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Defensive Coverage Breakdown for Every Conference Championship Team

Coverage analysis has been the biggest beneficiary towards how I find the best plays in DFS and props to take. Many defensive coordinators have a specific scheme they will utilize no matter their opponent, and others will take note of the opponents' strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Rams ran zone coverage at over a 75% rate this season, and it did not matter if they were playing Josh Allen or Marcus Mariota, they were going to be in zone coverage. Coverage numbers can swing depending on the game script, and if a team is losing early on, they will likely get into more Cover 1 style of play to defend the run better. 

Every coverage has its counter, and it’s up to the play-caller and QB to identify what’s about to be played and how to exploit that coverage. This article gives you a full breakdown of how these coverages work and what works against them.

All of the Data is provided by Sports Info Solutions, and the percentages are proportionally taken to be out of 100%. The coverage is from the full season, and I will mention the usage we have seen in the playoffs.

49ers vs. Eagles

Team Man YPA TD Rate Zone YPA TD Rate
49ers 23.5% 7.8 5.2% 76.5% 7.2 2.3%
Eagles 34.5% 6.6 5.7% 65.5% 7.0 2.3%


  • All season the 49ers have been a zone coverage team. Against the Cowboys, they ran man coverage on just one dropback, and I do not anticipate that changing in this matchup with the Eagles.
  • On the year, Jalen Hurts ranked seventh in yards per attempt against zone coverage and was tied for 14th in passing touchdowns.
  • A.J. Brown leads the team in targets, yards, and touchdowns against zone coverage. Brown has a 28.2% target share and averages 2.67 yards per route run against this coverage.
  • DeVonta Smith is second on the team in targets and yards against zone coverage. Smith only averages 1.80 yards per route run against this coverage.
  • Dallas Goedert missed some time this season but is third on the team in targets and yards against zone coverage. Goedert averages 2.09 yards per route run against this coverage.
  • Quez Watkins is second on the team in touchdowns and averages 20.3 yards per reception against zone coverage.
  • The 49ers utilized Cover 4 at over a 50% rate against the Dolphins and Seahawks, two teams with two top-end wide receivers.
  • Against Cover 4, Smith is the leader in receptions and yards.
  • Both Smith and Goedert average more yards per route than Brown.
  • When going against Cover 3, the Eagles have a different story. Smith averages 1.76 yards per route run, Brown averages 3.32 yards per route run, and Goedert averages 2.72 yards per route run.
  • Against Cover 2, the Eagles don’t have many snaps against it, but Brown and Goedert are the much more efficient players against it.
  • On the season, 13 players have had over 90 yards receiving against the 49ers, and they have been able to do it from the slot or out wide.
  • The 49ers utilize three safeties in their nickel set, so their “slot corner” is a safety.
  • Watkins is the primary slot player in three wide receiver sets for the Eagles.
  • The Eagles' defense vs. the 49ers’ offense will be a star-studded matchup.
  • Their only comparable matchup would be the Week 16 game against Dallas, and they played every single coverage in that game. I’d expect that against Brock Purdy.
  • The main coverage I anticipate this Eagles' defense running will be Cover 1 until they get a bigger lead, and I expect multiple blitz packages to be thrown Purdy’s way.
  • Purdy has a 52.1% completion rate against Cover 1 this year.
  • Against Cover 1, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle are the two players averaging over two yards per route run with Purdy.
  • Aiyuk on James Bradberry is a matchup I expect the 49ers to attack, and the film room will show that deep plays are available to his side, and the safeties aren’t giving him much help.
  • George Kittle will be a problem to deal with because the linebackers of the Eagles aren’t capable of covering him, and the run game will get an advantage if you put a corner on him.
  • Deebo Samuel is a player that can be schemed up to perform, but this Eagles’ defense is very disciplined and tackles well.
  • Samuel, Kittle, and Aiyuk are averaging over two yards per route against zone coverage with Purdy at quarterback.
  • Only three players have over 100 yards receiving against this Eagles' pass defense, and two had to face this team twice.


Bengals vs. Chiefs

Team Man YPA TD Rate Zone YPA TD Rate
Bengals 34.6% 7.1 3.8% 65.4% 7.2 1.3%
Chiefs 37.6% 6.8 8.9% 62.4% 7.1 1.5%


  • Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has been an unbelievable play-caller this year. With Patrick Mahomes' high ankle sprain, I expect man coverage and exotic blitzes against him.
  • In last year's AFC Championship Game, Anarumo switched to rushing three players and playing eight in a zone coverage scheme against Mahomes because of Tyreek Hill.
  • This season, the Bengals played man coverage at a 52.9% rate, with 11.8% of that being Cover 0.
  • Travis Kelce is Kansas City's best player against man coverage; he has a 29.7% target share and averages 2.55 yards per route.
  • Outside of him, their two primary wide receivers, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, do not average over 1.75 yards per route against man coverage.
  • Kadraius Toney has the second-highest target per route run rate but only averages 1.36 yards per route.
  • The only players averaging over two yards per route outside of Kelce are Skyy Moore and Mecole Hardman.
  • Hardman was inactive this weekend but could suit up this week.
  • Valdes-Scantling made two big catches against the man coverage of the Bengals in the first matchup, for over 70 yards receiving.
  • If Mahomes can’t move around in the pocket, somebody in this wide receiver group outside of Kelce has to find a way to win in man coverage.
  • Steve Spagnuolo recognized that he didn’t have the corners to defend this group and utilized Cover 2 or Cover 2 Man at a 48% rate against the Bengals. I anticipate that being the gameplan in this matchup.
  • Joe Burrow saw the most Cover 2 or Cover 2 Man of any QB in the entire NFL.
  • Burrow completed 74.7% of his passes against this coverage, and slow, methodical drives are what you want against Mahomes.
  • The Bengals' trio at wide receiver has almost identical numbers against these two coverages.
  • Tee Higgins leads this group at 1.76 yards per route, Tyler Boyd is next at 1.61, and Ja’Marr Chase is at 1.28.
  • These coverages will prevent big plays, and it’ll be up to Joe Mixon to get them out of that coverage.
  • If Mixon runs the ball well, they will need to drop a safety, and against Cover 1 or Cover 3, the Bengals can take the deep shots.
  • Against Cover 1, Chase averages 3.93 yards per route run.
  • Against Cover 3, Higgins averages 2.67 yards per route run.
  • When the Chiefs didn’t give a two-high look, they used Cover 1 at a 22.2% rate and Cover 3 at a 14.8% rate.

Projected Top Pass-Catchers

49ers: Brandon Aiyuk
Eagles: A.J. Brown
Bengals: Tee Higgins
Chiefs: Travis Kelce

WATCH: Best Bengals Pass-Catcher To Target vs. Chiefs in DFS