Adam Thielen, Baltimore Ravens, Dalvin Cook, Derick Henry, George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo, Lamar Jackson, Marcus Peters, Minnesota Vikings, NFL, Nick Bosa, Patrick Ricard, Playoffs, Ryan Tannehill, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans
We get both number one seeds in action against the sixth seed today, so let’s see if either game has much chance of an update.
Minnesota Vikings (6th) @ San Francisco 49ers (1st)
The San Francisco 49ers started the season with an 8-0 run and finished the season 13-3, whilst they rank fifth overall in DVOA. The impressive resume won’t phase the Vikings who have already beaten the third seed Saints who ranked above the 49ers by DVOA.
The 49ers turnaround from last season is impressive even accounting for them having their franchised quarterback back from the injury that saw Jimmy Garoppolo only played three games last season. An offence that features an all pro tight-end in George Kittle who some are calling Gronk 2.0, a group of speedy running back and a quarterback whose completed nearly seventy percent of his passes. The defence is perhaps even better, second only to the Patriots in the DVOA rankings, with rookie Nick Bosa seeming to complete a fearsome defensive front.
Enter the Vikings, coming off their win against the Saints and looking more like their mid-season selves where they went 8-2 once they got the offence really working. It is clear how important running back Dalvin Cook is to the Vikings offence and Adam Thielen had a great game last week, although is dealing with cut that required stitches, which could bother him today.
This will be a fascinating contest between head coaches when the 49ers have the ball, but it looks like a great contest all round. I wonder if the Vikings playoff experience might tell at some point but it’s hard to pick an edge in this despite the seeding.
Tennessee Titans (6th) @ Baltimore Ravens (1st)
The Baltimore Ravens are perhaps one of my favourite teams to watch in the NFL right now, which is only tempered by the fact that the Bengals will have to compete them in the division for years to come. In his second season Lamar Jackson passed for three thousand yards, ran for another thousand as he dominated the league and made the extraordinary seem routine. When combined with a blitz heavy defence whose coverage improved with the acquisition of Marcus Peters you had the recipe for the best record in the record season. Hell, they even had a three-hundred-pound two-way play in Patrick Ricard who plays both fullback and defensive end.
The Titans go into Baltimore having knocked out the Patriots last week, will be hoping that Derrick Henry will be able to control the clock again and that Ryan Tannehill has a better game. However, I think this is a clearer contest as whilst the offences will be more conservative in the post-season, I think the Ravens are going to have too much offence for the Titans to keep up. For all of Henry’s two hundred rushing yards last, the Titans offence only scored thirteen points and I think that is going to be the problem.
DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.