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NFL Wildcard Sunday Open Thread: Throw Schotty From the Train Edition

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Yesterday, I observed that my biggest concern as a Seahawks fan was that Carroll and Schottenheimer would spend too long trying to ESTABLISH THE RUN (TM) even though the specific matchup dictated relying heavily on the team’s Canton-bound QB and two superb wideouts. But I didn’t think it was going to be that bad. That wasn’t a game plan, it was a war crime:

To step back a bit, because of powerful analytic insight that it’s generally not a good idea to make a large investment of salary or draft picks in individual running backs, some people have inferred that analytics counsels never using a run-heavy game plan. But that’s not it. In specific circumstances a run-centered game plan can perfectly cromulent, and in the regular season this was often true for the Seahawks. Even after Brady’s emergence as an immortal the Patriots have won games every year by using run-heavy game plans when the matchups dictated it. But the key phrase is when the matchups dictated it. We’ve been through this before, but one of the most important keys to Belichick’s success is that he’s not committed to any particular way of playing; he bases his game plans around the personnel he has at his disposal and his opponents in a given week, and he’s also very aggressive about making adjustments if his ex ante assumptions prove faulty or the opposing coaches come up with an effective response. What Carroll and Schottenheimer did yesterday was the exact opposite of that — the plan made no sense before the game, and they stubbornly stuck with it even though it was showing no sign of working. It was a ideological game plan, not a game plan designed to maximize their chances of winning against the team they were playing. It was the football equivalent of “owning the libs.” And it cost their team a very winnable playoff game.

BALTIMORE -3 over Los Angeles (at least formally) This is a fascinating matchup, and there are solid reasons to favor the Bolts — Rivers is still excellent while Jackson is still very raw as a passer, the Bosa-led pass rush can be devastating, and Lynn deserves more credit than he gets. But the very strong Ravens defense has already shut down Rivers once, and in what’s likely to be a close game Baltimore’s major special teams edge is hard to overlook.

CHICAGO -6 1/2 over Philadelphia That number is pretty tempting for the defending world champions. The Eagles have looked better down the stretch, with Nick Foles reminding everyone that having a backup that can actually play is useful. Nagy is likely to win Coach of the Year despite the fact that the Chicago offense has been mediocre (which isn’t to say that the praise of Nagy is unjustified; more that the still very green Trubisky is still predictably uneven.) But the acquisition of Mack made Chicago’s defense is genuinely dominant, the best in the league by a substantial margin. I think Foles turns into a pumpkin here, and the Chicago offense should be able to do what it needs to do against a depleted Philadelphia secondary.

…very good piece by Farrar about how the Seattle staff screwed up the game last night.

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