as a wild-card contender. But again: that's just part of the Cowboys meme.

Looking Ahead to the 2023 Buffalo Bills

The Bills are a bad situational football team except for the "we're far superior than you and can swat you like a mosquito" situation they often find themselves in. Sean McDermott enters another offseason desperately seeking two more wins for a stacked powerhouse of a roster; with little cap maneuverability, he needs to look to himself and his ever-depleting staff.

Ken Dorsey's likely departure could be addition by subtraction; if nothing else, a new playcaller may force McDermott to answer tough quality-control questions like "Why did we throw a bomb on third-and-2 while trailing, then punt when it failed?" But play-calling and fourth-down decisions are only part of the story for a Buffalo team that seems to get outplayed in any inclement conditions and generally steps on too many rakes.

The leap from doormat to contender is often easier than that final step from contender to champion. The Bills had the Chiefs and the overtime rules as an excuse last year. This year they need more self-scouting and less excuse-making.

Looking Ahead to the 2023 New York Giants

Re-signing Daniel Jones and "surrounding him with weapons" is a high-risk move disguised as a low-risk move. Remember when the Giants tried this very tactic with Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney two years ago? Sure, Jones is better now than he was entering 2021, but beware the quarterback who spends four seasons developing all the way up to mobile game manager status.

Creating a team-friendly Jones contract or Jones exit strategy will be the defining act of Joe Schoen's tenure as general manager. The Giants still need to add blue-chip pieces on both sides of the ball; they can't afford to kneecap their budget to sign a Cousins Lite or trade the farm for Jones' replacement unless they are willing to take a perilous step backwards.

Looking Ahead to the 2023 Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence is on pace to be an MVP candidate once he fine-tunes his decision-making and ball security. The AFC South, as always, is giving off Sun Belt-Fun Belt vibes, so Lawrence should have no trouble leading the Jaguars to a divisional crown again in 2023. Trent Baalke has some restructuring to do to get the Jaguars cap-compliant, but the Jaguars should be able to keep the in-house free agents they value most.

The Jaguars should not be thinking about a shopping spree (Baalke's shoulders just drooped) but about firming up the offensive line and adding talent on the defensive back seven. Thanks to Lawrence, they won't need to be perfect to muscle their way onto the Chiefs-Bills tier, just a little bit better in a few areas.

Divisional Round Awards

Let's wrap things up with the customary awards ceremony.

Defender of the Week

49ers linebacker Fred Warner finished Sunday's victory with nine tackles-plus-assists, a tipped Dak Prescott interception, and some eye-opening reps covering CeeDee Lamb down the seam.

Offensive Line of the Week

We covered the Eagles line of Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, and Lane Johnson in the ranking segment. They faced what was purported to be a rugged Giants defensive front on Saturday (though DVOA knew better). They carved out 268 rushing yards in a game that was over by halftime.

Special Teamer of the Week

Cowboys punt gunner Kelvin Joseph nearly earned this award by forcing a Ray-Ray McCloud fumble deep in 49ers territory. But the Cowboys could not score a touchdown because that would be off brand. So Robbie Gould earns this award instead for four field goals, including 47- and 50-yarders.

Best Supporting Actor in Someone Else's Highlight

The best (or worst) thing about the Gabriel Davis tush-push sneak is that Tony Romo said "tush push" on the telecast:

First of all, Romo dated Carrie Underwood and can therefore say "tush push" all he wants; it's a country music bylaw.

Secondly, the best way to meaningfully push a teammate on a sneak, from a leverage standpoint, is probably to grab a big meaty knot of buttcheek with each mitt and apply force to that teammate's core; pushing him on the back does little good if the ballcarrier's thighs and glutes aren't churning forward with as much power as possible.

Why, next season we might see one teammate assigned to each cheek for maximum efficacy: the mush tush push. So plow ahead, intrepid quarterback sneakers! We have nothing to lose but our juvenile discomfort with dude-on-dude hand-to-butt clutching!

Burn This Play!

In comedy writing, there's an expression called "putting a hat on a hat:" trying too hard to be witty and clever by piling up multiple gags that actually distract from one another and make the result less funny.

The Chiefs put a hat on a hat with Noah Gray's third-and-1 quarterback sneak in the third quarter on Saturday night. Both Gray and Travis Kelce went in motion before the snap. Kelce lined up about where a pistol quarterback might stand, while Gray started left to right but orbited back under center. Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes made an ostentatious display of fiddling with his wristband, like a cop saying "nothing to see here" outside an exploding fireworks factory.

Any one of these wrinkles would have effectively added a little surprise to Gray's sneak, but all three of them combined screamed: THIS IS A SNEAK, AND MAHOMES NEVER RUNS THEM AND IS ALSO HURT, AND KELCE IS PROBABLY JUST THERE TO PUSH.

Also … Walkthrough really thought Gray picked up the first down. But the officials disagreed, and when have they ever made a questionable call in a playoff game?

Frame This Play!

Let's celebrate the creativity of Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka by enjoying their Saquon Barkley/Matt Breida Wildcat wrinkle to avoid a shutout against the Eagles.

Great use of Daniel Jones motion. Great use of a two-running back backfield. And a great statement of defiance trailing by 28 points in the fourth quarter. Daboll and Kafka kept finding ways to manufacture points until the end. Players will remember that when they report for OTAs.

Rando of the Week

It can only be the Backup First-Down Marker Maintenance Guy, who was called into service when the starting 10-yard chain broke early in Giants-Eagles. It turns out that Maintenance Guy keeps his equipment in the same closet where Walkthrough keeps old extension cords, power strips, HDMI cables, Atari 400 antenna converters, the Gordian knot itself…

Not to bring the room down, but followers on Twitter know this was a brutal weekend for me and my family, as we lost our beloved 12-year-old pitbull Beemo. The chain-gang tomfoolery at the start of the Eagles game brought a moment of levity, so I can write without trivializing the source material too much: like a break in the battle was that guy's part/in the wretched life of a lonely heart.

Later This Week

Walkthrough interviewed Pro Football Hall of Fame voters BEFORE last week's vote! Find out what they said about Devin Hester, Dwight Freeney, and many others!


147 comments, Last at 26 Jan 2023, 2:02pm

#1 by DavidL // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:17am

How can Burn This Play be anything but the final pass of SF-DAL? That formation alone goes into the play-calling Hall Of Infamy next to the Colts fake punt.

Points: 14

#3 by thok // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:41am

Given that the Cowboys needed to get 75 yards in one play, just about any play call could be justified. I think it's probably better to go for a Hail Mary with the hope of drawing a DPI and a free play instead of a convoluted multiple lateral special teams play with a weird formation, but I can at least see the logic in trying a convoluted multiple lateral special teams play in that specific situation.

Points: 6

#15 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 9:26am

I think it's probably better to go for a Hail Mary with the hope of drawing a DPI and a free play

Only Aaron Rodgers gets those calls.

\and only against the Lions
\\The WR only gets to shove the DB down if it's Cincinnati or against Minnesota

Points: 0

#27 by KnotMe // Jan 23, 2023 - 10:21am

Didn't we put the whole multiple-lateral thing to bed this year? Teams know how to deal with it. 

Points: 0

#33 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 10:50am

32 yards isn't really a Hail Mary.

Browns managed two penalties on that play. Just tackling two receivers is pretty flagrant, though.

Points: 1

#14 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 9:25am

The formation actually makes a lot of sense for a Bunch 'o Laterals play -- having all your linemen be larger backs, because once that first lateral starts, everyone is an eligible ball carrier.

