Bucky Brooks
Thursday December 13th, 2007

MORE GAME PLANS: Seahawks-Panthers | Bengals-49ers | Ravens-Dolphins | Cardinals-Saints | Packers-Rams | Jaguars-Steelers | Bills-Browns | Titans-Chiefs | Falcons-Bucs | Colts-Raiders | Lions-Chargers | Cowboys-Eagles | Redskins-Giants

Jets' Game Plan

Mix it up. The Jets lack the strength to overpower the Patriots with their mouth running game, but Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are capable of doing damage between the tackles on sprint draws and delays. Look for the Jets to pass early to set up their deceptive running game late.

Stay deep. Tom Brady is masterful at manipulating the safeties with his eyes and play-fakes to create deep-ball opportunities. The Jets must stay disciplined in coverage and force Brady to settle for short throws underneath. Look for Kerry Rhodes to spend less time near the line of scrimmage as the Jets commit both safeties to half-field coverage.

Patriots' Game Plan

Spread 'em out. The Patriots' offensive juggernaut is terrorizing opponents out of spread formations. And the Jets' inability to generate consistent pressure will make it easier for Brady to attack out of the four-receiver set. Expect big games from the Patriots' receivers as Brady puts the ball in the air 40 or more times.

Daze and confuse. Despite Kellen Clemens's few shining moments, his tenure as the Jets' starting quarterback has been plagued by inconsistency. Look for the Patriots to keep the Jets' young signal caller confused in the pocket by constantly disguising their pressures prior to the snap.

Seahawks' Game Plan

Throw early and often. Since adopting a pass-happy approach, the Seahawks have reeled off five-consecutive wins and averaged 29.8 points per game. Facing a Panthers' defense that ranks last in the league in sacks (16), expect Matt Hasselbeck to throw early and often.

Blitz from multiple spots. The Seahawks' defense has used a high-pressure approach to tally 41 sacks. With the Panthers struggling to score points or protect the passer, expect Seattle defensive coordinator John Marshall to use an assortment of exotic pressures to free up Patrick Kerney and Julian Peterson off the edges.

Panthers' Game Plan

Wear 'em down. Carolina will attempt to slow down the Seahawks' fierce pass rush by relying on the running game. If DeAngelo Williams and DeShaun Foster are able to grind out tough yardage early, the Panthers will be able to control the tempo and wear down the Seahawks' undersized front seven in the second half.

Jam and disrupt. The Panthers must disrupt the timing of the Seahawks' quick-rhythm passing game to have any chance of making the game a winnable low-scoring affair. Look for the Panthers to roll up their corners in two-deep zone and challenge the Seahawks' receivers near the line of scrimmage.

Bengals' Game Plan

Go for the knockout. The 49ers' inability to score on offense forces their defense to take more chances as they play for turnovers. Look for the Bengals to exploit that aggressiveness by looking for quick strikes early in the game. Expect Carson Palmer to take repeated deep shots to Chad Johnson and Chris Henry against San Francisco's blitz.

Pressure, Pressure, Pressure. The 49ers' inept offense has wilted under pressure all season, so expect Chuck Bresnahan to bring heat early and often. Look for the Bengals to bring a variety of five- and six-man pressure to keep Shaun Hill on the run.

49ers' Game Plan

Keep it simple. Shaun Hill's insertion into the lineup will force the 49ers to simplify their game plan to protect the inexperienced passer. Look for the 49ers to run Frank Gore often to set up easy play-action passes to Vernon Davis and Darrell Jackson.

Slow 'em down. The Bengals' offense has the ability to put up points in bunches due to their outstanding talent at receiver (T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chad Johnson and Chris Henry). But the 49ers will attempt to keep the scoring down by playing more conservatively in the back end. Look for the 49ers to use an assortment of soft zones to limit the Bengals' big-play opportunities.

Ravens' Game Plan

Hammer away. After their disappointing performance against the Colts, the Ravens will look to get back on track by plugging away at the Dolphins' hapless defense. Expect Baltimore running back Willis McGahee to get 20-25 attempts.

Turn up the heat. The Ravens' fifth-ranked defense will relentlessly attack the Dolphins' offense with an assortment of blitzes to keep constant pressure on Cleo Lemon in the pocket. Lemon and former starter, John Beck, have combined for eight turnovers in the past two games, so look for Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to bring the heat on all downs to generate negative plays.

