Week 21 Passing Matchups

by Mark Wimer and Joe Bryant, Exclusive to Footballguys.com

Jump to Rushing Matchups

Great Matchups:
Good Matchups:
Neutral Matchups: [SF]
Tough Matchups: [BAL]
Bad Matchups:


PLEASE NOTE: This does NOT replace the Cheatsheet ranking. The Cheatsheet rankings are the final say on where we see a player for that week. The Matchup Breakdowns are simply one more tool in the box when it comes to helping choose your lineup.

Also note, just because a player has a "bad" matchup, it does NOT mean he's not a starter in your league. If Aaron Rodgers is playing the toughest pass defense in the league, that just means he's got a tough matchup that week. He's also your starter unless you're loaded at QB. In the same way, if the worst QB on your roster has a "great" matchup that week, it doesn't necessarily mean he's your starter. It means we think he'll fare better than normal that week.

Bottom line is that the cheatsheets are the final say.


San Francisco 49ers Passing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

These teams haven't faced off during the 2012 pre- or regular season, so they'll have watched lots of film on each other during the bye week. As two brothers are the head coaches of the two teams (in case you haven't heard yet), you can expect a high-intensity contest at all levels of the teams in this most-anticipated game of the year.

Colin Kaepernick showed off his skills as a runner (16/181/2 rushing vs. Green Bay last week) and a passer (17/31 for 263 yards passing, two TDs and one interception, with just one sack taken for -7 yards vs. the Packers' pass D that was fourth in the NFL with 47 sacks during regular season). Kaepernick set an all-time NFL record for rushing the football by a quarterback in a single game. Kaepernick has also proved to be very simpatico with Michael Crabtree - they were almost automatic during the divisional round with 11 targets for 9/119/2 flowing to Crabtree. Frank Gore was second on the team in receiving vs. Green Bay with two for 2/48/0, followed by Vernon Davis (five targets, but just one reception for 44 yards). Fellow tight end Delanie Walker also saw five targets, but like Davis managed just one reception (for 17 yards). At Atlanta, Davis picked his game up several notches and led the 49ers in receiving with six targets for 5/106/1, while Michael Crabtree saw the most targets and receptions with seven for 6/57/0. Randy Moss made an impact with four targets for 3/46/0, and Delanie Walker handled two for 1/20/0 during the game. With Davis now in synch with Kaepernick and Moss making some solid plays, the 49ers' passing attack is going full bore entering the NFL Championship game.

The Ravens' pass D averaged 228.1 net yards allowed per game during regular season (17th in the NFL) with a low 15 pass TDs given out during 2012 (second-least in the NFL during regular season). They had 13 interceptions (19th in the NFL) and 37 sacks (tied for 15th) last year. During the playoff game at Indianapolis, the Colts managed 28/54 for 267 net yards passing, zero TDs and one interception thrown, with three sacks taken for -21 yards. Peyton Manning made some key errors in this phase of the game with two interceptions thrown during the divisional round, but he also put up 28/43 for 273 net yards and three TDs (with three sacks taken for -17 yards). Tom Brady wasn't sacked at all in the conference championships, and threw for over 300 yards (29/54 for 320 yards, one TD and two interceptions), but he also threw two turnovers vs. Baltimore. The Ravens' pass D has been vulnerable thus far in the playoffs (averaging over 286 yards passing allowed per game during the playoffs), but the turnovers they are generating have helped pull out W's - and the fact that Joe Flacco has thrown eight TDs with zero interceptions thus far has helped a bunch, too.

Kaepernick has thrown five TDs and just one interception over the last three games he's played - he's being pretty careful with the football. The Ravens' pass D is giving between the 20's this year, and can be scored on - they haven't shut down the passing attacks of their last two opponents, though they did force turnovers. On balance, we see this one as a neutral matchup for San Francisco's young quarterback.

Weather: Inside the Louisiana Superdome, weather won't be an issue for either team.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Baltimore Ravens Passing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

These teams haven't faced off during the 2012 pre- or regular season, so they'll have watched lots of film on each other during the bye week. As two brothers are the head coaches of the two teams (in case you haven't heard yet), you can expect a high-intensity contest at all levels of the teams in this most-anticipated game of the year.

Flacco pulled out a big upset in Denver, slinging 18/34 for 331 yards passing, three TDs and (most importantly) zero interceptions. Torrey Smith was a huge factor in the long-ball game, snagging a 52 yard TD and a 32 yard TD to end the day with 3/98/2 rushing (six targets). Jacoby Jones also hauled in a 70-yard long bomb for a TD (five targets for 2/77/1), while Anquan Boldin (11 for 6/71/0), Dennis Pitta (five for 3/55/0) and Ed Dickson (four for 3/29/0) were all also heavily involved in the blitz of Denver. At New England during the conference championship game, Smith led the team in targets and receiving (nine targets for 4/69/0), while Boldin (eight for 5/60/2) and Pitta (seven for 5/55/1) handled the three scoring passes from Flacco (21/36 for 240 yards passing, three TDs and zero interceptions thrown). Flacco has thrown eight TDs and zero interceptions during the three playoff games, and he hasn't thrown a pick since December 16, 2012. Boldin is excited about entering his second Super Bowl appearance, commenting: 'That's one of the things the Ravens have allowed me to do, just come in and be a football player. Coach [John] Harbaugh talks about it all the time: let your light shine, be yourself. They really allow you to do that, so I'm happy for that.' Dickson also commented on Wednesday, January 30 saying 'We've seen the success that Atlanta had. We're not going to be na´ve. I'm sure they've made corrections. In the end, it's all about us and the things that we do well with running the football and passing the ball, just being a balanced offense. We've seen a lot of things on film we can exploit, and we'll go after those things.' The Ravens' passing attack is nuclear-hot entering the Super Bowl, folks.

The 49ers finished regular season ranked fourth in the NFL averaging 200.2 net passing yards allowed per game, with 19 passing TDs given up balanced by 14 interceptions (tied for 16th in the NFL) and 38 sacks (tied for 11th) generated to date. They completed regular season against the hapless Cardinals, and the 49ers limited Arizona to 19/34 for 207 net yards, one TD and one interception, with two sacks for -18 yards; during week 16 they allowed just 15/22 for 170 net yards to Russell Wilson, but he threw four TDs on the 49ers vs. just one interception, and he was only sacked once (for -1 yard). After their first-round bye, the 49ers allowed 26/39 for 248 net yards, two TDs and one interception to Aaron Rodgers and company (with only one sack for -9 yards against one of the poorest pass-blocking offensive lines in the league this year). Matt Ryan took just one sack for zero yards in the NFC championship game notching 30/42 for 396 yards passing, three TDs and one interception during the 28-24 loss to the 49ers. The 49ers pass D was knocked back on their heels a bit coming into this game, but the bye week should have everyone well rested and back near full strength.

The Ravens are on a big-time roll in this phase of the game, while the 49ers haven't been at the top of their abilities during the playoffs - still though, we see this as a tough matchup for Flacco and company.

Weather: Inside the Louisiana Superdome, weather won't be an issue for either team.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


© Footballguys - All Rights Reserved