The Green Packers and San Francisco 49ers square off in the NFC Championship Game as the Tennessee Titans try to spring another Arrowhead upset and knock off Kansas City in the AFC. Shawn Siegele uses the Team Splits app to examine the defensive matchups.
Last week we used two of our most popular tools to dive into some crazy splits for playoff teams. Today we use the Team and Game Splits apps to break down how the four remaining contenders have fared against the types of defenses they’ll face on Sunday.
Green Bay Packers
The 49ers fielded the NFL’s premier defense and were especially salty against the pass, allowing a league-low 5.9 yards per attempt. In the teams’ initial meeting this season, Aaron Rodgers was swallowed up. He threw for only 104 yards on 33 attempts.
The Packers faced five other top-10 pass defenses and went undefeated, despite averaging only 1.75 points per drive in those contests. Here are the Green Bay splits with the 49ers game included.
Davante Adams posted bizarre splits during the regular season but came through in a big way against Seattle. They’ll need him to do the same against San Francisco.
They’ll also need the third member of their Triplets to back up his star turn from the regular season. Aaron Jones was a non-factor against the 49ers but played a crucial role in the victories over those other five opponents.
If Rodgers struggles through the air, Jones must put on his cape and carry them to victory.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers were the No. 2 rushing offense this season, trailing only the Lamar Jackson-led juggernaut in Baltimore. While they have the flexibility to win this game in a variety of ways, their matchup with Green Bay’s bottom-10 rush defense could be the easiest to exploit.
The Packers weren’t the only team to get run over. San Francisco’s points for and point per drive increased in these contests, but the point differential really jumps out. The 49ers hammered teams with bottom-10 rush defenses by an average of 18.6 points.
With a big lead, San Francisco was able to pound the rock. Their passing attempts dropped by six, while their rushing attempts jumped by 3.5. Their deep stable of running backs paced to a 2,800-yard, 32-TD season.
For Chiefs fans, the scariest element of this game is straightforward. Their bottom-10 rush defense will face off against a rampaging Derrick Henry. In their previous matchup, Henry rushed for 188 yards and two scores, including a 68-yard TD sprint that gave the Titans a second-half lead.
Kansas City was not the only poor rushing defense that Henry destroyed this season.
The Titans schedule was littered with poor rushing defenses, and they did exactly what you’d expect. Tennessee only averaged 1.6 more rushes per game, but they were much more efficient. Against bottom-10 rush defenses, they paced to 20 more TDs and almost 900 more rushing yards.
This explosiveness translated to the scoreboard. The Titans averaged 29 points in these contests with their per drive numbers jumping from 1.85 to 2.35.
Tennessee’s path to another victory is obvious. They need to keep Patrick Mahomes off the field. Kansas City’s rising defense struggled against the Texans without superstar Chris Jones. If he can’t go this weekend, they’ll need lesser-known players to come through on the big stage.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Titans were impressive in their playoff upsets and are solid against the run, but their pass defense struggled. They gave up over 4,000 yards and 25 TDs through the air. In their previous meeting, Mahomes threw for 446 yards and 3 TDs, one each to Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Mecole Hardman.
Just how prolific were the Chiefs against poor pass defenses?
Kansas City scorched these units for 33 points per game and paced to almost 5,000 yards passing. The 35-TD pace, while well below Mahomes’ MVP season from a year ago, is enough to strike fear into any opponent.
What if we assume the Titans have turned it around completely against the pass?
The problem when you prepare for Mahomes and Andy Reid is that they can shred anyone. They blitzed New England in the AFC Championship loss a year ago, and they dominated top-10 pass defenses in 2019 to the tune of 2.8 points per drive, winning all four games with a +9.5 point differential.
As you get ready to enjoy the playoff games this weekend, make sure to check out the Game Splits app for the Packers, 49ers, Chiefs, and Titans. While you’re there, you may get pulled in by a few of our other offerings.1
Image Credit: Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Aaron Jones.
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