One key matchup will decide the winner of 49ers-Eagles

The Eagles permit the bottom passer ranking and yards per try on throws to gamers lined up out broad within the NFL

The 49ers can throw a wave of high-end receiving expertise at you. They usually can do it in so some ways.

San Francisco featured a number of snaps with Deebo Samuel within the backfield and Christian McCaffrey out broad early in final week’s sport. They got here out with two-back units and had Kyle Juszczyk assigned to the widest receiver positions to occupy Trevon Diggs in protection on a giant completion to George Kittle.

It’s probably the most distinctive, numerous offense within the NFL.

They’ll want a few of that multiplicity this week in opposition to the Eagles. The skin areas of the sphere have became a no-fly zone for Philly’s opposing passing video games. Philly already has an absurd go rush with 20 extra sacks than every other group this yr and 4 gamers recording double-digits. The truth that additionally they make use of two star corners, James Bradberry and Darius Slay, is sort of unfair.

Brock Purdy has been way more aggressive throwing deep and outdoors the numbers than his predecessor on this offense. Don’t anticipate him to attempt it a lot on Sunday. You simply aren’t throwing into the tooth of this secondary with that go rush bearing down on you.

Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers is an NFL quarterback

Brock Purdy might have his palms full in opposition to the most effective secondaries within the NFL. (Photograph by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Photos)

With slot nook Avonte Maddox banged up for Philly, that space has been a trigger for concern. We’ve seen groups merely keep away from the surface throws outdoors in opposition to the Eagles. The Giants didn’t get a lot performed within the passing sport final week however slot receiver Richie James did draw 10 targets. Maddox did apply for the primary time in a month this week and will go well with up. Even when he does, it’s arduous to think about Shanahan wanting his rookie passer to check Philly’s outdoors corners too usually in remoted protection.

The excellent news for the 49ers is that the majority of their passing sport flows over the center of the sphere anyway. Purdy transformed some massive third downs late within the sport final week when Shanahan emptied out the formation and Purdy might level and shoot over the center. Purdy accomplished all 5 of his throws to the slot final week general. One in all them was a giant third-down slant route from Brandon Aiyuk, who is usually their pure perimeter receiver.

We’ll must see extra artistic deployment like that to get receivers like Aiyuk and Samuel free releases and lined up in opposition to slot defenders if the 49ers are going to attain sufficient and, most significantly, hold Purdy from firing too usually into the protection of Slay and Bradberry below stress.

The 49ers permit the bottom first downs per rush on first and second down this season

The talent positions gamers on each side will put eyeballs on TV units and butts in seats for the NFC championship sport. Many fantasy soccer heroes from this season will take the sphere for each the 49ers and the Eagles.

That’s cute however I hate to inform you, this sport can be gained within the trenches.

The largest strength-on-strength matchup will come when the Eagles have the ball and attempt to set up the run. Just one working again has gone over 60 yards in opposition to the 49ers all yr and it took Josh Jacobs till time beyond regulation to get it performed late within the common season. These wide-open speeding lanes the Eagles discovered in opposition to the Giants final week gained’t be there. Philadelphia averaged a beefy 6.2 yards per carry with out together with any of Jalen Hurtsspeeding work.

The Eagles have secure of backs however their speeding dynamism comes on the again of a well-executed scheme and one of the best offensive line within the league.

Nobody pushes round a entrance seven or strikes like a pack of nimble bears like this unit does, led by Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson. The Eagles rank sixth in Soccer Outsiders adjusted line yards general however lead the NFL in “second-level” line yards. That’s the place this unit is so harmful. While you get hefty however fast guys like these on the second degree, completely executing blocks, that’s when five-yard runs flip into 10 or 15-yard bangers.

If Philadelphia can push a beforehand unmovable San Francisco protection round, they’ll win this sport. It doesn’t matter how nice any talent place gamers are; they’ll win this sport straight up within the trenches. Regardless of the 49ers’ greatness up entrance, it may be performed with Kelce and the boys in tow.

And talking of the Kelces …

The Bengals rank sixth-best in defensive success price on throws to tight ends

I can’t shake the picture of the Chiefs broad receivers letting them down in a giant sport. It’s been a nightmare situation haunting my mind primarily from the daybreak of the season. The dearth of downfield dynamism from JuJu Smith-Schuster, the shortage of outdoor separation from Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Justin Watson, the myth-making of Kadarius Toney as something greater than a gadget participant — can we actually belief this group to not depart alternatives on the sphere in an enormous sport?

