Superbowl Team’s Achilles Heel
Currently, I am quite happy with my Superbowl picks (Chiefs and Seahawks). Both are sitting at 3-0, led by superstar QBs and top tier coaches. Both seem to be the class of their divisions and one (Seahawks) is home to the current MVP (Russell Wilson – also my MVP prediction). However, now I’ve stopped complementing myself, just 3 weeks into the season, both teams have got issues.
The Chiefs don’t have a dominant O-Line. This is in part down to the opt-out of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (who is currently one of the many doctors fighting Covid 19). Their O-Line has had some issues in the run game, sitting in the middle of the pack (16th) as per Football Outsiders. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, however, is a beast and well worth the 32nd overall pick in the draft and is able to rise above any subpar blocks with his natural shiftiness and elusiveness. His small frame 5ft 7In (yet 208lbs) allows him to duck through holes, but have the power to break multiple tackles, hence why he has been able to rush for 240yds at over 4yds/carry (4.4). Any other issues are dealt with by Mahomes or the Andy Reid play-designs. The only way to keep the Chiefs low on scoring is going to be pass rush to take advantage of the O-Line to force Mahomes to get rid of the ball. Jackson Kreuger Sports has also pointed out that a pass rush coupled with cover 3 can cause some issues for the Chiefs. It isn’t much but it is a single crack, teams need to find a way to make it fully break if they don’t want to see the first back to back Superbowl Champions since the Patriots in 04 and 05.
The Seahawks (whilst I believe are the slightly better team) have a much larger gaping whole. This is that they don’t really have a secondary. By the end of the Cowboys game, the Seahawks had only 5 players available to play in the secondary positions due to injuries. The largest of that was Jamal Adams. While he has accumulated 2 sacks through 3 games (for a safety!), his main ability is his versatility. He can play basically every position on defence barring DT and therefore the QB is uncertain what he is doing on each play. Uncertainty is the natural enemy of a QB; for those unconvinced, see the 2018 Chiefs@Patriots week 6 matchup. There, Belichick repeatedly used hybrid defensive fronts, on one play, Hightower originally rushed before dropping into coverage. Mahomes was uncertain of what was happening, and Hightower got an INT. This is what Adams can create for the formally lacklustre secondary. Luckily his injury should only keep him out of the week 4 match in Miami (very winnable).
However, the secondary difficulties don’t stop there. Marquise Blair unfortunately became caught up in the ACL and hamstring apocalypse in week 2. Blair was a converted safety to nickel back and therefore had rare size for the position. Now, 5ft 8in Ugo Amadi is tasked with shutting down the tight ends. Whilst he was able to lock up Dalton Schultz against the Cowboys, Mike Gesicki, this week against the Dolphins is a large rise in level … good luck.
The last parts to mention with this Seahawks defence is that Shaq Griffen needs to play tighter on 3rd down. It was much but twice on a single drive, Griffen seemed to lose his awareness as to where the first down market was allowing conversions by a single yard, if he pushes up; it’s 4th down, not 1st. The other is that the pass rush needs to improve which is difficult without Bruce Irvin. However, Pete Carroll has repeatedly shown an ability to get a defence in good-enough order for the playoffs and this year, “good-enough” is all the defence needs to be with the QB being Russell Wilson.
Bears @ Falcons – What Happened?
So, the Falcons have lost two games in a row that they had a 99% chance of winning. Losing from 39-24 in week 2 (@ Cowboys) and now losing from 26-10 in week 3 (vs Bears). The probability of losing a 99.9%-win percentage game, then a 99.1% game is 990,000/1. That is how ridiculous the Falcons are. People hear of a Superbowl hangover – well the Falcons are well beyond that right now. Ever since Hightower forced that fumble in Superbowl 51, something has gone wrong in Atlanta. Their defence is lethargic in pressure situations, Grady Jarrett is doing everything by himself – and, sadly, it’s not possible. Dan Quinn is a very smart coach, he’s probably the only coach that I want to get fired for his own good. Quinn is head coach material and has proved that as a top DC in Seattle throughout the Legion of Boom years. Then leading the Falcons to Superbowl 51 and keeping an injury riddled team afloat thereafter. However, now, he needs a new start. Looking at the defensive talent in Jacksonville, it would be a perfect fit for Quinn for if/when Doug Marrone is fired.
Chicago is the worst 3-0 team in a long time. They scraped past the Lions, before almost tripping on the dreadful Giants. Then this game happened. I hope for Bears fans that they have finally given up on the Trubisky experiment. Overthrowing targets and a seemingly lack of ability to through back shoulder fades without Allen Robinson bailing him out. As a result, halfway through the match, Mr Foles entered and summoned all of his backup QB magic to take the Bears to 3-0 and look almost as good as he did on his Superbowl run. However, Foles’ magic is only good for a few games before he returns to a slightly below average QB. But, while his is at his peak, the Bears need to go BIG on the deep ball. Foles throws a beautiful and accurate deep ball (unlike the former starter) and that is the way forward. To add to this, it will move the LBs back and create room for Montgomery to start running hard again.
Rodgers is Back
Aaron Rodgers has returned to MVP contender. On the Pat McAfee he expressed that he has fallen back in love with life. That is showing on the field, even without the monster that is Davante Adams, Rodgers was dropping dimes everywhere. Without Adams this week, Rodgers registered 283yds and 3 TDs against a decent Saints secondary. There was a time that the Green Bay Packers were guaranteed Superbowl contenders but over the 2017-28 seasons they went a combined 13-18-1 due to injuries (notably to Rodgers) and inner team conflict. However, they crawled to a surprising 13-3 last year to win the division, but this year their aim should be Superbowl. They can take it to the Seahawks, Chiefs, Ravens and Bills (it’s very weird putting the Bills in that class) and I look forward to seeing it play out over the season; welcome back Aaron Rodgers.