49ers Run D2nd DVOA/2nd Yards allowed per carry
Eagles Run O1st DVOA/12th Yards per carry
49ers Pass D5th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per pass
Eagles Pass O6th DVOA/3rd Yards per pass
Eagles Run D19th DVOA/24th Yards allowed per carry
49ers Run O13th DVOA/10th Yards per carry
Eagles Pass D1st DVOA/1st Yards allowed per pass
49ers Pass O3rd DVOA/5th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By Hilow >>
- Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, and Jimmy Garappolo failed to practice for the 49ers on Wednesday as they deal with various ailments. As things currently stand, the team is not expecting Garoppolo back for Conference Championship Round but is expecting CMC and Mitchell to play.
- Avonte Maddox got in a limited session for the Eagles on Wednesday after missing the previous three contests. There is a legitimate chance he returns this week.
- These two teams rank second and third in the league in overall DVOA (a composite of offensive and defensive DVOA).
- Philadelphia’s three highest pass rate over expectation (PROE) values from individual games this season have come against defenses ranked in the top 10 in rush success rate allowed.
- The Eagles rank first in DVOA against the pass but 21st in DVOA against the run.
How san Francisco Will Try To Win ::
The way in which the 49ers are likeliest to try and win this game lines up pretty well with areas of the defense that the Eagles cede the most volume and production to – an off-tackle-based run game built around secondary gap creation, quick hits within the first five yards of the line of scrimmage, and schemed short area usage to the tight end. And while that is more of a straightforward game plan relative to what we’ve grown accustomed to from the 49ers, the layers of dynamism from Kyle Shanahan’s scheme leave the offense far from predictable. Expect a slow pace of play (23rd-ranked first half pace of play and 32nd-ranked second half pace of play) and an attempt at sustained drives designed to limit the number of offensive possessions from the Eagles, particularly considering their seventh-round rookie quarterback under center. And, yes, Purdy has this offense operating as the number one pass offense by DVOA since he took over, but this environment will be unlike anything he has seen during his short career. On the road in Philadelphia in an NFC Championship game is not the same as playing at Levi Stadium in a positive game script. He has also had some good variance work in his favor regarding potential interceptions thus far. Either way, expect a high reliance on Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell on the ground (with Deebo Samuel sprinkled in) and schemed short area usage to George Kittle and Samuel as the primary means of moving the ball through the air.
The fact that the ground game presents the path of least resistance for the 49ers to move the ball should allow them to run their preferred offense deep into the game – barring an extreme negative game script. The only problem is that Christian McCaffrey has been battling a hobbling calf injury that has sapped some of his explosiveness (this is less quantifiable rather than what I saw from watching the Divisional Round game back) and Elijah Mitchell has joined him on the injury report to start the week. I tentatively expect both to play here, but there is some concern with the former due to the fact that CMC handled most of the first half running back opportunities in the Divisional Round before being out-touched by Mitchell in the second half. The pure rushing matchup yields a well above average 4.62 net-adjusted line yards metric against an Eagles defense with a 32nd-ranked power success rate allowed on the season (runs between the tackles from heavy personnel sets). Finally, fullback Kyle Juszczyk should be busy for the 49ers, who should combine with George Kittle to provide what equates to additional blockers for the run game up front.
The most interesting aspect of this matchup for the 49ers revolves around George Kittle and his utilization. Typically, Kittle is kept in to block at an increased rate against defenses that either blitz a lot or are capable of generating organic pressure in the backfield, the latter of which describes the Eagles. As in, there is a legitimate scenario where Kittle sees his routes run rate take a significant hit against an Eagles defense that just missed setting the single season record for sacks this year (70; the record is 72). That’s going to be an interesting battle here due to just how good the Philadelphia secondary has played this season (first in DVOA against the pass), particularly considering it looks likely that Avonte Maddox returns from a three-game absence (nickel corner). With that consideration in mind, I find it likely that the 49ers scheme additional volume to Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey through the air, likely to fit an overall game plan of maintaining sustained drives. And while we should expect layered deep passing to be melded into that game plan at some frequency, the bulk of their offensive game plan should revolve around the run game and short area passing through schemed looks designed to get the ball into the hands of their most dynamic playmakers in space. Brandon Aiyuk should continue as the lone true wide receiver, with the majority of his work likeliest to come through slants and ball-out-quick schemed usage to keep the chains moving. Jauan Jennings and Ray-Ray McCloud should combine to eat up the remaining wide receiver snaps for an offense that utilizes heavy rates of 21-personnel alignments.