One of the simplest ways to keep away from any of that’s to proceed that includes Travis Kelce because the frontman of the passing sport.

Final week, Kelce inhaled 48.6% of the targets from each Chiefs’ quarterbacks. Half of the passing sport merely flowed by means of the dynamic tight finish. With Patrick Mahomesscrambling capacity presumably compromised, it might make sense to proceed to lean on Kelce within the fast passing sport.

Bengals’ defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has been on the forefront of modern defensive soccer in in the present day’s sport. He mixes up sport plans week to week — and typically even quarter-to-quarter.

Cincinnati has been nice at defending tight ends all yr. They even held Kelce to 56 yards on 4 catches of their common season matchup. The Bengals have a diverse and dynamic security mixture and even used massive cornerback Tre Flowers as a pseudo-tight-end eraser at instances this yr. Towards the Payments final week, rookie security Dax Hill moved to cornerback with Flowers out of the combination and was in protection for a vital third down cease on a Dawson Knox goal.

Stopping tight ends with such excessive success is simply one of many methods Anarumo’s protection provides this unit an edge in opposition to among the greatest passing video games within the NFL.

Kelce hasn’t gone below 95 yards in a playoff sport since 2019. Slowing him down will show a tougher path than ever for the Bengals and Anarumo, now that Kelce’s extra of an offensive gravitational drive than ever. If we see a banged-up Mahomes getting the ball efficiently to Kelce on cease routes and intermediate targets in massive home windows all day, the Chiefs can get the Cincy monkey off their again.

If they’ll’t characteristic their greatest pass-catcher by far, they’ll danger falling to this group within the AFC title sport for the second straight season.

The Chiefs have the second-best early-down stress price when enjoying zone protection

The Bengals’ backup-laden offensive line didn’t simply survive in Buffalo final week, they thrived. They constantly pushed the Payments round within the run sport and Joe Burrow was below stress on a measly 12 dropbacks.

It was alleged to be a weak spot. It ended up being an enormous cause they gained that divisional spherical matchup. I do know it looks like reductive evaluation but it surely’s arduous to keep away from the Bengals offensive line as a key to the sport this week as soon as once more.

The soiled secret concerning the Payments’ protection: It’s not so good as you suppose. Most of their investments up entrance, (and so they’ve made loads of them) haven’t labored out to the diploma you’d anticipate. Buffalo is across the center of the pack in stress price and quarterback hurry price.

In the meantime, Kansas Metropolis is among the many top-ranked groups in pressuring the quarterback, particularly on essential early downs when enjoying zone protection.

Chris Jones has had a verifiable Defensive Participant of the 12 months kind of marketing campaign. He gained’t win the award however he’s been incredible this season, clearing every other inside distributor this yr. They’ve some guys on the sting, as nicely. Rookie George Karlaftis led the group in pressures, per PFF, whereas Frank Clark led the way in which in hits, and so they bought some good snaps out of Carlos Dunlap too.

These guys, particularly Jones, disrupting the Bengals’ passing sport on early downs can be crucial. For all of the reward heaped on Lou Anarumo, Steve Spagnuolo has lengthy been a sport plan-based coach for the Chiefs when the playoffs arrive, like multi-layered zone coverages with a press on the road to remove among the seemingly unstoppable Jamar Chase cease routes. If they’ll throw off the route timing as Buffalo so badly did not do, then a few of these go rushers can get house.

Burrow has gotten so significantly better at not taking sacks this season. That’s the mark of true quarterback progress for this celebrity passer. The Chiefs must get him again into outdated habits this weekend.

Holding the Bengals in third-and-long conditions isn’t a assure of success. No group can flip the sphere with massive performs in high-leverage conditions like Burrow, Chase, Higgins and Co. Nonetheless, it’s higher than getting nickel and dimed to demise the way in which Buffalo was final week.

Getting early down stress and never giving Burrow the identical appears each snap can be essential to the Chiefs getting by on this sport. It gained’t work each drive; the Bengals will get theirs. You simply must have a couple of extra good moments than unhealthy ones over the course of the sport when you’re Spags and the Chiefs’ cease unit.

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