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Division Round Insights

Bengals @ Titans

Tennessee is just depressing me. Even if they win, it’s a horrible win. I need to re-assess the continuity of the offensive line here. It’s a line that’s really struggling to get any push up front in the running game. Now they have all their starters back, but it hasn’t really amounted to much - Cincinnati is winning the battles in the trenches.

Credit to Lou Anaramo. Disguising coverages, lining up heavy along the front…it’s clear the defensive coaches behind the Bengals are fully aware Tennessee wants nothing more than to just run the ball. Even though the Bengals are giving up yards in the game, they’re not giving up much in terms of success rate, which is what ultimately matters.

So it appears Zac Taylor has adjusted in the second half by opting to run Mixon more, possibly out of heavy formation. Smart adjustment.

One yard away and Tennessee couldn’t gain that one yard to earn a new series of downs. I don’t get it. If Julio Jones or AJ Brown weren’t on the field, then Cincinnati was tipped off all so easily that both would be running plays. That would confirm to me that Tennessee has absolute shit coaching on the offensive side of the ball.

Regardless of who wins this game, one thing is evident to me - when your coaching is arguably shit and you literally shoot yourself in the foot by refusing to bench somebody who’s clearly not playing at full throttle, your offense is worthless. Tennessee has had two weapons really contributing for them the entire game - AJ Brown and Julio Jones. If D’Onta Foreman was more of a focal point in the ground game instead of Derrick Henry, then this could potentially be a blowout. But with only two vectors out there, this Tennessee offense has been ground to a halt.


49ers @ Packers

Let this game serve as further proof that even a dominant receiver can only do so much against a tough defense. I’m thinking my mistake this season was not sticking with my fibonacci style of grading when it comes to evaluating offensive weaponry. A team with limited weapons can be so easily shut down, even with an elite quarterback at the helm.

Randall Cobb isn’t contributing much returning from injury. Never count on a player returning from devastating injury in the postseason. A player needs at least a few games to fully turn up.

One thing I’m beginning to reassess is the value of a quarterback’s mobility. Don’t get me wrong, some quarterbacks build their game on top of their ability to run. But that’s exactly it - quarterbacks running with the ball by design is very different from quarterbacks scrambling with the ball. And in that sense, a quarterback able to run with the ball shouldn’t be considered an additional dimension on offense.

Rodgers is clearly irritated in the fourth quarter. Some of his throws to Davonte Adams are being forced or off-target. So uncharacteristic of Rodgers, but when a team lacks toughness, mistakes like this can happen.


Rams @ Buccaneers

One drive in and Tampa Bay hasn’t done much to pressure Matthew Stafford. The Rams were limited to a field goal due to McVay calling a few questionable plays in the end zone (double-dig and fade to Van Jefferson).

Cam Akers, Odell Beckham, Tyler Higbee….the Rams are having all these weapons emerge just at the right time.

In the second half, the Rams were all too eager to drain the clock instead of put up more points. It was a very sad strategy that almost backfired when Brady tried to mount a comeback. Los Angeles has potential on offense, but McVay can’t be hitting the brake when an entire half has yet to play out.

Bowles had a hard time finding an antidote to this Rams offense. It’s a style of offense that just doesn’t play well with his philosophy on defense.


Bills @ Chiefs

Will be worth watching the Bills defense line to see if any of their players can generate some impactful plays.

It’s a little concerning watching the Chiefs resort to Mahomes running the ball on multiple occasions in the first drive to generate any production.

It took Josh Allen quite a few plays, but the Chiefs defense ultimately gave way and afforded him not one, but two lead-changing touchdowns late in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, Buffalo failed to come back successfully, but it was pretty remarkable to see Josh Allen successfully lead two touchdown drives to try and stamp Buffalo’s ticket into the playoffs. I need to be more careful assessing these teams and their backbone. It’s clear this Buffalo organization is very different from the team that was punched hard in the mouth in their first outing against New England.

Speaking of which, this Kansas defense disappointed me. They were given more than enough opportunity to finish off Josh Allen and company and they were unable to do just that. Not sure why. Perhaps Tyrann Matthieu not being back there really hurt them down the stretch, as the honey badger is so good at organizing the defensive backfield. Still…it’s inexcusable to let them convert on three fourth downs to try and steal the game away. Let this be a reminder that the defense is better than where it was earlier in the season, but it’s still remarkably pedestrian in many ways.