How Philadelphia Will Try To Win ::
Bengals Run D14th DVOA/9th Yards allowed per carry
Chiefs Run O17th DVOA/7th Yards per carry
Bengals Pass D12th DVOA/29th Yards allowed per pass
Chiefs Pass O1st DVOA/2nd Yards per pass
Chiefs Run D17th DVOA/14th Yards allowed per carry
Bengals Run O4th DVOA/29th Yards per carry
Chiefs Pass D22nd DVOA/5th Yards allowed per pass
Bengals Pass O7th DVOA/16th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Center Ted Karras returned to a full practice on Wednesday for the Bengals but both G Alex Cappa and OT Jonah Williams remained out.
- Patrick Mahomes got in a full practice on Wednesday after suffering a high ankle sprain in Saturday’s win over the Jaguars.
- Mecole Hardman returned to a limited session on Wednesday, his first practice reps since hitting injured reserve prior to Week 11.
- Head coach Andy Reid hinted at a potential return from running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who has been on injured reserve since Week 11.
- Expect a significant boost to the average number of offensive plays run from scrimmage in this one, with each team likeliest trying to outdo the other on offense to win.
How Cincinnati Will Try To Win ::
The last time the Bengals attempted more rushes than passes was the last time these two teams met, back in Week 13 of the regular season. They have completely transitioned the way they do business offensively to be a pass-leaning offensive unit capable of attacking multiple layers of an opponent’s defense through the air. That shift in offensive design has moved their offense to one that operates almost exclusively from 11-personnel through the utilization of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd at wide receiver, a timeshare at running back between Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, and a timeshare at tight end between Hayden Hurst (primary pass-catcher) and Mitchell Wilcox (primary blocker). Knowing their opponent this week includes an offense that can put up points in a hurry, I see it likely that the Bengals come out firing through the air to start the game, with the ultimate volume split left up to eventual game flow.
Samaje Perine has played a much larger role in this offense since Joe Mixon returned from two missed games ending in Week 14, playing snap rates ranging between 38% and 53% during that time. It goes without saying, but that has limited Mixon’s opportunities and production in the process, handling an average of 18.67 running back opportunities per game over the previous six weeks (compared to 22.33 per game prior to his injury) and only two of six games with more than 20 running back opportunities. And while the matchup yields a slightly above average 4.42 net-adjusted line yards metric, the Bengals have vastly underperformed their underlying metrics in the run game while the Chiefs have overperformed theirs on defense. That should leave eventual volume in the run game tied strictly to game flow, which also gives a very clear avenue to play either piece from this backfield.
As discussed throughout the second half of the season, Ja’Marr Chase has distanced himself from Tee Higgins as the unquestioned number one on this offense. I won’t regurgitate the numbers because they should be well-known at this point, suffice it to say Chase is making a case to be considered in the top overall wide receiver discussion across the entire league. Kansas City’s best bet at slowing down the electric wideout likely resides with L’Jarius Sneed in man coverage (considering the elevated rates of man coverage that Kansas City utilizes in their defensive scheme), but that should still present a winnable matchup for Chase here. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd should each maintain near every-down snap rates even with Higgins playing just 76% of the offensive snaps last week which can primarily be explained away due to the extreme positive game script against the Bills. The largely unheralded Hayden Hurst gives this offense a legitimate pass catching weapon over the middle of the field, one they had been without in their previous run to the Super Bowl last season. He has typically played somewhere in the 75-80% snap rate range in pass-heavy game plans and has taken a hit in favor of the blocking Mitchell Wilcox in more balanced game environments, leaving a very clear path for us to consider his services for DFS purposes (dependent on individual game flows that the roster hints at). Finally, the Bengals ranked third in the league in total targets directed at the running back position this season, which is notable considering the Chiefs faced the second most targets directed towards opposing backs this season. That is particularly interesting for the fantasy expectations for both Bengals running backs on a short slate.