Bucky Brooks
Thursday November 29th, 2007

MORE GAME PLANS: Detroit-Minnesota | San Francisco-Carolina | Buffalo-Washington | Houston-Tennessee | Atlanta-St. Louis | Seattle-Philadelphia | San Diego-Kansas City | N.Y. Jets-Miami | Denver-Oakland | Cleveland-Arizona | Tampa Bay-New Orleans | Chicago-N.Y. Giants | Cincinnati-Pittsburgh

Jaguars' Game Plan

Stick to the formula. Jacksonville inexplicably deviated from its smash-mouth game in the first meeting with the Colts. But expect the Jags to stick with the formula in the rematch. Look for a steady diet of power runs by Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew to set up a few deep shots to Reggie Williams and Dennis Northcutt off play-action.

Turn up the heat. The Jags are primarily a two-deep team, but they have tweaked their scheme to feature more five-man pressures in passing situations. With the Colts' offense succumbing to pressure in recent weeks, look for Jacksonville to turn up the heat by calling more blitzes early in the game.

Colts' Game Plan

Feature the draw. Joseph Addai's emergence has given the Colts' offense an effective counter to increased blitz-looks they have faced this season. With the Jags revving up the blitz packages, look for Indy to give Addai several carries on draws and delay to take advantage of the up-field rush.

Keep Bob Sanders in the box. The Colts will eschew their standard two-deep look in favor of more three-deep zones to involve Bob Sanders in the rush defense. By dropping Sanders in the box, Indy should always have a free hitter available to help slow the Jags' third-ranked rushing attack.

Lions' Game Plan

Back to attack mode. The Lions have lost their offensive rhythm and have failed to aggressively attack their opponents out of their four-receiver sets. But look for Mike Martz to jump start the spread formation against the Vikings' two-coverage by throwing quick option routes to Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald before connecting with Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson on deep crossing routes.

Eight is enough. The Lions held the Vikings' potent rushing attack in check in their first meeting by keeping eight-men in the box on most downs. Given their success in the initial match up, look for Joe Barry to frustrate the Vikings with an assortment on zone blitzes and three-deep looks on most downs.

Vikings' Game Plan

Beat 'em up with the 1-2 punch. The return of Adrian Peterson adds more punch to the league's top-ranked running attack. Expect Brad Childress to hammer the the Lions with an assortment of outside zone runs featuring Peterson and Chester Taylor.

Turn up the heat. The Lions' pass protection woes will lead Leslie Frazier to keep up his blitz-happy tactics on early downs. Expect to see lots of five- and six-man pressures from the Vikings as they aggressively come after Jon Kitna in the pocket.

49ers' Game Plan

Gore, Gore, Gore. The 49ers' return to the win column was keyed by Frank Gore's breakout performance (214 total yards and two touchdowns). Expect San Francisco to continue to ride Gore against Panthers' disappointing defense.

Be aggressive. The 49ers will challenge the Panthers' inept offense by bringing pressure from all angles. Look for Patrick Willis, Tully Banta-Cain and Michael Lewis to have plenty of chances to get after the passer on an assortment of blitzes.

Panthers' Game Plan

Use a simple attack. Carolina's offensive woes will lead Jeff Davidson to simplify his offensive attack to get more out of the team's playmakers. Look for the Panthers to lean on the quick-passing game to get Vinny Testaverde and Steve Smith untracked early.

Snuff it out. The Panthers must stop the 49ers' running game by using eight-man fronts to limit Gore's running lanes. By stuffing Gore early, the Panthers will be able to aggressively pressure Trent Dilfer in the pocket.

Bills' Game Plan

Maintain balance. With Trent Edwards at the helm, the Bills will run an efficient offense keyed by a solid running game complemented by high-percentage play-action passing game featuring Roscoe Parrish and Lee Evans. Look for Steve Fairchild to continue to strive for a balanced attack against a formidable Redskins' defense.

Stack the strong-side. The Redskins have success running the football on outside zones and powers to the strong side of the formation, so expect the Bills to use Donte Whitner as an edge defender to force Washington running back Clinton Portis to cut back into the teeth of the defense.