That's a clever wrinkle, really. The fatal flaw was the pass was high, which meant the hook-lateral series couldn't effectively get started. I might have done it with a traditional center -- that one heavy isn't a huge liability. You can afford to be the Polish team from Ice Hockey. But not being Czechoslovakia just because it's traditional does make sense. It wasn't a bad design just because it didn't work -- the odds of it working were around 0.1% at that point.

Points: 4

#16 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 9:30am

The fatal flaw was the pass was high

Except that's a consequence of the formation - the chance of the first pass being on target is low because you're not going to be able to protect the QB. If I were the 49ers I probably would've actually put 2 guys up on the line to rush Dak.

There's not much downside to that because laterals are slow developing plays - the guy who rushes the QB can turn around and get involved again if the pass is completed.

Plus, of course, the other problem is that a throw downfield to start a lateral series starts off at a disadvantage: until the pass is thrown, you're heavily outnumbered. I'm not sure it doesn't make more sense to just start off as a screen.

Points: 1

#19 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 9:38am

If you want real tomfoolery, station Rush behind that right-side muddle of receivers and do a bubble receiver pass. That eliminates the first problem and might suck a few of the LOS defenders up towards the ball.

But there aren't good options here. There's only a mess of more and less bad.

Points: 1

#24 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Jan 23, 2023 - 10:07am

Might have been interesting to see the backup QB lined up to one side, with a quick lateral pass to him.  All the players on that side block for him while the eligible receivers on the other side run deep.  Meanwhile the original QB (Dak) runs to the other side as soon as he throws the lateral, towards the "linemen" there, who can't go downfield until a forward pass is thrown, regardless.  Then the backup has two options: hail mary deep if defenders lose discipline or a throw back to Dak to start a rugby-style play (apologies to rugby players for the analogy) if they haven't.

It's not likely to work, nothing's likely to work at that stage, but at least you're moving the ball large distances.  I think that's the key with these type of desperation plays: you need to get a numbers mismatch and that's only likely if you get defenders chasing the ball.

Points: 0

#32 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 10:49am

numbers mismatch and that's only likely if you get defenders chasing the ball.

Or from formation, and they actually kinda had that. They just threw that advantage away by throwing to the middle of the field like that.

The other point is they should've used motion. You've gotta use every trick you can in a last-ditch effort.

Points: 2

#39 by BigRichie // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:19am

That's the last situation in which you use motion. Defense just ignores it in that circumstance.

Points: 0

#45 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:24am

Motion isn't just to fool a defense. You also get a guy moving at speed at the snap.

Points: 1

#77 by DGL // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:13pm

Sort of a hybrid swinging gate - a real center over the ball with QB1 behind him to take the snap.  Out wide to the short side, three "linemen" (all who can block and run, one of whom is eligible and can go downfield before the pass) with QB2 behind them.  Out on the wide side, three more "linemen" (one of whom is eligible) and the remaining three "backs" (flanked out beyond the "end", essentially four wide receivers).

At the snap, QB1 laterals to QB2 and then basically runs a wheel out to the opposite side.  The end on the short side can run a cross to get towards the wide side (or stay in to block if there's anyone rushing that QB), while the four eligible receivers on the other side run a variety of short/middle routes to get into position for laterals.  QB2 throws to the deepest eligible receiver who's open and you go from there.



Points: 1

#31 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 10:45am

Yup, similar to what I was suggesting. Lateral series can't start unless the first guy who catches will be able to lateral. Best way to ensure that is to have lots of guys around him.

Or just hand it off to the guy beside Dak! Look at the formation: he'd have an entire wedge of blockers off to the right. Or, even better, bring one of those WRs on the wings in motion and hand to him. Long TD runs/passes happen - it'd be better if you use plays that are closer to those rather than weirdo gadget setups.

You've gotta get the play moving before miracles happen.

Points: 2

#78 by reggieDunlop // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:14pm

Just watched the replay and the linemen that were split out left went downfield with the snap... would have been ineligible man downfield on the first pass had it succeeded.  

Points: 1

#44 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:23am

Oh dear lord, just saw someone point out on Twitter the most ridiculous Cowboys/2022/NFL thing about this play, ever.

Two of the "lineman" on the left (bottom of screen) are 3-4 yards downfield when the pass happened. Unlike so many of the pointlessly called man downfield penalties, these guys are trying to be downfield to be part of the play.

So the Cowboys just tried to run a play that pushes hard against the point-of-emphasis rule for this year. The one that's been called more than 4x as much as the historical norm. I have to assume the only reason it didn't get flagged is because the ref was like "whatever, game's over, I'm going home."

It wasn't even close to legal.

Points: 7

#68 by BlueStarDude // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:30pm

Even the refs were too distracted watching Zeke get trucked

Points: 5

#72 by KnotMe // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:03pm

It would be funny if a ref started to throw a flag and then stopped bc the play failed anyway.

Points: 2

#88 by ahmadrashad // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:36pm

Glad someone else noticed that, I was yelling for a flag.

Points: 0

#104 by Kaepernicus // Jan 23, 2023 - 2:10pm

Refs must get mesmerized by terrible plays just like the rest of us. The crazy ending last year had the refs completely miss the fact that the Cowboys spotted the ball like 3-4 yards ahead of where Dak went down too.

Points: 3

#119 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 5:07pm

Watching it again, it's amusing that 5 guys do stay within 1 yard of the LOS to block -- it's just the wrong five guys. The problem is two interior guys go, but the 'tight ends' on both sides stays in to block. I suspect it didn't get flagged because the count was right, and they missed that the usage was illegal.

Granted, that's Belichickian. He exploited refs missing that to win a game against the Ravens in the playoffs. It may have been intentional.

Points: 0

#120 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 5:10pm

I still think it's just because it's the end of the game. It's easy enough to be like "um... why is a #68 way downfield?"

Points: 0

#136 by Pat // Jan 24, 2023 - 10:36am

Or maybe they're just a terrible crew? Apparently on a deep throw to Kittle, he lined up ineligible (inside a second TE) and they didn't catch it. Playoff crews are makeshift, so hard to see if this is normal for that ref.

Points: 0

#90 by BroncFan07 // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:41pm

Would it have killed the 49ers to back off a little instead of tackling immediately, just so we could have gotten some sort of idea as to what was actually supposed to have happened on that play?

Points: 2

#98 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:56pm

That could have made for a funny post-game interview.

Q "Why didn't you tackle the receiver as soon as you had the chance?"

A "I wanted to see what the heck they were up to!"

Points: 9

#2 by rh1no // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:25am

Bills fans' tears haven't even frozen to their cheeks yet and you already wrote your Walkthrough for the Divisional round? That's cold, man ...

Points: 2

#54 by serutan // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:54am

But not as cold as "Better send those refunds.".  That was COLD.

Points: 5

#56 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:59am

Athletes have a long history of making up slights to motivate themselves, but the fact that commenters kept repeating this "They're already selling tickets!" line like it was an insult was so absurd. Everyone does that! Including the Bengals!

Points: 4

#62 by serutan // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:10pm

I know everyone does that.  But IMO that was a shot at the NFL apparently wanting a Buffalo/KC championship game rather than actual ticket refunds.

Points: 3

#64 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:18pm

I don't have any problem with Burrow saying it, as noted athletes love that stuff. I am annoyed that other NFL commentators ran with this narrative for no good reason.

Points: 1

#83 by BigRichie // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:25pm

Riling up viewers/listeners/readers is a great rea$on.