Dolphins' Game Plan

Throw deep. Despite ranking in the top 10 defensively, the Ravens have surrendered more completions longer than 40 yards (13) than any other team in the league. The Dolphins must capitalize on the suddenly vulnerable secondary by taking repeated deep shots to Ted Ginn Jr. and Derek Hagan off double moves.

Pressure Boller into mistakes. Baltimore quarterback Kyle Boller is coming off a poor performance against the Colts and still displays the questionable decision-making that plagued him in the past. Look for Dolphins defensive coordinator Dom Capers to attack Boller with a variety of exotic blitzes from all angles to challenge his decision-making under pressure.

Cardinals' Game Plan

Back to basics. Despite Kurt Warner's solid season, the Cards are a more effective team when they use a balanced-offensive approach. With the Saints rush defense allowing more than four yards a carry, look for Ken Whisenhunt to call Edgerrin James' number more often.

Limit the big plays. New Orleans' pass-happy attack utilizes the vertical game to generate big plays. But opponents have had success when they force Saints quarterback Drew Brees to settle for underneath throws. Look for the Cards to use more two-deep coverage to take away the deep ball.

Saints' Game Plan

Air it out. With Reggie Bush joining Deuce McAllister on the sidelines, the strength of the Saints' offense becomes Brees and his talented quartet of receivers (Marques Colston, David Patten, Lance Moore and Devery Henderson). Expect the Saints to test a vulnerable Cards' secondary.

Use more blitzes. Warner's skittish performance against the Seahawks' blitz-heavy scheme will lead New Orleans coordinator Garry Gibbs to adopt a more aggressive approach. Look for the Saints to use more five-man pressures to keep Warner uncomfortable in the pocket.

Packers' Game Plan

Rely more on Ryan Grant. Since stepping into the lineup in Week 8, Grant has rushed for more yards (717) than anyone in the NFL. And his emergence has given the Packers the ability to control the tempo by pounding between the tackles. With the Rams likely bringing pressure on all downs, expect Grant to get more carries to slow down St. Louis' aggressiveness and set up Brett Favre for big-play opportunities off play-action.

Focus on Steven Jackson. The Packers have had success against several of the league's top rushers by using an assortment of run blitzes and eight-man fronts to clog running lanes. With Steven Jackson seeing an increased role due to quarterback Marc Bulger's injury, expect Green Bay to use the familiar tactic to limit Jackson's effectiveness.

Rams' Game Plan

Throw early, run late. The Packers' defense will be geared up to stop Jackson, so the Rams would be wise to take advantage of the eight-man fronts by throwing on early downs. St. Louis receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce are still capable of big days and the single coverage outside will give them opportunities to make plays. If Holt and Bruce can get off to quick starts, the running lanes should open for Jackson.

Keep the pressure on. The Rams successfully pressured a similarly built offense (Seahawks) by using a variety of three-man fronts and attacking with Will Witherspoon and Brandon Chillar off the edges. And after watching the Cowboys successfully harass Favre out of their 3-4, expect St. Louis coordinator Jim Haslett to dial up more pressure out of multiple three-man looks.

Jaguars' Game Plan

Win the battle upfront. The Jags' second-ranked rushing offense will face a stiff test against a Steelers' run defense that only allows 72.6 yards a game. With Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor finding running room tight, the onus is on the offensive line to win the battle upfront. They must create a push for their dynamic duo to grind out tough yards.

Use more eight-man fronts. The Jags' fifth-ranked run defense only yields 93.1 yards a game, but Pittsburgh running back Willie Parker leads the league in rushing yards (1,217) and is averaging a league-leading 23.5 carries per game. With the Steelers emphasizing the power-running game, look for the Jags to keep Sammy Knight in the box to clog Parker's running lanes.

Steelers' Game Plan

Attack the middle of the field off play-action. With the Jags focusing on slowing down Parker, the Steelers will use more play-action passes to take advantage of the Jags' over-aggressive linebackers. Look for Ben Roethlisberger to connect with Heath Miller and Hines Ward on a variety of seam routes and digs off play-action.

Disrupt Garrard's rhythm. David Garrard's stellar season (65 percent completion rate with 13 touchdowns and one interception) is often overshadowed by Jacksonville's running game. But the Steelers understand that disrupting Garrard's rhythm is critical to slowing down the Jags' attack. Expect Dick LeBeau to bring a variety of overload pressures from the weak side to keep Garrard from finding a rhythm in the pocket.

