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NFL’s weird wild-card weekend scheduling

wildcard preview

I’ll be sharing my lukewarm takeaways for this weekend’s video games within the Sunday FreakOut: Wild-Card Version. The next is the weekly Soccer Issues preview column, coming to you within the wee hours of Sunday morning as God meant…

1. It’s unclear how the least intriguing recreation of the weekend would find yourself within the Sunday evening spot*, however I’m guessing you’re going to be tuning in anyway for the reason that solely viable counterprogramming is reruns of Bones. (I feel it’s the episode the place they discover a bone.)

It’s been the case all season: For the Steelers to stay round in opposition to high quality opponents they should get a pair takeaways and/or one thing like a blocked-punt landing. The Chiefs misplaced an entire heap of weird turnovers early within the season—which brought about a collective freak out—so it’s throughout the realm of risk. However it’s arduous to check how the Steelers hold it shut on Sunday evening except Chad Henne has to get entangled. And even then…

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Right here’s what we all know in regards to the Steelers: They rush the passer properly. (“They” being T.J. Watt, plus Cam Heyward getting in passing lanes.) And that’s about it. Their run protection, constantly among the many finest within the NFL, allowed probably the most speeding yards per try within the league and in franchise historical past (4.99). Their offense is essentially constructed round Najee Harris creating one thing out of nothing; they’ve the league’s largest abomination of a passing offense north of Miami.

Contemplating nearly all of the television-watching world has had their fill of the Ben Roethlisberger Farewell Tour, this threatens to be some very unwatchable programming within the crown-jewel spot.

*—I do know, I do know, Mahomes and the Steelers.

2. Having Nick Bosa main a very good entrance 4, in addition to Fred Warner on the second stage, made his life simpler, however first-year 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans deserves credit score for making it work with a disastrous group of cornerbacks. Josh Norman ended up main all their CBs in snaps, and these days they’ve been leaning closely on third-round rookie Ambry Thomas. You’ll be able to’t belief these cornerbacks. And when you possibly can’t belief your cornerbacks, it limits what you are able to do as a defensive coordinator.

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So on Sunday it received’t simply be the truth that the 49ers’ largest weak point will probably be matched up with one of many Cowboys’ largest strengths, or the truth that the 49ers can’t merely depend on Nick Bosa and Co. wrecking this recreation in opposition to an excellent Dallas offensive line. Ryans should give you one thing inventive to decelerate the Cowboys. In Dallas’s final loss, Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph did simply that with a heaping quantity of simulated stress appears, constantly throwing Dak Prescott out of rhythm. However I’m undecided somebody will get Dallas with that sort of gameplan once more this season, and I’m undecided it performs to the 49ers’ strengths anyway.

3. The absence of Lavonte David will loom particularly massive in opposition to an Eagles crew that desires to run it many instances and would favor run it properly. The Bucs have been the perfect run protection within the league final season, however they slid again this 12 months. And within the 5 video games that David missed with harm, they allowed 4.96 yards per rush try.

Throw within the Bucs’ shrinking solid of weapons for Tom Brady, and issues might be extra fascinating than you suppose in Tampa.

4a. There are just a few groups who, in a typical 12 months, can be diving headfirst into the quarterback market this offseason. However this 12 months is completely different; they perused a pair aisles and realized all they’ve on the cabinets are these pre-mixed containers of ketchup and mayonnaise.

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Deshaun Watson will probably be moved, however shouldn’t be for everybody (for apparent causes) and in addition has a no-trade clause. Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson are potentialities however not assured to be accessible. Should you don’t land a type of three and also you’d wish to win now… Kirk Cousins? Jimmy Garoppolo?

The Colts have been first to trace they’re open to new potentialities. Indy is a superb vacation spot for a quarterback; they’re one offensive deal with away from having an important offensive line, the protection is championship-ready, and Frank Reich is nearly as good a head coach as there may be. Maybe there’s a state of affairs the place Russell Wilson forces his approach there. However in any other case, with out a first-round decide (in an underwhelming QB draft class), they’re unlikely to discover a higher possibility than, properly, bringing again Carson Wentz. After which they will simply need to hope {that a} conventional offseason (keep in mind, he missed nearly all of final summer season with a damaged foot) permits the teaching employees to wring extra of those disastrous hero performs out of his system.

4b. The Colts, in fact, ought to have simply saved and continued to develop Jacoby Brissett reasonably than reducing bait as a result of he couldn’t make it work with a gaggle of practice-squad receivers in the course of the one stretch when Matt Eberflus’s protection imploded.

5. It’s time for Soccer Issues Honors. In a approach these are the one awards that matter, as a result of winners are gifted an Arby’s 5 Roast Beef Sandwiches for $5.95 coupon. Not for every winner—the winners want to separate the 5 sandwiches amongst themselves, which is why I want everybody who received an award under to e-mail me with what dates you may make it to an Arby’s to assert your prize, and which Arby’s location you like. Right here’s how the one-person vote went:

MVP: Tom Brady (runners-up so as of end: Aaron Rodgers, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert)
Defensive Participant of the 12 months: T.J. Watt (Aaron Donald, Myles Garrett, Darius Leonard, Micah Parsons)
Offensive Participant of the 12 months (aka finest non-QB): Trent Williams (Cooper Kupp, Jonathan Taylor, Mark Andrews, Davante Adams)
Offensive Rookie of the 12 months: Ja’Marr Chase (Jaylen Waddle, Mac Jones, Kyle Pitts, Rashawn Slater)
Defensive Rookie of the 12 months: Micah Parsons (Patrick Surtain II, Christian Barmore, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Odafe Oweh)
Comeback Participant of the 12 months: Joe Burrow (Dak Prescott, Nick Bosa, Jimmy Garoppolo, Carson Wentz)
Coach of the 12 months: John Harbaugh (Mike Vrabel, Frank Reich, Invoice Belichick, Matt LaFleur)

6. Women and gents . . . Smashing Pumpkins!

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