The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers will face off for the ninth time in the history of their playoff matchups. While this is not a NFC Championship Game as others have been, it still carries a great deal of intriguing matchups. One of these is the duo of Deebo Samuel and Davante Adams. Both wide receivers were named All-Pro’s this season. While neither will be tasked with guarding the other, it is still intriguing to wonder how the two will compete. It is rare to see two All-Pro wideouts go at it in the playoffs, so this will be a special treat for anyone who enjoys football. Here, we will take a look at their 2021 seasons and make predictions for their performances in the Divisional Round.
Deebo Samuel in 2021
Deebo Samuel had a simply incredible season in 2021, his third in the NFL. In 2019 and 2020 combined, Samuel had 90 receptions for 1,193 yards, and four touchdowns in 22 games played. In 2021 alone, he had 77 receptions for 1,405 and six touchdowns in 16 games. Samuel also led the NFL in yards per receptions with 18.2. Additionally, Deebo Samuel rushed the ball 59 times for 365 yards and eight more touchdowns. In all, Samuel had 1,770 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns. If that were not enough, In Week 17, Samuel also threw a 24-yard touchdown pass!
The advanced receiving stats tell another great story of Deebo Samuel’s season, but also point out some weaknesses. Samuel proved to be a reliable target in 2021, with 49ers quarterbacks having a 106.0 passer rating when targeting him. Additionally, over half of his receiving yards came after the catch (768 yards after the catch in 2021). However, Samuel also had 10 drops for a drop percentage of 8.3%. Additionally, he fumbled the ball four times.
Davante Adams in 2021
Davante Adams had one of the best seasons for a wide receiver in Green Bay Packers history in 2021. Perhaps what is most amazing about this statement is that the same was said about his 2020 season. In 2021, Davante Adams had 123 receptions for 1,553 yards and 11 touchdowns. His 123 receptions and 1,553 yards were the most in Packers history. While some fans were bemoaning the fact that Adams achieved these numbers in a 17-game season, it should be noted that Adams played in 16 games. He missed the Arizona Cardinals game due to an injury.
The advanced receiving stats are equally as kind to Davante Adams as the typical stats. Adams did not fumble once this past season and dropped only three passes. His 1.8% drop percentage was the second-lowest of his career, trailing his 2020 season’s 0.7%. Packers’ quarterbacks had a 115.3 passer rating when targeting Adams. Contrast to Samuel, most of Adams’ receiving yards came from yards gained before the catch. In other words, Adams had 592 yards after the catch in 2021. Adams broke just five tackles in 2021, compared to 13 by Deebo Samuel.
Which Wide Receiver Will Have the Better Game in the Divisional Round?
Admittedly, as a Packers fan, my obvious prediction is that Davante Adams will have a better game in the Divisional Round than Deebo Samuel. However, this is not just regional bias talking. There are two very key stats that support this prediction.
The San Francisco 49ers Struggle Covering Opponents’ Top Receivers
The San Francisco 49ers have struggled all season when it came to covering their opponents’ best receivers. In fact, they were the second worst team in the NFL when it came to trying stop other team’s top receivers.
As Peter Bukowski pointed out in the above Tweet, Davante Adams had 12 receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers in Week Three. In Week One, the 49ers gave up eight receptions, 97 yards, and a touchdown to TJ Hockenson of the Detroit Lions. Cooper Kupp had 11 receptions for 122 yards in the Los Angeles Rams’ first game against the 49ers this season. He had seven receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown in their second matchup.
In other words, Davante Adams is going to have plenty of opportunities on Saturday Night. In fact, in four games against the 49ers in his career, Adams has faired quite well.
The Coverage Stats for Rasul Douglas, Eric Stokes, and Jaire Alexander
Jaire Alexander, the Packers best cornerback, is close to making his return to the field after being limited to four games in 2021 with a shoulder injury. If he can return, he will join Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes, who themselves had stellar seasons in coverage this season. Of course, the fun number to look at is the five interceptions Douglas was able to nab in just 12 games. However, check out these advanced coverage stats from Douglas and Stokes (remember, Eric Stokes was a rookie this season):
- Rasul Douglas- 50% completion percentage allowed; 44.5 passer rating when targeted.
- Eric Stokes- 49.5% completion percentage allowed; 71.3 passer rating when targeted.
Oh, and combined, they allowed only five touchdowns all season long.
How good are these numbers? In 2020, when Jaire Alexander was a Pro Bowl cornerback, he allowed a 51.3% completion percentage and 67.4 passer rating when targeted. If he can come back against the 49ers and be anywhere close to that kind of production, the Packers will have THREE defensive backs capable of hanging with Deebo Samuel in the passing game.
It also is worth mentioning that Jimmy Garoppolo is suffering from a shoulder and a thumb injury, which have made his status for Saturday night unclear. On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers has stated his broken toe is 100% and he is coming into the playoffs fully rested and healthy. However, even if he were not, and Garoppolo was not hurt, the quarterback advantage would still go to Davante Adams.
Oh, and remember how Adams had 12 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown in Week Three? Deebo Samuel had two rushes for zero yards and five receptions (on 10 targets) for 52 yards in the same game. Yes, much has changed for both teams since Week Three. However, all signs point to Davante Adams having the bigger game in the Divisional Round.
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