Bills' Game Plan

Share the wealth. Inserting Trent Edwards into the lineup has transformed the Bills' offense into a multi-faceted attack because of his willingness to incorporate all of Buffalo's weapons into the game plan. With the Bills sporting a 5-1 record when he starts, expect to see the Bills continue to spread the ball around to keep the Browns' defense on its heels.

Eliminate the outside throws. The Browns have feasted on single coverage by utilizing the fade, comeback and skinny post as their primary routes. Expect the Bills to eliminate those timing routes by exclusively playing Cover Two on most downs. With "cloud" corners on the outside, the Browns will find it tougher to get the ball to Braylon Edward or Joe Jurevicius on their favored routes.

Browns' Game Plan

Lean on the running game. The Bills' scrappy defense uses two-deep coverage to eliminate big plays in the passing game. But the accompanying seven-man front makes Buffalo's defense vulnerable to the run. Look for the Browns to hammer Jamal Lewis between the tackles to take advantage of the Bills' undermanned front.

Take away the run. A big part of Edwards' surprising success has been the Bills' ability to maintain balance with the running game. With Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson grinding out tough yards, Edwards has been able to comfortably throw off play-action. Look for the Browns to eliminate Edwards' security blanket by using more eight-man fronts on early downs.

Titans' Game Plan

Grind it out. Despite Vince Young's ineffectiveness as a pocket passer, the Titans have been able to win games solely on the strength of their running game -- illustrated by their 4-1 record when they have a 100-yard rusher. Facing a Chiefs' defense that has allowed seven rushers to go over the century mark, look for Norm Chow to put the game in the hands of LenDale White and Chris Brown.

Rev it up. With the Chiefs surrendering the second most sacks in the league (48), expect Jim Schwartz to rev up the pass rush by incorporating more exotic pressures into the game plan. He used Albert Haynesworth at DE for a few snaps against the Chargers, so look for more creative wrinkles against the Chiefs' struggling offensive line.

Chiefs' Game Plan

Work on the edges. After watching the Chargers get their running game going by using more perimeter-based plays, the Chiefs will also use more edge runs to get Kolby Smith going. By running to the edges, Kansas City will avoid Haynesworth and take advantage of the Titans' undersized ends.

Use more man-free and three-deep coverage. The Chiefs will focus on stopping the Titans' fourth-ranked rushing attack by dropping Bernard Pollard or Jarrad Page into the box. Though the eight-man front will leave Ty Law and Patrick Surtain alone in coverage, the Chiefs will take that gamble since the Titans' Vince Young struggles as a pocket passer.

Falcons' Game Plan

Start from scratch. Bobby Petrino's sudden resignation leaves the Falcons without their play caller. The new offensive leader, Hue Jackson, will likely increase Jerrious Norwood's role in the game plan. Norwood is averaging seven yards a touch and has produced nine plays over 20 yards. With the Falcons' offense sagging, look for the Jackson to tap into Norwood's big-play potential.

Shadow Joey Galloway. The Bucs' 36-year old playmaker has been on the receiving end of eight passing plays over 40 yards. Expect Falcons coordinator Mike Zimmer to minimize Galloway's impact by using DeAngelo Hall as a shadow. If Hall can bottle up Galloway, the Falcons will be able to commit eight or nine defenders to the running game.

Bucs' Game Plan

Win with four. The Bucs rarely blitz, but still manage to generate consistent pressure off the corners due to the quickness of the edge rushers (Gaines Adams and Greg White). Look for the duo to have a big day against the Falcons' pair of undrafted tackles (Tyson Clabo and Quinn Ojinnaka).

Feed Earnest Graham. The Bucs have found that pounding Graham persistently between the tackles is part of a winning strategy, as evidenced by their 5-1 record when Graham carries over 17 times. Facing a Falcons' defense that has struggled stopping the run, look for Jon Gruden to give Graham plenty of carries on tough, inside runs.

Colts' Game Plan

Use more double moves and switch routes. The Colts will get the rare opportunity to work against man coverage when facing the Raiders, so expect Peyton Manning to be more aggressive throwing the ball downfield. Look for the Indy QB to target Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez off double moves against Fabian Washington and Stanford Routt.