Points: 2

#73 by rh1no // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:03pm

Yeah, it's all silliness. The Bengals have plenty of reasons to have a chip on their shoulder, but this ain't one of them.

They're going to have to adjust to the expectations of being favorites pretty soon, though.

Points: 1

#85 by BigRichie // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:26pm

As Brady/Jordan/countless others have shown, ain't no adjustment at all. Not for you yourself, anyhow.

Points: 2

#4 by Led // Jan 23, 2023 - 7:30am

The Bengals looked like vintage Patriots:  max efficiency in the snow; power running; robotically effective QB play; fundamantly sound defense with creative wrinkles. 

Points: 9

#7 by apocalipstick // Jan 23, 2023 - 8:27am

No way would I call Joe Burrow "robotically effective". That's damning with faint praise at best.

Points: 1

#76 by rh1no // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:07pm

Idk, man. When I read "robotically effective," I think about Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 methodically eliminating everything in its path. If that's what people think about my quarterback, I'm a happy fan!

Points: 3

#34 by Mike B. In Va // Jan 23, 2023 - 10:51am

The entire lead was built by play design - those wide open receivers were created by Frazier's "read and react" zone watching Burrow and not what the routes were doing. The Bills got completely outcoached, especially on two of the TD throws.

Points: 6

#51 by serutan // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:45am


And as was obvious watching the way the players were gingerly running around, the snow had made the footing dicey.  You can still read, but on a slick field reacting is problematical.

Points: 1

#53 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:46am

And the power running because Buffalo kept playing small ball. I love Taron Johnson, but my man is still a cornerback and is going to lose against guards and fullbacks.

Points: 0

#103 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Jan 23, 2023 - 2:09pm

The most effective play on a snowy field is "run deep".  A small change in angle by the receiver can create way more separation than it does on good turf.  Buffalo almost got a TD off this on their first drive, only Allen slightly overthrew him (alternatively, the Bengals pass rush disrupted Allen's throw enough to force the pass high - pick your narrative).  People think of snowy weather as power rushing conditions, but it's really not.  It's spread it out, scramble and look for the guy who gets surprisingly wide open conditions.

The best way to defend in these conditions is man up, jam at the line, and keep deep safety help.  Zone is nuts because the soft spots are much bigger in snow than they are on dry turf, because of the extra time it takes defenders to close.

Obviously, it's not as simple as I'm making it sound.  Successful football requires changing things up and being unpredictable.   But if you let a receiver get a free release in snow, you better have a darn good plan, because he knows where he's going and your guys don't, and trying to get to where he is when the ball is thrown is harder than it is in good footing.

Points: 6

#118 by t.d. // Jan 23, 2023 - 5:01pm

the 'customized defensive game plan every week' rather than 'doing what we do' reminds me of BB too;  it was really hard to get a read on Zac Taylor into his third season as a coach, but the last year and a half demonstrate he's up there with the best of them  

Points: 1

#5 by billprudden // Jan 23, 2023 - 7:46am

Can Jerry Jones outbid Team Walmart by offering Sean Payton a slice of equity?  

Points: 1

#29 by KnotMe // Jan 23, 2023 - 10:27am

Miami couldn't do it for Brady. Not sure if it's a problem for coaches since they don't have a salary cap, but I suspect he league would have to think about it. 

Points: 0

#37 by Rufus R. Jones // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:09am

Broncos fans are (wrongly) pretty sure Team Walmart money is going to get them out of the bind they're in. Their grip on reality turned loose about the time John Elway signed Payton Manning. 

Points: 4

#57 by serutan // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:59am

Yup.  Just because ownership both has money and is willing to spend it means nothing if it isn't spent intelligently.  Even in sports without a hard salary cap.

Points: 1

#63 by KnotMe // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:15pm

The Steinbrenner Yankee's were really fun for that reason.  Tons of money spent, not that intelligently. 

The owner having a ton of money doesn't really help you that much in the NFL I don't think. I suppose there is the Raiders keeping Josh McDaniels for financial reasons.* But even if that case, being able to move on from bad coachs faster isn't much of a disadvantage, what you really need to do is find a good one and stick with them. 

*I suspect if he did REALLY bad, like 3 wins, he would be gone. 

Points: 0

#67 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:25pm

Cincinnati has also historically held onto poor coaches for too long because their owner is a skinflint.

Points: 1

#86 by BigRichie // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:28pm

Also because Baby Brown really, really identified with Baby Shula.

Points: 1

#6 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 8:08am

What's missing about the Cowboys looking ahead is what I've been mentioning for a while: it's Prescott's second-to-last year. And a year like this one is a huge problem - productive, but all of the turnovers have to make you ask if you want to give Prescott 47-50M/yr like he'll probably be asking.

Ideally you would've wanted him to make a definitive statement this year so you can work on extension maybe even now. But wait through next year and that price tag will keep climbing.

Points: 7

#43 by BigRichie // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:23am

All true. But the worse outcome would be if Dak's price tag doesn't keep climbing. (as that would mean the ints got out of control; or some like form of very bad news)

Points: 0

#48 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:37am

I actually think the worst outcome is what's going on now - if his value settles in that Kirk Cousins range. If his price tag drops you can at least cut him and move on. That middle ground sucks to be stuck in.

It's gonna be tough, because both Hurts and Herbert will have contract extensions by then, and the "weird QB contract math" is that your AAV has to be around the last guy's, even if your contract actually starts earlier. So for instance Murray's 5-yr, "$46.1M/yr" extension doesn't actually start until 2024 - which is when Prescott's contract ends.

In other words, if Prescott's a top-10 QB he should be getting like $50M/yr on a 5-year contract starting in '25. That's just... oof. Especially with the Chiefs sitting there with Mahomes' contract at the 5-yr equivalent of $45M/yr at that point. Unreal.

Points: 0

#52 by BigRichie // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:45am

Well, my thinking was that if Dak's price tag drops it'll mean he took a very-talented team down with him in those 2 price-dropping seasons.

Points: 0

#55 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:54am

Well, my thinking was that if Dak's price tag drops it'll mean he took a very-talented team down with him in those 2 price-dropping seasons.

That's not worse in my book!


Points: 1

#8 by big10freak // Jan 23, 2023 - 8:40am

Thought Jax on both sides of the ball had more than their share of 'almost' plays.  And while I get why they were swinging the ball side to side due to concerns about the Chiefs rush I still trust the qb to do what needs to be done if given the chance.  Think they should have given the kid a few more chances.  Still, a good effort on the road against a quality opponent.


Eagles shrugged off the JV squad.  Now they face another varsity team.  Gonna be a rock'em, sock'em affair.  Maybe we get lucky and there is weather also.  Roger and Co. can take their neutral site BS and shove it.  


Credit both Dallas lines for the bulk of the game going toe to toe with SF.  SF a hair better coached, SF qb avoided huge gaffes and the SF playmakers made some big plays.  I know it's still considered ok to take shots at Mike McCarthy.  But that Dallas team was prepped.  The energy was there.  Some of their big guys didn't make big plays and yes, in some key moments Dallas did odd stuff.  Mike M has always been a macro vs micro guy.  This was a middle class man's version of the loss to Seattle by GB in the NFC championship.  Team was ready to rumble. D landed its share of body blows.  But they couldn't land the knockout punch and when coaching needed to make decisions in real time, well, you know how that went.  