Redskins' Game Plan

Wear 'em down. The Redskins will look to hammer away at the Bills' undersized defense by pounding the ball between the tackles on an assortment of zone runs. The Bills have wilted under relentless ground attacks, so expect Portis to shoulder a heavy workload.

Mix up two-deep looks. Gregg Williams has molded the Redskins into an effective two-deep team. But his scheme uses a variety of underneath looks to bait QBs into mistakes and turnovers. Look for Williams to a series of disguises and combination coverage underneath to disrupt Edwards' rhythm in the pocket.

Texans' Game Plan

Attack the middle of the Titans' defense. The loss of Albert Haynesworth has left the Titans vulnerable to inside runs. And the Texans will seek to exploit that weakness by pounding Ron Dayne between the tackles. Dayne has averaged almost five yards a carry in his last three games and should find plenty of running room against a Tennessee defense giving up 160 yards a game since Haynesworth left the lineup.

Pressure Vince Young off the edges. The Titans' dynamic playmaker is at his best when working on the perimeter, so the Texans will bring pressure off the edges to keep Young confined to the pocket. By limiting Young's improvisational plays, the Texans should be able to take advantage of his ineffective play as a pocket passer.

Titans' Game Plan

Rejuvenate the running game. After being held to a season-low 61 rushing yards, the Titans will attempt to get back on track against the Texans. Look for them to use Chris Brown and LenDale White between the tackles complemented by an occasional bootleg or draw by Young.

Fix the leak. Tennessee's run defense has fallen from the ranks of the elite during Haynesworth's absence. But expect Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to make a few adjustments to get better penetration from his interior line. By slanting or stunting his defensive tackles, Schwartz should better occupy the Texans' interior blockers and free up linebackers Keith Bulluck and David Thornton to flow freely to the ball.

Falcons' Game Plan

Handle the pressure. The Rams' defense has played better in recent weeks since switching to a blitz-heavy game plan. The Falcons will handle the pressure by using a quick, rhythm passing game to keep Joey Harrington upright in the pocket. If Harrington can pepper the Rams with an assortment of slants, quick outs and hitches, the Falcons will be able to slow the Rams' pressure package.

Focus on Steven Jackson. The Rams' offense has been more productive with Steven Jackson in the lineup, as his power running has opened up the vertical passing game to Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Look for the Falcons to throttle Jackson by using Lawyer Milloy near the line of scrimmage as part of a variety of eight-man looks.

Rams' Game Plan

Crash the party. The Rams have used the blitz to successfully derail offenses in recent weeks. And they will use the blitz to slow down an improving Falcons' running game. Expect to see Will Witherspoon and Brandon Chillar crash off the edges to slow Warrick Dunn in the backfield.

Balanced is better. The return of Jackson has allowed the Rams to use their successful formula from a season ago (power running complemented by deep play-action passes) to get the offense going. With Gus Frerotte under center, expect Scott Linehan to use the balanced attack against the Falcons' suspect defense.

Seahawks' Game Plan

Feature the quick game. The Eagles will be encouraged to bring lots of pressure after watching the Rams use the blitz to batter Matt Hasselbeck in the pocket. Look for Mike Holmgren to protect Hasselbeck by calling more quick-rhythm throws designed to get the ball out of his hands before the pressure gets him.

Use multiple pre-snap disguises. Despite A.J. Feeley's solid performance against the Patriots, he still turned the ball over twice on ill-advised throws. Expect the Seahawks show multiple pre-snaps disguises to bait Feeley -- if he's in over Donovan McNabb -- into a critical turnover.

Eagles' Game Plan

Complement the pressure with bump coverage. The Eagles successfully disrupted the timing of the Patriots' passing game by using a variety of blitzes complemented by bump-man coverage. And the tactic should work against Seahawks' pass-happy attack. By complementing the blitz with press-man on the outside, the Eagles will disrupt the timing of Seattle's game and get hits on Hasselbeck in the pocket.

