Chiefs vs. Ravens
The Patrick Mahomes vs. Lamar Jackson “rivalry” has been one-sided to date, with the Chiefs winning all three of their head-to-head matchups.
In their most recent meeting (Week 3 last season), Steve Spagnuolo was not scared of the Ravens’ passing game at all. He frequently went with aggressive man coverages, either Cover-0 or combo-man coverages, that left no deep defenders in the middle of the field:
The Chiefs shut down Jackson and the Ravens’ passing game in a 34-20 win that wasn’t even as close as the score indicated. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Spagnuolo take a similar approach on Sunday, at least on 3rd down.
On the other side, you’re looking at a similar defensive approach in general. Don “Wink” Martindale loves to bring pressure more than any defensive coordinator in the league. The problem is, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are very good against the blitz. In fact, Mahomes had the #1 rating vs. the blitz in 2020 according to Pro Football Reference. Baltimore will have to find ways to get pressure with just 4 to have a chance in this one.
Here’s how these teams match up based on last year’s numbers:
Bills vs. Dolphins
Josh Allen had an MVP caliber season in 2020, and the Bills entered this year intent on putting the offense fully in his hands. In Week 1 against the Steelers, that approach didn’t work out so well.
The Bills tried to spread Pittsburgh out with their 4-wide receiver looks (Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley, and Gabriel Davis). The Steelers responded with lots of zone coverage and did not blitz a ton despite being a blitz-heavy defense in general. The approach worked as Allen was held to just 5.3 yards per attempt on 51 passes.
The Dolphins are also a blitz-heavy team. The difference is they like to play man coverage as much as any team in the league. They seem less likely to take the approach that Pittsburgh took last week if the Bills try to spread it out again. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Brian Flores attack Buffalo’s 5-man protections when they spread it out and trust his corners in their 1-on-1 matchups.
Here’s how the Bills and Dolphins compare based on 2020 numbers:
Rams vs. Colts
As we suspected this offseason, Matthew Stafford appears to be a really good fit in Sean McVay’s offense. He allows McVay to challenge downfield in ways he couldn’t with Goff.
The combination of Stafford’s talent with McVay’s scheme, on paper, would make it seem like a foregone conclusion that they’ll easily pick apart a static and predictable Colts Defense. Indianapolis plays a ton of zone and doesn’t blitz much. They really don’t try to fool offenses. The Rams will have Indys’ defense on its heels if that front-4 doesn’t get to Stafford.
Below you can see how the rest of Week 2’s matchups look based on last year’s numbers. We’ll start using 2021 stats in Week 3.
Patriots vs. Jets
Broncos vs. Jaguars
49ers vs. Eagles
Raiders vs. Steelers
Bengals vs. Bears
Texans vs. Browns
Saints vs. Panthers
Vikings vs. Cardinals
Falcons vs. Buccaneers
Titans vs. Seahawks
Cowboys vs. Chargers
Lions vs. Packers
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