And major kudos to the Bengals.  Said my ten cents in the game thread but Cincy just came and kicked the snot out of a really good team while playing in weather on the road.  Some folks online seemed puzzled on why the home team seemed to have more issues playing at home than Cincy.  Buffalo has the same issue as the Packers from 2019-2021.  They are a team built to play in domes playing in adverse January weather.  The conditions throws just enough sand in the gears that the opponent can get the upper hand.  And for a guy like Mixon who is the very definition of the human equivalent of a horse 'mudder' then the advantage really tilts toward the road team.  I have had the chance to watch pretty much every Bengals game the second half of the season.  Always consistent effort.  Team plays tough.  They don't do many dumb things.  Their best players make plays when plays need to get made.  


Edit:  I forgot to mention how much I admired the discipline of the Bengals D.  Allen exploits defenses that leave the edge open or leave a receiver too soon.  The Bengals rarely did that.  The Bengals ends just keep taking the same path forcing Josh up the middle when he wanted to scramble.  Cincy was more focused on compressing the pocket than actually getting TO the qb.  And the guys on the backside mostly hung to their guys versus dropping off to come up on a possible Allen scramble.  Just a super job all around.


What exactly is the issue with the Bengals coach again that folks online kvetch about?  What exactly do fans want from their head coach?  Team plays hard every week, minimizes stupid mistakes, guys come off the bench and play well enough that things keep coming and oh they win constantly.  Gee, who wants THAT?


Next Sunday should be all kinds of fun.

Points: 8

#17 by TomC // Jan 23, 2023 - 9:34am

Buffalo has the same issue as the Packers from 2019-2021.  They are a team built to play in domes playing in adverse January weather.  The conditions throws just enough sand in the gears that the opponent can get the upper hand. 

Yes. Gower put it well on the Discord That Shall Not Be Named: "Buffalo built a dome team then forgot to build a dome."

Points: 4

#18 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 9:34am

The knock on Taylor is the team often does better on offense when Burrow ignores Taylor's ingrained desire to ground-and-pound. And because of their last six playoff games, this is the first one where they outplayed their opponent and didn't just benefit from outrageous fortune. For awhile there it seemed like Brady was desiccating into a hollow husk because Taylor had swiped his monkey's paw.

Buffalo this year reminded me of the 2005-2006 Pistons, who were so determined to seize home-court advantage in the playoffs in order to correct the prior season that they gassed out by the halfway point (37-5) and had nothing left for the second half of the season (27-13; 10-8 playoffs).

Points: 1

#38 by Rufus R. Jones // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:17am

With the Mahomes injury, surely Cincy will stop with the "everybody hates us" high school charade. If they can't beat KC without Mahomes, or with an immobile Mahomes, something went seriously wrong.

Points: -4

#41 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:19am

I doubt it.

Duke, Michael Jordan, and Tom Brady have non-ironically embraced "No one believed in us."

Rationality has no place in athletics.

Points: 13

#59 by serutan // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:04pm

Given a lot of the coverage leading into that game didn't seem to take Cincy all that seriously it's hard to blame them for that attitude.

Points: 1

#75 by whocares4 // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:07pm

Jags weren't doing anything because of the KC pass-rush - Doug runs an exceptionally horizontal offense. It's just how it is with him. It seems to have been designed to protect Wentz from his own worst tendencies and imported for Lawrence, another strong-armed, mistake-prone, maybe not pro-ready QB with a massive amount of upside and a troublingly low floor on his football IQ. If you take the shackles off Lawrence he tends to throw 4 interceptions and lose control of what the hell he's doing out there.

Points: -2

#81 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:23pm

If you think Lawrence isn't pro-ready or is low-floor then I don't know what to tell you.

Points: 3

#96 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:52pm

I'm more confused about the "Pederson horizontal" idea. Lawrence and Mahomes were right beside each other in intended air yards/pass attempt. Well above, for instance, the Chargers, who absolutely were a horizontal stretch team.

Pederson's plays often evolve into horizontal plays but that's because the defense chooses that - if they played it more man, the horizontal routes would turn upfield into a deep shot. Probably the most common play Pederson runs is Maestro, which is a mesh/rail/sit combo which is designed to put 3 receivers around 2 underneath defenders (triangle read) and let the QB easily find the open guy. And then if they play it with three men underneath (cover-1 ish) you hit the HB on the rail since he'll be wide open.

There's nothing really fundamentally "horizontal" about it, it's just that teams tend to play zone more than man so the underneath stuff's open and mesh routes are great.

Points: 3

#130 by whocares4 // Jan 24, 2023 - 6:56am

It's horizontal in the sense that all of the action of it takes place within around 5 yards of the LOS and the reads are made early there - and as you say, the defense can dictate for the it to stay short basically all game. Again, I'm not sure you're disagreeing with me - you're saying what I'm saying, that it's built around mesh type concepts near the LOS to make for quick, easy reads for the QB. There are deep shots built into it, sure, but that's every offense in the NFL.

Points: 0

#133 by Pat // Jan 24, 2023 - 8:20am

You said it was "exceptionally horizontal" and suggested it came from Wentz. It's not more horizontal than Reid's offenses, for instance (or the Giants) and it certainly had nothing to do with Wentz.

Mesh concepts near the line are bread-and-butter West Coast staples and have been for 40 years.

Also not *every* offense has deep shots built in, that's the main criticism of Lombardi's offense with the Chargers. Although he's gone so I guess technically it doesn't count now.

Points: 1

#131 by whocares4 // Jan 24, 2023 - 6:56am

It's horizontal in the sense that all of the action of it takes place within around 5 yards of the LOS and the reads are made early there - and as you say, the defense can dictate for the it to stay short basically all game. Again, I'm not sure you're disagreeing with me - you're saying what I'm saying, that it's built around mesh type concepts near the LOS to make for quick, easy reads for the QB. There are deep shots built into it, sure, but that's every offense in the NFL.

Points: 0

#129 by whocares4 // Jan 24, 2023 - 6:50am

The reason I hink he has a low floor is that he threw 4 interceptions in his first playoff game and the majority were dumb plays. That's as low a floor as you can go as a starter. (And it was a not a single game anomaly, he's had several multi-turnover games this year that were his own bad mistakes. This isn't an insult to him, it's just a description of facts. E.g. Jalen Hurts is another QB I'd say has a demonstrably low floor. Joe Burrow does not.)

Also, his rookie year, he looked putrid & unable to compete - that suggests he's not pro-ready. This is not a rocket science evaluation and at the beginning of this year, nearly everyone would've agreed. If you want to say, "it was bad coaching holding him back!" I'm not disagreeing per se - I'm saying "it's good coaching helping him stay closer to his ceiling than the floor."

Points: 1

#134 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 24, 2023 - 9:05am

E.g. Jalen Hurts is another QB I'd say has a demonstrably low floor. Joe Burrow does not.

Joe Burrow took seven sacks, threw four INTs, and lost a fumble -- in this season -- to a team that missed the playoffs.

I guess he has a low floor, too.

Points: 1

#9 by andrew // Jan 23, 2023 - 8:40am

Condolences on the loss of Beemo, I know how horrible that can be, I lost my dog Brandy the week before, had her for 15 years.

Points: 11

#20 by mrh // Jan 23, 2023 - 9:38am

I'm so sorry about Beemo.  We lost our scruffy white terrier Lucy on Sunday AM.

She at least had one last Chiefs game.  When we first got her, she'd get scared by the yelling over a big Chiefs TD or such.  We started restraining ourselves to a big "woo-hoo" followed by a treat for Lucy and our other dog, first Lola then Ricky.  Pretty soon, football and woo-hoos were happy, not scary.  Lucy wasn't up to eating treats much by Saturday, but she still got her woo-hoos anyhow.

