The 2015 NFC Championship features a rematch from Week 1, with the Green Bay Packers visiting the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks won handily in September, but the NFC championship will have different key players, schemes, and match ups:
WHEN GREEN BAY HAS THE BALL:
Green Bay cut the field in half when they chose not to attack the right side of the field to avoid Richard Sherman Week 1; Green Bay aligned #11 Jarrett Boykin to the right on the vast majority of snaps. The Packers must attack all parts of the field in order to be successful this week. While the Packers will almost certainly line up #87 Jordy Nelson to the right more often, the emergence of rookie #17 Davonte Adams gives Green Bay a viable threat even when Jordy Nelson is on the left side of the field. However, attacking the right side of the field doesn’t necessarily mean attacking Sherman 1 on 1. Look for Green Bay to manipulate formations to move Sherman away from the outside most Receiver. Dallas was able to do this from a Trips tight formation, with the TE as the lone eligible receiver to the left, and 3 Wideouts to the right:
Week 13 features a cross-conference matchup between the two hottest teams in the NFL, the Packers v. Patriots. Let’s take a further look at what to expect in this potential Superbowl 49 showdown:
WHEN GREEN BAY HAS THE BALL
In their last two games against some of the NFL’s most prolific passing offenses (Colts & Broncos), the Patriots shut down the opponent’s run game early and forced obvious passing situations with New England in the lead during the 2nd half. (Broncos under 40 yards rushing, Colts under 20 yards rushing). This plays right into Belichick’s hands, as he wants to primarily stay in either Nickel, Dime, Big Nickel (3 S), or Penny (4 CB 1 S) personnel. Expect New England to be in some kind of sub-package (More than 4 DB’s) for most of the game. With that, Green Bay should try to establish some kind of run game in the 1st half to make the Patriots Safeties downhill players. However, Vince Wilfork and recent acquisition Alan Branch have done a good job against the run, and the Packers have had struggles of their own in the run game. While Eddie Lacy was able to seal the game late last week, Minnesota was able to effectively stop the run in the 1st half multiple times with Nickel Personnel (2 LB 5 DB), even when Green Bay played with a Tight End or Fullback (seen below). Overall, the success or failure of the Packers run game will likely be essential for how the Patriots use their defensive personnel.
The first quarter of Week 5’s Thursday Night game featured a 66-yard Aaron Rodgers Touchdown to Jordy Nelson. Rodgers put on a QB clinic on this play with an excellent Play Action fake, going through his progression, looking off a safety, and then throwing an accurate deep bomb to Jordy Nelson on a Sting Route. Green Bay only needed a 2-man route to score a Touchdown. Here is the pre-snap look with the routes: Green Bay is running a Play Action pass faking Outside Zone to the left. Randall Cobb, (#18) at the bottom of the screen is inside releasing and running a deep “Post-Dig” route at 15 yards. Finally, Jordy Nelson, (#87) the Wide Receiver at the top is inside releasing, stemming to the corner, and then running a Deep Post (called a Sting Route):
Minnesota is in a base 4-3 Cover 2 look, with both Safeties responsible for one “Deep-Half” of the field, and each of the Cornerbacks and linebackers taking an underneath zone for five defenders across underneath: Continue reading →