Ravens DC Wink Martindale
Head coaching buzz for the third-year defensive coordinator has only grown after Martindale’s defense limited All-Pro RB Derrick Henry to his season-low 40 yards rushing. Wink continued to be blitz heavy with LB Patrick Queen on third downs, forcing a lot of early throws from QB Ryan Tannehill.
Bills OC Brian Daboll
Daboll and his staff have unlocked a different animal in Josh Allen this year. The new offense that includes an All-Pro in Stefon Diggs has continuously taken advantage of defenses by using Allen’s big arm and mobility to the team’s advantage. Daboll’s crew finished as the 2nd best scoring offense in the league this year.
The Ravens were successful in stopping the difficult Titans’ rushing attack, but now Wink Martindale faces the duo of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs. They linked up for a league-best 1,535 yards this season. Martindale had to face a true number one wide receiver in A.J. Brown last week, who got the best of Marlon Humphrey early in the game with 3 receptions for 52 yards on the Titans’ second drive of the game. Brown and Diggs are different, however. Brown is a big physical receiver that needs barely any space to make a catch, whereas Diggs is a clean route runner with good speed and great hands. It’ll be really interesting to see how Martindale covers Diggs, who has a tendency to make game-changing catches almost every week.
In the second half of the Titans game, Martindale started shifting either DeShon Elliott or Chuck Clark over towards Brown’s side on a lot of plays. He will likely continue some kind of double-teaming on Diggs, meaning Daboll will have to turn to Cole Beasley and Dawson Knox to make plays.
Daboll surprised people last week by calling a bunch of designed runs for Allen. That trend will most likely not continue, seeing as Martindale faces Lamar Jackson in practice every week, but many of Allen’s runs were successful. If the Ravens start dropping further back because of all the pass plays they’ll be facing, Allen could be running the football in this game as well.
Ravens OC Greg Roman
The tale of Greg Roman’s good play calling in the Wild Card round last week was the adjustments he made and the players he utilized. Roman was getting the ball to Pat Ricard and Marquise Brown, both being defended weakly by the Titans’ secondary. He didn’t panic when the run game started slow, and instead, found holes in the Titans' defense and used his playmakers effectively.
Bills DC Leslie Frazier
Much of Leslie Frazier’s defensive success this year has come from his ability to utilize his best players and their strengths. Last week’s game against the Colts featured a lot of single-high safety zone that relied on the speed and athleticism that this Bills roster is full of. However, Lazier had real issues defending big plays, allowing three runs and five passes of 20-plus yards against Indianapolis.
The Bills faced an offense in the Colts that’s similar to Greg Roman’s in many ways. Both teams are run-first offenses with quarterbacks that are weaker throwing outside the numbers. However, the Ravens’ run game is a completely different beast from Indianapolis. Roman’s ability to stretch the run game to the outside and implementation of pre-snap motion has forced defenders to sit on their heels and react to what they’re seeing, instead crashing the line of scrimmage as soon as the ball is snapped. The Colts started to work the outside on their run plays as well and Frazier’s defense struggled to contain it. The Bills have the second-worst run defense out of the remaining playoff teams, but their linebackers held Lamar to only 40 yards rushing last season.
This battle between coordinators will most likely come down to the passing game. The Bills were often leaving the flats open for the Colts last week, which was a weakness in Tennessee’s defense that Roman exploited heavily. Frazier will also likely have issues with Mark Andrews who can efficiently find holes deep in zones, especially in the middle of the field where many of the Colts’ big plays were made.