Points: 9

#10 by Will Allen // Jan 23, 2023 - 8:52am

What a great weekend of games, even if none of them will be considered classics.Really enjoyed seeing two games decidedly won by offensive lines, and another was two defenses hammering anything that moved, until one offensive line took over with about 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

Chiefs/Jaguars was a very typical modern qb-centric contest, and when one of those is Mahomes, that's compelling, especially when the other is the now pretty interesting Lawrence. Given the ankle, however, I'll be surprised to see the Chiefs beat the Bengals, but then I was surprised to see the Bengals o-line dominate the game yesterday.

Points: 4

#11 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jan 23, 2023 - 9:01am

but a weaker staff would have found a way to get less from more (the Chargers, for example,

Ironically Steichen came from the Chargers. But we won't talk about that connection right now. 


Points: 0

#12 by johonny12 // Jan 23, 2023 - 9:16am

I think I'm going to pull for the Bengals. Which should be the kiss of death for them. 

Points: 0

#21 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 9:39am

Historically, the Bengals have not well-managed expectations.

Points: 0

#22 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 9:44am

I know it won't show in the DYAR stats, but Schultz's two plays basically knocked 10% of the Cowboy's SB odds all by themselves. Getting tackled in bound and then stepping OOB because he was half-assing both plays with the season on the line is totally unforgivable. He cost them 2-3 plays, 20 yards, and any chance at a Hail Mary.

Larry Fitzgerald puts out more effort in week 17 for a 3-13 team than Schultz did with a minute to go in a one-score game in the Divisional Round.

Points: 6

#25 by BlueStarDude // Jan 23, 2023 - 10:10am

Schultz probably the most overrated player on the roster (as most fans came to the light on Zeke’s limitations this season). Schultz had a good 2021, but negative DYAR in 2020 (led team) and 2022 (did not lead team). His blocking is improved from where it was, but it's still nothing special. Has had some clutch moments, but also plenty of drops and double catches, and now a couple of obviously horrendous moments.

2022 was only the third time since 1981 that the Cowboys TE DYAR leader (Ferguson) was by a non-qualifier. Ferguson and Hendershot have shown enough promise that Dallas should be comfortable letting Schultz walk.

Points: 3

#46 by BigRichie // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:31am

No excuse for the non-toe drag. But what with the new rule, Schulz had no chance of getting out of bounds on that first play. (you have to be going forward for it to now count as 'out of bounds', and if Schulz turns forward at all he gets tackled in bounds)

Points: 3

#23 by Will Allen // Jan 23, 2023 - 9:57am

If Vikings management has been on a peyote bender, and thus hallucinated that they were 2 or 3 players away from having a top 10 roster, hopefully they watched the games this weekend, especially the one in Philly, and have thus come down from their trip.

Points: 5

#26 by Handy Haversack // Jan 23, 2023 - 10:17am

Sincere condolences on the loss of Beemo. It is obvious that Beemo, like them all, was a good dog -- and lucky to know you, as you were to know Beemo.


Thanks for all.

Points: 7

#35 by jhm8163 // Jan 23, 2023 - 10:57am

I think the old “he is downgraded for being black quarterback” line from the author is a little dated at this point - get real - Hurts isn’t downgraded at all, much less for the reasons you stated as you ranked him behind a gimpy Mahomes (which in my view is inaccurate - he is better than a gimpy Mahomes).  I thought Hurts was a star in college and he has proven to be one as a pro - get off the woke talking points train - its time.

Points: 4

#40 by Rufus R. Jones // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:19am

I'll be on the "woke talking points train" as long as it gets under the skin of the "1950's style frustrated white guys."

Points: -2

#66 by mansteel // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:24pm

This is a great encapsulation of why our society's political discourse is so toxic. Thanks?

Points: 2

#94 by Rufus R. Jones // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:44pm

Sorry to disappoint. Your approval is vitally important to me.

Points: -1

#47 by BigRichie // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:36am

Mike mostly HAS gotten off that train. (he used to be a daily commuter) First time in quite a while he's given that horse corpse a whack.

I'll concur on the Hurts part of it. Who's been saying "he ain't that good"?? First I've heard of that. (granted I've never watched a minute of Skip)

Points: 3

#49 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:38am


I'll concur on the Hurts part of it. Who's been saying "he ain't that good"??

Micah Parsons.

Points: 2

#50 by BigRichie // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:41am

Okie-dokie. Thank you.

But I trust Mike isn't writing that Micah Parsons is attacking Hurts' quarterback play due to his skin color?

Points: 1

#69 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:48pm

Micah specifically? No, but Parsons's comment led to a lot of flurry in NFL media and Twitter, etc. Chris Simms, for instance, said "If Minshew is in, the Eagles are still damn good. I’m sorry," which is downright hilarious. And then of course there were tons of responses to Parsons's comment (which honestly wasn't even that bad) so you get this sudden flurry of "is Hurts a system quarterback" which really, is totally silly.

Where that sudden response to that statement came from is totally open for debate.

Points: 1

#60 by KnotMe // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:06pm

Yeah, pretty much everyone says Hurts took a BIG step forward this year. Not Mahomes tier but he was in the next group easily I think. Long term he needs hit a ceiling before you can say what he is. This year could be a new level, could just be a career year and he regresses, he could continuing improving....you never know.

Points: 4

#71 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:56pm

Not Mahomes tier but he was in the next group easily I think.

I still can't figure out how to interpret Mahomes. Reid is just such a huge force multiplier it's hard for me to gauge. I mean, again, this weekend: Reid forces Mahomes to the locker room, and Henne comes in... for a 90+ yard TD drive.

It seems insane for me to say this, but I still feel like Reid's underrated as a coach. He's had average-at-best QBs for his entire career, and then gets an elite level one and the guy looks like he could win MVP every year.

That's part of the reason why I'm so interested in seeing what Lawrence does next year because Pederson's the most direct Reid tree offshoot. (Also why I think Philly firing Pederson was double-plus dumb).

Points: 1

#82 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:24pm

Reid and Mahomes save each other from their own worst tendencies.

Points: 6

#89 by BigRichie // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:38pm

Pederson jumped the shark in Philly. Just as Reid did, really. In each case they had sufficient reason to jettison the guy. (gotta hold the coaches to the same standards you demand of your players)

And in each case it worked out fine pretty quickly, really.

Points: 1

#107 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 2:25pm

No. Philly's FO just never actually believed in Pederson, even though they won a Super Bowl with him. I mean, the media had dubbed Pederson "less qualified to coach a team than anyone" and even though Philly hired him, they weren't certain, either.

And then of course after the team declined (because of injuries and bad FA signings, but Howie's not exactly the most introspective of guys) they just concluded it wasn't really Doug, but it was Frank the entire time. So the FO's opinion on Doug pretty much never reached what it should've been. (Hence the reason, of course, that they went after Sirianni when they fired Doug, just like they went after Doug when they realized Reid wasn't actually the problem in '12). 

Doug literally didn't have control over hiring his own coaching staff, for instance, which is a bit insane. In '19, Lurie wanted the OC fired whereas Pederson wanted to keep him. He ends up literally saying "I want to be a part of the evaluation process. I want to be a voice that's heard, and I want to have that collaborative communication with Howie and his staff and be a part of that process." About his own coaching staff.


Points: 0

#106 by mrh // Jan 23, 2023 - 2:21pm

I think it's clear that Reid + Mahomes is about as good a coach - qb pairing as any except maybe Belichich - Brady.