Stretch the field. The Eagles threw the ball down the field against the Patriots and it opened up the rest of their offense. Against the Seahawks' high-pressure defense, look for Feeley to take more vertical shots to Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis to open the field for Brian Westbrook underneath.

Chargers' Game Plan

Stick with L.T. The Chargers successfully pounded the Chiefs with LaDainian Tomlinson during the first half of their last meeting, but inexplicably ignored Tomlinson in the second half. Expect Norv Turner to show more patience with the running game during the rematch as Tomlinson touches the ball at least 30 times to anchor the Chargers' offense.

Bottle up the running game. Kolby Smith's surprising 150-yard rushing performance against the Raiders gave the Chiefs enough balance to minimize Brodie Croyle's exposure to pass rush. But the Chargers will make a concerted effort to stop the run with zone dogs or eight-man fronts to force Croyle to throw against the San Diego's fierce pass rush.

Chiefs' Game Plan

Mix it up. Kansas City's offense is at its best when the running game sets up the pass. And the unexpected production of Smith should allow the Chiefs to keep it balanced against the Chargers. If the Chiefs can get enough from Smith to keep the Chargers honest, they should be able to get the ball to Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez off play-action.

Blitz Philip Rivers up the middle. Despite Rivers' impressive performance against the Ravens, the Chiefs should test Rivers courage and toughness by bringing pressure right up the gut. By putting the pressure in Rivers' face, the Chiefs may be able to rattle him in the pocket on the way to a high-turnover performance.

Jets' Game Plan

Control the tempo. The Jets will attempt to establish rhythm on offense by giving the ball the Thomas Jones on a series of off-tackle and perimeter runs. If the Jets can get the running game going early, they can dictate the tempo of the game and keep the Dolphins from using their exotic zone blitzes against Kellen Clemens.

Bluff and Drop. With John Beck making only his third career start, the Jets will take advantage of his inexperience by showing multiple looks prior to the snap. Expect New York to continue to use their "scramble" look (all 11 Jets' defenders standing and moving around prior to the snap before dropping into coverage) to bait Beck into hurried throws.

Dolphins' Game Plan

Work over the middle of the field. Cam Cameron's offense utilizes deep routes off play-action to take advantage of aggressive linebacker play. With the Jets' geared up to stop the Jesse Chatman and Patrick Cobbs, expect Beck to connect with Marty Booker and Ted Ginn Jr. on deep hook routes and digs off strong play-action fakes.

Generate pressure off the edges. The Cowboys' 3-4 destroyed the Jets' pass protection by using multiple inside pressures to free up their edge rushers. Look for Dom Capers to copy some of those blitz designs to free up Jason Taylor and Joey Porter off the edges.

Broncos' Game Plan

Play long ball. The Broncos have utilized the deep ball to take their balanced offensive attack to the next level. Jay Cutler has completed five passes longer than 40 yards in the past three games and will look to exploit a Raiders' secondary that plays exclusively man-coverage.

Contain Justin Fargas. The Raiders have quietly made Justin Fargas the foundation of their offense by feeding him the ball on off-tackle runs. The Broncos must stop the perimeter running game and force the Raiders to win the game through the air. If they can keep Oakland behind the chains, Dre Bly and Champ Bailey will be able feast on Daunte Culpepper's errant throws.

Raiders' Game Plan

Get deep off double moves. The Broncos' terrific cornerback tandem (Bly and Champ Bailey) have been victimized for big plays in recent weeks due to their tendency to squat on intermediate routes. Look for the Raiders to take advantage of their gambling ways by testing the duo repeatedly with double moves.

Blitz Jay Cutler from outside. Cutler is a terrific passer on the move and Mike Shanahan takes advantage of his skills by using an assortment of movement passes (bootlegs/roll outs) to get him on the edge. Oakland must pressure off the edges to force Cutler to pull up before getting to the corner. By forcing a shorter drop, the Raiders will limit Cutler's ability to hit the deeper options.

Browns' Game Plan

Air it out. The Browns' offense will attack the Cardinals' vulnerable secondary by taking several vertical shots to Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow. By stretching the field with deep throws, the Browns will loosen up the underneath coverage and eventually create running room for Jamal Lewis.

