NFL Playoffs 2013: Schematic Trends to Watch on Wild Card Weekend

Jeremy FuchsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 2, 2013

Robert Griffin III handing off to Alfred Morris.
Robert Griffin III handing off to Alfred Morris.Rob Carr/Getty Images

New and emerging football schematic concepts were the rage in the 2012, and it will be no different on Wild Card Weekend. There has been a plethora of new concepts this season and playoff teams have used them to gain a tactical edge.

Which schematic trends should you watch for on Wild Card Weekend? Read below to find out. 



Pistol Offense

The pistol offense has long been used in college, but it's started to make its way into the NFL.

The pistol offense is simple: The running back stands behind the quarterback in a shotgun formation, as opposed to standing by his side. This allows the offense to combine spread conceptions—such as quarterback runs, screens, options and play action—with a traditional running game.

The Washington Redskins are outstanding at this. It has paved way for the league's best rushing attack and two rushers—Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III—to rush for a combined 2,428 yards.

The pistol is successful because it allows for so many plays to branch off of it. The Redskins use a lot of zone-read concepts, where Griffin has the option of handing the ball off to the running back to run inside or to keep it himself and run around the edge. This creates confusion on the defensive side and allows the Skins to rack up big numbers.

The San Francisco 49ers also use the pistol now that Colin Kaepernick is installed at quarterback. Kaepernick, who played under Chris Ault—the inventor of the pistol—in college at Nevada, is ideal for the formation. He has a strong arm and can use the play-fake to perfection.

This formation will be prominent in Wild Card Weekend as both the Redskins and 49ers use it prominently. Defenses will try to do whatever they can to prevent it, but based on the success of these two teams that effort may be for naught. 



Bring the House

The Houston Texans love to blitz. And they're good at it too. As Tom Brady noted:

They can rush the quarterback, they do a great job stopping the run. They're taking the ball away; they get a lot of balls batted down at the line of scrimmage—interceptions, fumbles.

The Texans rush the quarterback a league-high 43 percent of the time, according to ESPN. 

It helps that they have J.J. Watt, who has quickly blossomed into one of the best players in football. Brady was equally effusive in his praise of Watt:

His agility, quickness, length, his instinctiveness in getting his hands up in the air and getting ready to jump and bat balls down—he's a great player for that defense. They really rely on him.

The Bengals will have to find a way to stop Watt, or it will be a long day.

The 49ers also love to bring the heat and use Aldon Smith to perfection. Smith, who finished with 19.5 sacks, rushes the passer from a variety of formations. The Niners use stunts, spins, delays, anything and everything to get an edge.

Pressure is becoming in vogue around the league, but the Texans and 49ers do it best. Look for the teams to use it a lot on Wild Card Weekend. 




The no-huddle is all the rage in the NFL, and it looks like it's hear to stay. 14.6 percent of snaps have taken place during a no-huddle, which is up from 9.3 percent last season.

While the New England Patriots use it extensively, they will not be playing on Wild Card Weekend. However, the Baltimore Ravens do use it to their advantage. While they don't use it on every play, look for the team to break it out a bunch of times against the Colts.