But most competent NFL backup QBs will look good on a drive when the lead back goes for 57 yards on 4 carries (including 3 yards on 1st-and-goal on the 4), doesn't have to convert a 3rd down longer than 3 yards, can throw short to a future HoF TE against the worst (maybe 2nd worst) TE defense in the league behind one of the best lines in the league, and gets a 15-yard roughing penalty thrown in.  I'm a Chiefs fan and like Henne, but that was not a high degree of difficulty drive to execute, even allowing for the pressure and starting field position.  It didn't need a future HoF coach to call the plays either.

Points: 2

#110 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 2:33pm

I'm definitely not saying Henne did anything difficult.

But the TD pass to Kelce's just beautiful play design, for instance. Everything about the play screams run to the right. Kelce hangs at his spot just long enough so that everyone is either moving right or thinking about moving to the offense's right before going out behind the receiver such that he's in the way of three guys. Kelce didn't need to be a Hall TE for that play, and it certainly didn't matter who was covering him.

Oh, and if they would've closed on Kelce, Smith-Schuster would've been open anyway. Play was literally won the instant the safety bought the run action.

Points: 0

#36 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 23, 2023 - 10:58am

Maybe the snow slowed the Bills pass rush a bit, but it's odd how the snow only impacted one team, and it was the one from the North Pole.

Well, only one of those teams had a coaching staff that was planning for the game in front of them instead of just playing the hits. The Bengals were down three offensive linemen, but the backups aren't randos grabbed from the stands - they are still NFL caliber athletes. Cincy planned well to support them, giving them dedicated help on several plays and scheming route combos that pulled Buffalo's zones out of position so Burrow could make confident and quick throws.

Meanwhile, Buffalo lined up on defense the same way we've been doing for years and counted on the back end to buy time. Well, it was obviously not working and once the Bills offense stalled out, the Bengals offense never had to press the issue. So the Bengals line was never confused, never chasing, and held up very well.

Points: 4

#42 by KnotMe // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:21am

For coaching staff, Nick Sirianni,vs Zach Taylor is is interesting. I'm guess Taylor having the run last year beat out Sirianni having better results this year.  The final four field is pretty good this year though. 

Points: 1

#58 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:02pm

I would put Sirianni ahead of Taylor. There is still serious suspicion Taylor is a liability and not a benefit.

Alternatively, he and Staley are each half of Janus.

Points: -1

#70 by big10freak // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:53pm

I work to be objective and could nitpick pretty much any coaching staff including Cincy


But what do you think 'should' have been the outcome of Cincy's season to date with a different head coach?  


And not trying to start anything.  I am just wondering because at some point the results have to take precedence over perceptions.  As I posted in another thread the result trend line over multiple (4) seasons is positive.  The trendline within this very season has been positive.  The team's best players are playing really well.  The team gives good effort on a consistent basis.  Cincy plays a TOUGH brand of football.  Not many silly mistakes which from a Packers fan view is a d8mn miracle to see given that GB seems to practice on committing ridiculous errors.  


What precisely is missing here?  And again, this is not meant to be confrontational.  I am just legitimately buffaloed.

Points: 5

#91 by KnotMe // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:42pm

I see what you did there with that last line. :)


The main knock I can think of on Taylor is they seem to start disorganized and gel over the course of the season....which is way better than the reverse and not that bad honestly. It's possible there is something you see if you follow them more closely, but I dunno, those types of fan gripes are always there and usually not that serious. 

I wouldn't say Taylor is amazing but to me it looks like he helps more than he hurts. 

Points: 1

#100 by big10freak // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:58pm

Actually that was completely unintentional on the buffalo usage.


I have written the following here and in other forums but my view of a head coach is 1) recognize talent 2) coach the talent  3) coach to get talent to continuously improve 4) align the talent (meaning putting players in the right spot to succeed at individual and team level 5) motivate the talent 

That's it for me.  That's the job.  You do THIS, you will win assuming your management presents you with actual talent to work with as a coach.


Right now Taylor seems to be doing all of the above.


Meanwhile, my guy in GB cannot do 1 (guys play who shouldn't and vice-versa), not seeing much on 3, 4 is a struggle and 5 is very much hit and miss.


Not surprising the team is mediocre

Points: 3

#65 by mansteel // Jan 23, 2023 - 12:22pm

Just want to acknowledge the XTC reference--don't see that much these days (or, really, even when they were active).

Still, nothing tops Mike's "Poor (John) Skelton steps out" line from long ago.

Points: 0

#79 by Romodini // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:14pm

Congrats to the Bengals, who have definitively escaped from Bungles meme-team status if they didn't already do that last year.

The Cowboys, Chargers, Jets, Lions, and Commodes still inhabit that unenviable zone of prolonged and predictable futility. May one of these franchises (not the Commodes) find some way to escape this awful purgatory next year.

Points: 0

#87 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:29pm

No they haven't.

Every so often the Bengals come out of nowhere, lose a SB, and then totter around at division-winner level for a few years before Mike Brown's abject refusal to spend money erodes the base of the team sufficiently that they fall out of playoff contention again. They did this twice in the 1980s, for instance.

Burrow and Taylor haven't done anything that Anderson and Gregg or Esiason and Wyche didn't do.

Points: 2

#95 by Romodini // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:49pm

Well they at least moved up a couple levels in purgatory after escaping the Marvin Lewis realm of no playoff wins.

Points: 1

#124 by occams_pointed… // Jan 23, 2023 - 8:02pm

Actually they have.

Two seasons in a row winning the division. Never did that.

Two seasons in a row winning a playoff game. Never did that.

Two seasons in a row winning a road playoff game. That feat accomplished three times in a row now, over the two seasons, when the Bengals had never achieved this even once in the prior fifty three years of their existence.

This is the best Bengals team ever. 538 agrees, their ELO is now 1730 which obliterated their old prior peak under Lewis.



Points: 3

#127 by occams_pointed… // Jan 23, 2023 - 11:48pm

It's also lazy to blame the end of Ken Anderson's window on Mike Brown when it was more Keith Gary in 1983 that did it. Free agency wasn't anything until Esiason's Bengals.

Points: 2

#135 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 24, 2023 - 9:06am

Mike Brown won't pay for scouts. It's not just players he's miserly about.

Points: -1

#140 by occams_pointed… // Jan 24, 2023 - 3:11pm

The Bengals are spending to the cap. They don't like to play games and get into cap hell and that might cost them when Burrow is off his rookie deal.

But it's a tired line they don't spend on players in this new era. The most significant players on defense include FA like Hendrickson and Awuzie, Bell and Hilton that were legit good gets. And they signed some good OL this last year who unfortunately got hurt. Karras is a huge upgrade from Hopkins.

Mike Brown has been a very bad owner but things have changed lately. Maybe Katie Blackburn gets the credit for that. That's why trotting out the same narrative like you're doing is dull and lazy.

Points: 1

#80 by almon // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:15pm

“mush tush push” - that’s funny

the QB bangs his mitts on the center’s jewels every snap. maybe tush push is just fair play

I never played organized football … but why don’t centers snap the ball backward by the outside of their leg???

Points: 0

#111 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 23, 2023 - 2:36pm

I never played organized football … but why don’t centers snap the ball backward by the outside of their leg???

They are allowed to, but it would have to be one continuous motion from the ground past their legs and then released. If a center every did that, they'd have to twist to toss the ball past their leg, and most likely get immediately crunched by a defender in a vulnerable position.