Disrupt Kurt Warner's rhythm in pocket. Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner is still capable of picking apart defenses when given time in the pocket, so expect the Browns to send rushers from multiple angles to get Warner off his sweet spots. If Cleveland can get hits on Warner early, he will respond with hurried throws and numerous turnovers.

Cardinals' Game Plan

Eliminate the silly mistakes. The Cardinals have become a solid unit under Ken Whisenhunt, but are still plagued by foolish pre-snap penalties and mental mistakes. After losing a game to the 49ers on a serious of blunders, look for the Cardinals to respond with a sharper performance against the Browns.

Stop the run. Despite the perception Cleveland is a passing team, the Browns want to pound Lewis between the tackles to control the tempo of the game. The Cardinals must limit his effectiveness by getting consistent penetration in the middle of the line. Darnell Dockett needs to have a big game.

Bucs' Game Plan

Take deep shots out of run-heavy formations. The Bucs create big plays in the passing game by cleverly exploiting single coverage out of run-heavy formations. Look for the Bucs to use "22" personnel (two running backs, two tight ends and one receiver) to force the Saints into their jumbo defense, so they can take deep shots to Joey Galloway against single coverage.

Make Drew Brees beat two-deep coverage. The Bucs successfully slowed down the Saints' high-powered offense by using two-deep coverage to eliminate the deep throws. Look for Monte Kiffin to continue to test New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees' patience and decision making by using the soft zone extensively in the rematch.

Saints' Game Plan

Throw deep on first down. The Bucs have been using more three-deep zones on first down to create eight-man fronts against the run. But the presence of single coverage will encourage Brees to take his deep shots on first down.

Roll the zone of Galloway. The Saints will not allow the Bucs' veteran playmaker to beat them again in their second meeting. Look for the Saints to selectively roll the zone to Galloway's side to limit the veterans' big-play opportunities.

Bears' Game Plan

Pound it and throw deep. After watching the Vikings successfully execute a simple run-first game plan against the Giants, the Bears will revert to their simplistic script from a season ago. Look for Chicago to pound Adrian Peterson between the tackles to set up deep throws to Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad off play-action.

Challenge Manning with two-deep coverage. After watching Giants quarterback Eli Manning repeatedly turn the ball over against the Vikings' two-deep zone, the Bears will challenge Manning's decision making and accuracy by using the blanket coverage extensively.

Giants' Game Plan

Run the rock. The Bears' defense is surrendering more than 126 yards a game and is vulnerable to the power running game between the tackles. Look for the Giants to get back on track by pounding the ball between the tackles. If the Giants are able to control the tempo of the game by running, Manning will have a better chance of throwing effectively off play-action.

Pressure Rex Grossman. Despite playing better during his second stint as the starting QB, Grossman still shows a penchant for turning the ball over when pressured. Look for the Giants to crash Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan off the edges.

Bengals' Game Plan

Spread 'em out and attack. With the return of Chris Henry, Cincy's offense has regained its bite through the use of more three-receiver sets. Against the Steelers' aggressive zone-blitz, look for the Bengals to spread the field and take advantage of the favorable matchups in space.

Pressure Ben Roethlisberger from the right. The Bengals will copy a page from the Jets' game plan two weeks ago by pressuring Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger exclusively from the right side. By attacking Roethlisberger that way, the Bengals will force him to flee the pocket to the left, which hampers his ability to make throws on the move.

Steelers' Game Plan

Grind it out. Facing a Bengals' defense surrendering more than 120 yards a game on the ground, the Steelers will look to persistently run Willie Parker off tackle on an assortment of powers and sweeps. Parker is averaging almost four yards per carry, so expect him to get 25 carries or more against the Bengals' soft defense.

Disrupt the rhythm. The Steelers will attempt to disrupt the Bengals' free-flowing offense by keeping consistent pressure on Carson Palmer in the pocket. Look for Pittsburgh to mix up its blitzes from sub-packages (nickel or dime) to throw off the timing of Cincinnati's precision passing game.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.