After breaking down film, Scouts Inc. runs down what jumped out at us, including Arizona's blitz package, Matt Cassel's happy feet and Earnest Graham at FB.
" Arizona's defense really frustrated Dallas' offense with a very effective blitz package, and the Cardinals hit QB Tony Romo a lot. The Cardinals usually use a four-man front, but they went to a 3-4 look with an extra linebacker. This helped them be more athletic and faster with their pressure. A usually good Dallas offensive line looked slow and sluggish because of the athleticism of the Cardinals' pass rush.
" Chargers NT Jamal Williams eats up everything inside, despite being double-teamed a lot. He is also an excellent goal-line defender and he frees up his linebackers to make the play.
" Denver's offense was very predictable because of all the injuries. WR Brandon Marshall was the only viable option in the passing game, so Jacksonville used bracket coverage with a corner covering tight and safety help over the top.
" The Patriots' cornerbacks are playing so badly right now that it is hard for New England to put a safety in the box. These corners cannot be left one-on-one versus good receivers.
" Redskins RB Clinton Portis is a one-cut-and-go runner that loves to start right and cut back left against the grain.
" The Cowboys' receivers did a mediocre job of getting off the jam and getting separation versus the Cardinals' aggressive coverage schemes.
" The Chargers mixed up a lot of blitzes, and they really took advantage of QB Matt Cassel's inability to read his progressions. He looks at one receiver and then gets nervous feet. Plus, approximately three out of four his passes are 10 yards or less.
" Vikings DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams are playing so well, offensive lines are being forced to slide their protections inside. This leaves DEs Jared Allen and Ray Edwards in single blocking situations versus the offensive tackles outside, which is an advantage for the Vikings.
" The Colts exposed the Ravens' secondary by utilizing slot receiver Anthony Gonzalez on a lot of short routes inside. This forced a safety to stay in the middle of the field rather than help out the corners on the perimeter. Neither Gonzalez or TE Dallas Clark can be covered by a linebacker, so they kept the safeties busy. This allowed WRs Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne to get some good one-on-one matchups.
" The Packers are using some empty sets in their spread pass offense, which gives QB Aaron Rodgers a lot of one-on-one matchups. He gets the ball out quickly to avoid hits, but defensive backs also know that the ball is coming out quickly, so they simply sit on routes and are in a position to make a play on the ball.
" Offenses are attacking the Broncos' defense in the deep middle of the field, especially versus the safeties, who are better in run support than in coverage. Tight ends or backs over the middle and WR slant routes can be very successful.
" Chicago showed a lot of inside blitzes last week to rattle Atlanta QB Matt Ryan, but it didn't work. Ryan attacked the zone in the short middle of the field vacated by the inside linebackers.
" The Chargers used a lot of interior blitzes versus the Patriots. They brought the inside linebackers and forced the Pats to adjust their inside protections, which later opened up the edge for the outside pass rush.
" When Cassel feels pressure -- especially up the middle -- he tends to tuck the ball and run instead of moving around the pocket and buying time for his receivers to get open.
" The Jets are playing a lot of zone coverages behind a fairly aggressive zone-blitz package. They do a nice job of hiding their blitzes until the last second, and they can really confuse quarterbacks.
" The Chargers played combo coverage versus WR Randy Moss with tight coverage by a corner and safety help over the top.
" Denver continues to play without great gap integrity on defense. The Broncos have good range, but they still overrun plays and are very vulnerable to the backside cut or misdirection play where the offensive line can seal off the backside.
" The Saints stayed true to the run game. They ran the ball 33 times, and half of their first 30 plays were runs. With Deuce McAllister working between the tackles, defenses may have to bring a safety in the box, and that sets up great outside matchups. Also, the play-action game flourishes off the run game.
" The Giants move DE Justin Tuck all over to get the matchups they want. He might be the most versatile defensive lineman in the NFL.
Gary Horton, a pro scout for Scouts Inc., has been a football talent evaluator for more than 30 years. He spent 10 years in the NFL and 10 years at the college level before launching a private scouting firm, The War Room.