Points: 1

#84 by Kaepernicus // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:25pm

That Cowboys defense was incredible to watch. Parsons beat Trent Williams 1 on 1 multiple times and the Cowboys got a ton of pressure in the game. DeMarcus Lawrence is flat out incredible defending the run and may be one of the most underrated players in the NFL. Trevon Diggs has become a much better cover corner this year and had a really good game against Aiyuk/Samuel. The Cowboys need to upgrade at LB if they want to be a contender in the NFC. LVE is an above average player but not good enough in coverage. Dak played poorly under pressure just like he always has. SF only got 1 sack but pressured him 17 times. The 49ers defense has guys with great hands at almost every position in the back 7 for the first time in the KS era. Tartt and Ward were fundamentally sound and poor play makers. Hufanga and Gipson are bit leakier but make teams pay for their mistakes. 

I think it is time for Dallas to let go of Kellen Moore. Dallas is built to demolish bad teams and can't adapt to great defenses. Dak is an ideal QB for a Shanahan/McVay style offense. I don't know if there are many of those guys floating around anymore after all the raiding the last 4 years but they should seriously look for one. Moore seems to forget that his QB is not very good under pressure and dials up plays that invite it.

Finally, what grading curve is the collective sports media using on Brock Purdy? He just faced one of the best pass defenses in the NFL and had an adjusted completion percentage approaching 80% when you exclude the throwaways. That was a classic Phil Simms playoff game stat line from a 7th round rookie. He led 3 separate 10+ play drives and helped the team achieve a 50% conversion rate on 3rd down. Do people remember the play before that 3rd and 2 that they are talking about? A 17 yard pass on 2nd and 19 after Brock took a bad sack trying to outrun a much faster Cowboys D lineman. Kittle's other big reception for a first down was an absolute dime from Purdy in tight coverage. His ball placement was frequently great. The reason I am asking about the grading curve is I am watching a bunch of analysts whose opinions I actually respect continue to completely whiff on grading his level of play with speculation about how much Kyle and the roster is carrying him. Determining that is literally irrelevant if you are trying to predict the outcomes of these games. Brock Purdy is being coached by Shanahan with these weapons next week too. I am about to fill out a 1099 for gambling winnings last year because there is still a bunch of sharp money betting on Purdy turning into a pumpkin. Maybe it happens in his first road playoff game against a great team, but betting on that happening seems dumb when accounting for all of the other data we have acquired in the 8 games he has played 90%+ of the snaps. Honestly from a purely financial perspective I hope everyone keeps sleeping on him. My bets for the NFCCG and AFCCG are going to be the money line on 49ers and Bengals. Round 3 is coming and that game would be fantastic to watch.

Points: 4

#115 by BlueStarDude // Jan 23, 2023 - 3:54pm

Spot on assessments for Dallas.

Barr is done. LVE had his second best season (after his rookie year) but Dallas should not make the mistake of relying on him again. Expect Damone Clark to start at one LB spot. Would be nice to see Cox develop into the second starter, but more likely it will be another FA rental.

Diggs was great against #1's all year except vs Kupp. Still burned on double moves, esp. in the Eagles game, but disappointing that he lost his sure hands over the second half of this season.

It's hard to envision the team winning a championship with Dak right now. He needs something to change, and the most sense would be to bring in a new OC—not a condemnation of the overall job Moore has done, but because I think they both will be better off at this point with such a change.


Points: 2

#122 by ChiRho // Jan 23, 2023 - 6:42pm

Yea the grading on Purdy is bizarre. Both his first two playoff games were better than any of Jimmy G’s playoff games (of course, some can’t be evaluated like the 8-pass game). Yes he has CMC, but Dallas’s D is as good or better than any of the defenses Jimmy faced in the playoffs. And while the national media did criticize Jimmy, I hardly ever heard them calling him a pumpkin or anticipating the arrival of a pumpkin around the corner. 



Points: 1

#137 by Kaepernicus // Jan 24, 2023 - 11:57am

It's really weird to see people hold on to their draft evals way after the players have spent meaningful time in the NFL. NFL tape/results is way more valuable when predicting future performance. Purdy was pressured on 48.5% of his drop backs and only took 2 sacks. His elusiveness is the real deal and he used it effectively against probably the most athletic defensive line in the NFL. 6 of the 7 first down conversions were passes and they were typically 3rd and medium/long. PFF gave him 0 TO worthy plays because the Diggs drop in the redzone happened after a crazy pass deflection from Barr at the line. The other one was a 50/50 deep shot to Aiyuk that he overthrew. It is really hard to play that well under that much pressure when the running game is doing nothing. Jimmy the statue probably throws multiple picks and takes 4+ sacks in that game en route to a multi-score loss. Seeing that kind of a performance in those conditions in the playoffs is insane from any QB, let alone a rookie.

Points: 1

#144 by Kaepernicus // Jan 25, 2023 - 11:59am

Yeah then he played a great defense in SF and folded like a napkin. Purdy just faced a great defense in the playoffs while facing more pressure than Tua did and never crumbled. We're in uncharted territory with Purdy at this point. This is the best a rookie QB has ever played in the playoffs in the DVOA era. I am pretty sure he just passed the incredible run Russell Wilson had in 2012 based on DYAR. In the 2012 run Russ never played a defense close to as good as that Dallas defense. I still give the edge to Russ because both of his games were on the road and his offensive supporting cast was worse. If Purdy leads the 49ers to the SB with another performance like this one he will be in a league of his own.

Points: 0

#92 by JoelBarlow // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:43pm

49ers scored 19 points

with all their weapons, Kyle's genius, the ability to be "multiple" (seems decently overrated) they scored 1 TD 

Points: 1

#101 by KnotMe // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:59pm

Purdy was not great, but not awful either. He did enough you could say. 

It was good to have that the last game of the week rather than first. Much more enjoyable. 

Honestly, other than the final play I don't think either team was really bad. More good defense than bad offence as they say. I wouldn't be that unhappy as a cowboys fan.  They went to a slightly better teams house and lost...it happens. 

Points: 1

#113 by Romodini // Jan 23, 2023 - 2:43pm

As a Cowboys fan, I'm unhappy because there were absolutely plays that could have been made by Dak, but weren't. Receivers were open and Dak missed them. This was probably the Cowboys' best defensive game of the season, and it was wasted due to poor QB play. 

Points: 2

#114 by big10freak // Jan 23, 2023 - 3:16pm

That is a pretty good summary of GB’s loss to Niners last playoffs along with the special teams buffoonery

Points: 1

#93 by BroncFan07 // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:43pm

Aaron commented on Twitter that the tackle that injured Mahomes was not a dirty play. I only saw the replay on it, and it seemed a little purposeful by the defender in the way he drove his knee into Mahomes' leg. What did anyone think of that?

Points: 0

#102 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 2:07pm

It was "purposeful" in the sense that the Jags defender was trying to keep from face-planting into the ground. He's not driving his knee into Mahomes's leg (it was actually his thigh, FWIW), he's just bracing for falling since the Chiefs' OL kicked his foot.

It also wouldn't've mattered either way -  if he would've just fallen prone (which is really really hard to do) it still would've sandwiched Mahomes's ankle anyway.

Points: 2

#97 by Oncorhynchus // Jan 23, 2023 - 1:54pm

Interesting factoid, this is the first NFC championship game where both starting QBs were not yet born the last time the Cowboys were in the NFC championship game. 

