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Divisional Round Open Thread

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Rob, Erik and I preview this weekend’s games here.

Kalyn Kahler has a good post about the staggering idiocy of Mike McCarthy’s game-killing QB draw. The obvious problem is that the run is a huge risk, while there’s just very little difference in a hail mary from the 40 or the 30:

There’s been a lot of talk about how much time on the clock is necessary to execute a QB draw and still have enough time to spike the ball and then pull off one last shot to score the game-tying touchdown. McCarthy told reporters he didn’t expect any issues snapping the ball because the Cowboys practice this playon Fridays andSaturdays, with 14 seconds on the clock, though McRoberts’s data says 16–18 seconds are the “comfort range” for executing a play and spike.

But there’s also been healthy debate over whether it’s better to take two shots at a Hail Mary from the 41, or to choose what McCarthy did, and get closer to the end zone to have a shorter shot on one final play. Getting closer to the end zone is always a good thing, right?

Brace yourself. “Lost in the mess of this situation is that, even had the play been clocked in a timely fashion, Dallas would have gained very little on this play,” McRoberts wrote in his weekly release.

And, of course, it’s even worse than the abstract numbers — when Prescott ran, the 49ers were protecting the sideline with only 5 or 6 men guarding the end zone, while the last throw would be against a hail mary defense. The throw they passed on almost certainly had better odds than the one they were trying to get, and the could have thrown another pass with similar odds anyway! Brutal.

The 49ers have very impressive talent but one reason I really like the Packers is that while Shanahan is an excellent play caller and game planner, his game management is barely better than McCarthy’s, and against Aaron Rodgers and a real coach you can’t afford to make those mistakes.

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