Jan 20, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (75) lines up against the Baltimore Ravens in the first quarter of the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Dec. 2, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets center Nick Mangold (74) on the bench against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Jets won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
If you are as nuts about football as I am, sometimes you look at matchups that don’t show up in the boxscore when you watch a game. For example, we watch the footwork of Darrelle Revis as he works down the field against a top wide receiver. You might watch how Ray Lewis is getting picked up, or not, when he blitzes.
One of the best matchups to watch during the season is one we get to see twice per year. It’s the matchup of Nick Mangold vs. Vince Wilfork in the middle of the line when the Jets play the Patriots. It has been a key matchup, especially the last few years with the Jets so committed to running the football. Let’s take a look at how the matchup played out this year, starting with their week 7 game in Foxboro:
Overall, Nick was the winner with a rating of 3.2 to Wilfork’s -4.2. Wilfork wasn’t a big factor, not getting to the quarterback for even a hurry. Wilfork actually put up negative ratings in run defense (-2.6) and pass rush (-1.9), while Mangold had a run block grade of 1.6, and pass block of 1.3.
Advantage Mangold. Now, what about the Thanksgiving day freak show in NY?
Wilfork posted a 1.0 overall grade, while Mangold posted his second negative of the year with a -0.8. I guess initiating butt-fumbles will do that to you. Nick posted a -1.0 in run blocking, and zero ratings in all other categories, which is quite the bad day for him. Wilfork, on the other hand, defended well against the run with a 2.1 grade, and only a -0.3 in the pass rush.
And these results translated onto the field as well, as the day Mangold was ahead, the game was close. The first matchup went to overtime in case anyone forgot. The second one, when Wilfork took the day, on the other hand….well we know what happened that day.
I just find it interesting to take a look at some of these inner matchups, and how they affect the outcome of games. Especially a matchup that has two of the best at what they do going up against each other.