Eight is enough. The Colts' second-ranked defense allows less than four yards a carry, but it will be tested by Justin Fargas and the Raiders' fifth-ranked rushing attack. Expect Bob Sanders to play the role of a quasi-linebacker as the Colts use more eight-man fronts to slow down the Raiders' running game.

Raiders' Game Plan

Throw more on first down. The Colts show a strong tendency of lining up in eight-man fronts against strong running teams on first down. But the accompanying man-free or three-deep coverage will give Josh McCown opportunities to connect on short and intermediate routes outside. Look for the Raiders to take the easy completions to help the offense get off to a quicker start.

Use more combination coverage. The Raiders want to challenge the Colts' receivers by pressing them at the line, but the high risk approach will leave them vulnerable to big plays. Expect Rob Ryan to protect his corners by using linebackers as underneath cutters while keeping Michael Huff or Stuart Schweigert as a deep middle player.

Lions' Game Plan

Feature more draws and screens. The Chargers have turned their season around on defense by becoming more aggressive with their pressure packages. But the reliance on the blitz will create some big-play opportunities for the Lions on draws and screens. Look for Detroit offensive coordinator Mike Martz to slow the Chargers' aggressiveness by using deceptive plays.

Make Philip Rivers win it. Despite leading the Chargers on a three-game winning streak, Rivers is coming off consecutive sub-par performances (50-percent completion percentage with three interceptions and seven sacks allowed). Expect Lions coordinator Joe Barry to capitalize on Rivers' struggles by using more blitzes and five-man pressures to keep him from finding his rhythm.

Chargers' Game Plan

Feed L.T. The Chargers have given LaDainian Tomlinson 23 or more carries in the each of the past three games and he has responded by averaging 133 rushing yards with three touchdowns during the Chargers' three-game winning streak.

Blitz, Blitz, Blitz. The Chargers' defense is rounding to form as Ted Cottrell is turning his linebackers loose off the edges. Even without Shawne Merriman, expect to see the Chargers pound Detroit QB Jon Kitna with an assortment of exotic five and six-man pressures.

Cowboys' Game Plan

Be aggressive against the blitz. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson's blitz-happy approach will give Dallas QB Tony Romo plenty of chances to take shots against the Eagles' single coverage. Look for Romo to target Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton on a series of blitz-beaters (slants, fades and post routes).

Mix up the zone pressures. The Eagles' protection problems have resulted in 38 sacks, including three by the Cowboys in their first meeting. Look for Dallas defensive coordinator Brian Stewart to aggressively come after Donovan McNabb with a multitude of zone pressures.

Eagles' Game Plan

Run Westbrook and Buckhalter. After watching the Lions rush for 157 yards, the Eagles will incorporate more runs into their game plan. Look for Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter to get more carries on an assortment of sprint draws and off-tackle runs to attack a suddenly vulnerable Cowboys' run defense.

Mix in some double coverage. T.O. torched Philadelphia's secondary during their first matchup, so look for Jim Johnson to make significant adjustments to limit his Owens' impact. Expect the Eagles to use more brackets and cutters (linebackers or safeties doubling from inside-out) to take away Owens over the middle of the field.

Redskins' Game Plan

Diversify the passing game. Todd Collins came off the bench last week and effectively utilized the running backs in the passing game to move the football against the Bears. And he will likely take that same approach against the Giants' fierce pass rush. By quickly getting the ball to Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts on screens, swings and check downs, the Redskins can keep the Giants from consistently generating pressure.

Stop the run. The Giants effectively set up their vertical passing game by pounding the ball between the tackles with Brandon Jacobs. The Redskins must stop Jacobs early to force Eli Manning to carry the offense through the air. Manning has shown a penchant for turning the ball over in critical situations, so forcing him to throw 30 or more times will likely result in turnovers.

N.Y. Giants

Work on the corners. With Washington's Fred Smoot and Shawn Springs ailing from injuries, the Giants will be inclined to take more chances in the passing game. Look for New York offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to incorporate a few double moves into the game plan to take advantage of the Redskins' injured duo or their replacements.

Attack Todd Collins from multiple looks. Despite Collins' solid showing against the Bears, the Giants will exploit his inexperience as a full-time starter (only 16 career starts in 13 seasons). Look for Steve Spagnuolo to break out several exotic pressures to cause Collins to hesitate with his reads. By confusing Collins with multiple pre-snap looks and disguises, the Giants will buy time for Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan to crash off the edges.

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