How They Match Up: Week 1

Browns vs. Chiefs

In a matchup that many are predicting could be a preview of this year’s AFC Championship Game, the Browns and Chiefs will square off on Sunday.

When the Chiefs have the ball, Cleveland will need to have an answer for K.C.’s 3×1 formation with tight end Travis Kelce as the boundary-X receiver. This is a formation that the Chiefs use often, and it’s one that puts the defense in a predicament. Kansas City likes to align Tyreek Hill as the inside #3 receiver in this look. This often gets defenses to match up in quarters coverage so that they can have a defender over top of Hill to account for him if he runs a vertical route. That defender is the safety to Kelce’s side, and this leads to Kelce getting a 1-on-1 matchup. Kansas City scored a touchdown off this look against the Browns in the playoffs last season.

KelceBrownsWeek1Preview

A good pass rush will go a long way in slowing down this type of play (as the Chiefs learned against the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl). This match up was one of the reasons the Browns went out and got Jadeveon Clowney this offseason. If he can’t dress or make an impact on Sunday, it could be a long day for the Browns Defense.

Here’s how these teams match up based on last year’s stats:

KC O CLE D

KC D CLE O

Dolphins vs. Patriots

Mac Jones won the starting QB job outright this preseason. His reward will be a complex Dolphins Defense that will challenge him all afternoon. Brian Flores loves two things on defense: Blitzes and man coverage. Jones will see plenty of both.

Flores won’t allow Jones to get comfortable. He won’t make it easy to identify what his defense is trying to do. He’ll present the rookie quarterback with fronts that hide where the blitz is coming from and force him to be on top of his game mentally. Below are a few examples of the various looks Jones might see.

Down linemen dropping out underneath:

Week1PreMIAD1

Speed with DBs through the middle:

Week1PreMIAD2

Looks where no defenders have their hand in the dirt, making protection assignments more difficult:

Week1PreMIAD3

We’ll likely see the Patriots utilize those new tight ends to create mismatches against Dolphins safeties and linebackers. That’s where they’ll have an advantage in the passing game.

Here’s how these teams match up based on last year’s numbers:

NE O MIA D

NE D MIA O

Bills vs. Steelers

In their Week 14 matchup a year ago, the Bills Defense gave the Steelers all sorts of issues with pressure looks that threatened inside, aggressive coverage at the line of scrimmage, and disguises to keep the offense guessing:

Week1PreBufD1

Here’s the same play from the sideline angle – jams, contact, disruption…

Week1PreBufD2

The Steelers will be challenged up front with a new-look offensive line. However, it seems like they’ll take a different approach on offense this year based on the deficiencies that surfaced at the end of 2020 and based on their decision to take RB Najee Harris in the first round of this year’s draft.

Here’s how these teams match up based on last year’s numbers:

BUF O PIT D

BUF D PIT O

Saints vs. Packers

When these teams played a year ago, the Packers were without Davante Adams and still managed to pick apart the Saints Defense. They did this largely with play-action and motion that stretched the defense sideline to sideline, giving Aaron Rodgers the time and space to take advantage downfield:

Week1PreGBO

We likely won’t see the exact same approach this week from Matt LaFleur. However, Lafleur has proven his ability to neutralize a defense’s strengths and deploy the many elements of his offense successfully in different ways. He seems to have a distinct offensive game plan each week based on the opponent. He’ll likely have something new this Sunday to attack the Saints’ heavy use of man coverage.

The other side of the ball might be the most interesting and telling matchup across the NFL. We’ll get our first true look at what the Packers Defense will actually look like under Joe Barry. And we’ll get to see what the Saints can be with Jameis Winston at quarterback. We’re excited to see how this plays out.

Here’s how these teams match up based on last year’s stats:

NO O GB D

NO D GB O

You can check out how the rest of Week 1’s matchups look below.

Texans vs. Jaguars

Jags O Texans D

Jags D Texans O

Football Team vs. Chargers

WFT O LAC D

WFT D LACO

Colts vs. Seahawks

IND O SEA D

IND D SEA O

Panthers vs. Jets

CAR O NYJ D

CAR D NYJ O

Bengals vs. Vikings

CIN O MIN D

CIN D MIN O

Titans vs. Cardinals

ARI D TEN O

ARI O TEN D

Lions vs. 49ers

DET O SF D

DET D SF O

Falcons vs. Eagles

ATL O PHI D

ATL D PHI O

Giants vs. Broncos

NYG O DEN D

NYG D DEN O

Rams vs. Bears

LAR O CHI D

LAR D CHI O

Raiders vs. Ravens

LV O BAL D

LV D BAL O

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