Drew Brees and the New Orlean Saints love the short yardage passing situations. They're not afraid to take the bomb, but most of their passing yardage comes on yards after the catch due to shifty receivers and poor tackling by their opponents. If the 49ers can take away the underneath stuff and force them to go deep we can have a good chance.
According to PFF Drew Brees had a total of 37 pass attempts. 7 came on blitzes and 15 came on some form of other pressure (the right side of their line is particularly susceptible). Of Brees' 27 completions, 15 of them were less than 10 yards, and 11 of those were over the middle. Clearly that's an area that the 49ers need to focus on and make sure his receivers don't get anything after the catch.
The offensive line struggled a bit, as the 15 pressures indicate, particularly on the right side where Jon Stinchomb did not play well (in fact I think he had the worst game of all the Saints linemen). I would overload him and send lots of pressure that way.
The team doesn't rush well, even with the weapons they have. They ran for a total of 79 yards last week, with the long of 11 yards
Defensively the Saints philosophy is very similar to the 49ers. Bend, but don't break and go for the turnovers. Their defensive line is weak against the run, and their OLB are susceptible to the pass (Scott Shanle gave up 13.3 yards per catch and JoLonn Dunbar 10.7).
I expect the 49ers to play it close but lose a heartbreaker to the Saints.
I think the Broncos are going to miss Mike Nolan this season. Defensively they did not look good. The defensive line didn't get much pressure and allowed 134 yards on the ground, against the Jaguars. Their offensive line struggled as well, and the Denver running backs gained a wopping 89 yards on the ground (this is probably why the traded for Lawrence Maroney. Kyle Orton had an ok game, but looked just average, even though he ended up with 295 yards in the air.
Orton favors the underneath stuff almost as much as Drew Brees. Of his 33 attempts, 17 were 10 yards or less. Of his 21 completions 14 were underneath. In my view he doesn't like the long ball, and I think the stats bear that out.
If I'm the Seahawks I run as much as I can. I've got two pretty good running backs in Justin Forsett and Leon Washington. I have a patchwork offensive line but that's even more reason to run than to pass. Defensively I'd put lots of pressure on the right side of Denver's line. Let Chris Clemons do his thing and send lots of help (I'd do lots of overloaded blitzes) Zane Beadles played an awful game against Aaron Kampman, allowing 6 pressures, 3 hits, and 1 sack. Beadles is a rookie who should be playing guard, not right tackle.
One other thing ought to be mentioned and that's Denver's special teams coverage. The Jaguars average starting position was on their 35 yard line, which is incredibly good. If you can start your drive off with only 2/3rd of the field to go you're in great shape. I would take advantage of their coverage units as much as I can.
Had you asked me last week I would've given this to the Broncos easily, but the Seahawks defense surprised the heck out of me, so I think we have another upset here.
The Falcons didn't do anything well against the Steelers. Matt Ryan struggled with his passing, and even though he ended up with 295 yards, he did by throwing the ball 44 times. He didn't do well in crucial situations, overthrowing his receivers on too many 3rd downs to count. At the 2 minute warning the Falcons defense forces a three and out, giving Matt Ryan and the Falcons the ball back with 1:40 left and the score tied up at 9 to 9. Ryan promptly proceeds to thrown an interception to Troy Polamalu.
The Falcons defense forces anothe three and out and the offense gets the ball back with :43 left in the game and the Falcons decide to take the game to overtime.
Matt Ryan calls tails and they win the toss, so they get the ball to start overtime and promptly proced to turn it over on downs. Twice he has the chance to win the game for his team and doesn't do it.
The Falcons running was hide-your-eyes bad, netting a grand total of 58 yards. Michael Turner averaged a whopping 2.2 yards per carry.
The Cardinals should match up well here. Take away Roddy White and Ryan doesn't have much to throw too. Focus on the run game and their defensive line should be able to handle them well.
Offensively the Falcons run defense didn't do well either, giving up 144 yards on the ground (120 yards to Mendenhall), including a game winning 50 yard TD run in overtime. I think the Cardinals should match up well.
The only cocern I have is Derek Anderson's decision making but I think this is a matchup that the Cardinals should handle fairly easily.
The bright spot for the Raiders is their defense, but they're susceptible to the big plays. If I'm To Cable I've got to be concerned about my pass rush, though I have to like what my secondary's done. I also have to be extremely worried about my offense. My offensive line gives up pressure too easily and I can't get a push for my running game. Jason Campbell is a huge upgrade over JaMarcus Russell and Bruce Gradkowski, but he doesn't have a rythm yet with his receivers.
50% of the Raider's runs were up the middle and they gaine 101 yards against the Titans. Jason Campbell gained another 35 on QB scrambles.
Defensively if I'm the Rams I focus on shutting down the run and forcing Campbell to win the game for the Raiders. I like him as a QB and think he'll do well for the Raiders but he's yet to get into sync with his receivers. Last week he went 22/37 for a meager 180 yards.
Offensively I run the ball a lot. Put the ball into #39's hands and let him get a big workout then toss in a play action to losen things up.
Defensively I think the teams are fairly evenly matched. I think the Rams defensive line is better than the Raiders, but their linebackers are better than the Rams linebackers. I think their secondaries are pretty even, but I think the Rams offense is much better than the Raiders offense.
I'm predicting a win for the Rams on this one.