Here are the things I'm looking forward to seeing in the NFCCC (aside from not seeing the Cowboys):

  • Nick Bosa versus the RPO. Nick Bosa is responsible for 18.5 of the 49ers sacks and 28 of their 69 knockdowns. That's 40% of each. I'm not sure how common that split is, but it's a lot higher than the most productive pass rusher of the final eight (e.g. Micah Parsons was only around 25% of each). When the Eagles played the Cowboys with Jalen Hurts under center, they didn't bother to block Parsons. They just read him and made whatever choice he made the wrong one. 
  • The "second-ranked run defense" versus the running QB. Adjusted line yards ignore QB runs. The 49ers didn't face a lot of running QBs, especially towards the back end of the season. Maybe Jarrett Stidham is the most mobile QB they faced? And he ripped off 7.3 yards per scramble (4) and 34 yards off 7 total runs (including those scrambes.) Geno Smith got 28 yards on 4 rushes.
  • Jonathon Gannon versus Kyle Shanahan. The neat thing about the 49ers is that everybody is an "other" receiver. If Avonte Maddox is back, I'm giving the Gannon the edge. But if he's not, where does CJGJ play? Slot or safety? 
  • Eagles interior D-Line versus the 49ers interior O-Line. Is the 49ers good enough actually good enough?
  • Tortoise vs hare vs tortoise: which team turtles up first with the lead? Are either of these teams capable of coming from behind?  Are either of these teams coaches capable of keeping their foot on the accelerator when they have the lead? I have a feeling that this game is going to be close, but only because it's going to be needlessly close after Shanahan (or Sirianni) start leaning too heavily on the run starting mid-3rd quarter with a 10 point lead.

Points: 3

#105 by Pat // Jan 23, 2023 - 2:13pm

The "second-ranked run defense" versus the running QB. 

It's worth noting that not only did the 49ers not face many running QBs, they didn't face many runs period. Second fewest in the league, I think. Whereas obviously the Eagles are one of the top rushing teams not both in yards/play but also in volume.

So yeah, the 49ers did great against the run... but they also barely faced it. And of course keep in mind many (most?) of the Eagles plays develop into runs depending on what the defense does. So does the 49ers defense hang back in coverage hoping that they can rally and tackle giving up 4-5 yards at a time anyway because covering Brown/Smith on a slant sucks? Because as Philly just demonstrated, if you want to give them yards every play, they'll take it, happily.

If Avonte Maddox is back, I'm giving the Gannon the edge. But if he's not, where does CJGJ play? Slot or safety? 

Slot, same as the Giants game. Blankenship's a reasonable safety whereas Scott's a terrible slot corner. Costs you some playmaking ability because the weakside safety's got so many options but the risk/reward isn't worth it.

Points: -1

#112 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 2:42pm

You could probably run all day on the Eagles. But the question is whether Shanahan and Purdy have the patience to never gain more than five yards on a play all day, because the Eagles will make you convert seven first downs in order to score. And that works, so long as you never have a negative play.

Points: 0

#116 by serutan // Jan 23, 2023 - 4:49pm

Dunno about Shanny/Purdy, but I think Taylor/Burrow DO have such patience.

Points: 0

#117 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 23, 2023 - 4:56pm

I suspect Cincinnati has too much diva at WR to do that for an entire game.

WRs be crazy, yo.

Points: 0

#121 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 23, 2023 - 5:49pm

It's wild the difference between DVOA's view of the Bengals rush offense (4th) and their Y/C (29th).

Points: 0

#126 by coremill // Jan 23, 2023 - 10:19pm

Shanahan definitely has the patience to do this.  In the 2019 NFCCG Shanahan only let Garoppolo attempt 9 passes while running 42 times for 285 yards.  The week before that in the divisional, Shanahan called 21 passes, while running 47 times for 186 yards, including an 8-play, 56-yard TD drive where they didn't attempt a pass.

Points: 3

#132 by whocares4 // Jan 24, 2023 - 7:04am

Yeah, the big mismatch in 49ers vs. Eagles is the coaching. If the Eagles lose the game decisively, my bet is that everyone will be screaming about their coaching decisions. And not "why didn't he call a timeout there?!?" type stuff but "how the hell was that their gameplan and why didn't they change it up after things started going wrong?"

Points: 0

#138 by Pat // Jan 24, 2023 - 12:21pm

That's just Philly fans, though, who complain about coaching all the time without actually having any idea how it works.

I mean, I feel like virtually every high-end coach in the league has been bitched at by Philly fans. Reid, Pederson, Gannon, Steichen, Rivera, Schwartz, Spags, McDermott, Bowles. God knows who else.

I mean, Philly fans complain about Gannon's defense being a soft zone when it's not zone.

Points: 0

#143 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 25, 2023 - 10:05am

Philly has been ridiculously spoiled at DC for generations. You legit need to go back to the mid-70s to find a coordinator who was actually bad. They've had good DCs for basically all of the live-ball era.

Points: 0

#145 by Oncorhynchus // Jan 25, 2023 - 1:35pm

You do not need to go back to the mid-70s to find a coordinator who was actually bad. You only need to back to 2011. Juan Castillo was a terrible DC. He's was so bad, he's a Philly meme.

In fact the whole saga of Andy Reid firing Sean McDermott and hiring Castillo to the position (from offensive line coach) only to fire him a year later is probably the major reason why Andy himself was fired by the Eagles. 

Points: 0

#139 by Kaepernicus // Jan 24, 2023 - 12:24pm

I can't wait to see what Ryans dials up here. SF has had trouble with mobile QBs the whole time KS/JL have been running the show. Their biggest issue has usually been guys who scramble to throw. They did a good job shutting down the 2019 MVP Lamar Ravens en route to a close 20-17 loss. They did that by making them a one dimensional running team and held Jackson to 100 passing yards on 23 attempts. My guess is there will be a ton of zone played in this game and he is going to have Greenlaw spy Hurts. After watching quite a few games of Hurts his greatest strengths running the ball seem to be his power and vision. Greenlaw is just as athletic as him and a very powerful tackler. He rarely gets knocked back. His game is very reminiscent of Navorro Bowman from the Harbaugh days. Should be a great one score game if both of the young QBs limit the mistakes.

Points: 0

#108 by MJK // Jan 23, 2023 - 2:27pm

Well, so much for parity. :-)  Three out of the four CCG teams from last year are in the CCGs this year!

Points: 1

#128 by RevBackjoy // Jan 24, 2023 - 12:58am

Someday, and that day may never come, Mahomes will be called upon to play an AFC Championship Game away from Arrowhead.

5 for 5 so far!

Points: 1

#141 by occams_pointed… // Jan 24, 2023 - 10:51pm

For that to happen at a minimum the AFC West has to get more difficult for them than it has been.

Points: 0

#146 by Duke // Jan 26, 2023 - 12:16pm

I'm kind of surprised that you brought up and explained the comedy meaning of "put a hat on a hat" and didn't even acknowledge that it's also a phrase in football, too. I mean, I get that most of your readers would know that, but it still seems weird not to mention it.

Points: 0

#147 by jsidhu14 // Jan 26, 2023 - 2:02pm

regarding this comment: "Maybe the snow slowed the Bills pass rush a bit, but it's odd how the snow only impacted one team, and it was the one from the North Pole."

Here's what former offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz said: "The snow does favor the offense because we're the ones who know where we're going and the defense is very reactionary. And when their footing is bad, they don't move as fast we do," Schwartz said. . . . "I know no one cares about the big fellas but playing in the snow for an offensive lineman is awesome. Those DL [defensive linemen] can't move very well."

That could explain why Cincy O-line didn't struggle as much against Bills, despite struggling the week before against Ravens.

Points: 0

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