Wide Receivers vs. Cornerbacks: Week 12 Matchups

Wide Receivers vs. Cornerbacks: Week 12 Matchups

This article is part of our Corner Report series.

This article will go game by game for the Week 12 slate looking at the top wide receivers from an offense and, based on the inside/outside and left/right splits of those receivers, identify the cornerbacks most likely to face them in man coverage.

Receivers rarely see the same corner every play, be it due to formation quirks or zone coverage calls by the defense, so a receiver's fortunes depend on much more than just the quality of the corner they're likely to see the most in a given game. Even against a bad corner, a good receiver can be denied the opportunity if the pass rush or something else outside his control complicates things. But it's part of the puzzle, and it's worth keeping track of.

Receivers are left with an Upgrade, Downgrade, or Even verdict based on their projected matchup. This shouldn't be read as 'good' or 'bad' but rather a measured tweak from the receiver's baseline projection.

CAR vs DEN

CAROLINA WIDE RECEIVERS

Davante Adams got the better of Patrick Surtain in Week 11, but (A) Surtain probably still wins that half of the time and (B) no disrespect to DJ Moore but he is not Adams. Terrace Marshall should mostly see the rookie Damarri Mathis, who has struggled with penalties at times but seems like he might turn out a decent starter. Essang Bassey should be the primary slot corner if K'Waun Williams is out, but the Panthers continue to have no idea how to manage

This article will go game by game for the Week 12 slate looking at the top wide receivers from an offense and, based on the inside/outside and left/right splits of those receivers, identify the cornerbacks most likely to face them in man coverage.

Receivers rarely see the same corner every play, be it due to formation quirks or zone coverage calls by the defense, so a receiver's fortunes depend on much more than just the quality of the corner they're likely to see the most in a given game. Even against a bad corner, a good receiver can be denied the opportunity if the pass rush or something else outside his control complicates things. But it's part of the puzzle, and it's worth keeping track of.

Receivers are left with an Upgrade, Downgrade, or Even verdict based on their projected matchup. This shouldn't be read as 'good' or 'bad' but rather a measured tweak from the receiver's baseline projection.

CAR vs DEN

CAROLINA WIDE RECEIVERS

Davante Adams got the better of Patrick Surtain in Week 11, but (A) Surtain probably still wins that half of the time and (B) no disrespect to DJ Moore but he is not Adams. Terrace Marshall should mostly see the rookie Damarri Mathis, who has struggled with penalties at times but seems like he might turn out a decent starter. Essang Bassey should be the primary slot corner if K'Waun Williams is out, but the Panthers continue to have no idea how to manage the slot, where they make both Laviska Shenault and Shi Smith useless.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: DJ Moore
Even: Terrace Marshall, Shi Smith

DENVER WIDE RECEIVERS

Courtland Sutton is a candidate to see shadow coverage from Jaycee Horn, but the bigger concern for Sutton continues to be the general dysfunction of Denver's offense, which is simply not a professionally serious effort on the part of Nathaniel Hackett. Hackett presumably only hasn't been fired yet because GM George Paton is still laying his scapegoating plan and isn't quite sure how he wants to blame someone other than himself for a hire and series of catastrophic personnel decisions that he and no one else pushed the button on. Kendall Hinton might be the main slot receiver if Jerry Jeudy is out again, and there could be a favorable matchup if solid Carolina slot defender Myles Hartsfield is out again.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Courtland Sutton, Kendall Hinton

CLE vs TB

CLEVELAND WIDE RECEIVERS

Amari Cooper should face all three of the main Tampa corners, with none of them obviously more daunting than the other and all of them competent. It's hard to call it a downgrade since Cooper's own talent can stand up to tough matchups, but Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean are tough outside while Antoine Winfield has emerged as a standout slot corner this year. Donovan Peoples-Jones is no slouch but you'd sooner worry about him against corners like these than a proven standout like Cooper. David Bell could conceivably box out Winfield on a short field but he isn't getting any separation from Winfield, and Winfield is plenty prepared to play physical.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: David Bell
Even: Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones


TAMPA BAY WIDE RECEIVERS

Mike Evans might or might not see shadow coverage from Denzel Ward but it probably doesn't matter much for Evans, both because he has a massive build advantage on Ward and because the Browns scheme is poorly managed and as a near matter of policy leaves its corners in difficult situations that underplay their talents. Ward will be more intimidating once Joe Woods is replaced, but for now he's not a real concern to a player like Evans. The promising rookie Martin Emerson might actually be as tough of a matchup for Evans, if only because Emerson is a bigger corner at 6-foot-2. A.J. Green will be the slot corner if Greg Newsome (concussion) is out again, and that's a great matchup for Chris Godwin. You never really know how healthy Julio Jones might be but if he's right he can hurt this defense too.

Upgrade: Chris Godwin
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Mike Evans, Julio Jones

JAC vs BAL

JACKSONVILLE WIDE RECEIVERS

To personally editorialize quickly: anyone unfortunate enough to have heard my views over the offseason might recall that Trent Baalke was a frequent target of my irritation, and I was specifically calling for his head because he refused to add any boundary speed to the Jaguars offense, putting forth a turd offering of Marvin Jones and Zay Jones at reps that desperately need to threaten downfield and keep the defense from cluttering the underneath. Trent is a very stupid man and is probably shocked to see the results of what he has wrought, but that the Jaguars are too slow vertically and undermine their underneath offense has been the single greatest reason why they are a bad team, despite no lack of additional efforts from Trent toward that end. This matchup could bring a particularly high cost for Trent's arrogant incompetence, because while Christian Kirk is a good player, the Joneses flaws dictate that defenses can sell out against Kirk with impunity, leaving Trevor Lawrence in a desperate position that rarely turns for the better. In this case Kirk should see every-down coverage from Marlon Humphrey, a matchup Kirk just can't win most of the time. Kirk is a good player who runs from the slot, whereas Humphrey is a very good or elite corner who might even have the luxury of additional coverage help since the Joneses are simply non-factors. Kirk has a shot and Trent might go another week dimly unaware of his failures if the Ravens foolishly don't assign Humphrey to Kirk, but if they do this could be a trainwreck game for Lawrence. The Joneses have comparably easy matchups but can lose against anyone, especially Marvin.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: Christian Kirk
Even: Zay Jones, Marvin Jones

BALTIMORE WIDE RECEIVERS

Devin Duvernay (hamstring, questionable) is the best active Ravens receiver by miles but Greg Roman's aesthetic preferences lead him to value lesser players. The Jaguars defense isn't good and Lamar Jackson is great, so it might not matter much in this setting. Playing iso-ball all day with Demarcus Robinson (hip, questionable) worked last week and might even work here, but Roman is a professional loser who will tank Lamar when the playoffs arrive. Luckily for Greg and his sharpie goatee, that probably won't be here.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Devin Duvernay, Demarcus Robinson

MIA vs HOU

MIAMI WIDE RECEIVERS

Particularly with Derek Stingley out the Texans corners have no speed. Or at least, not nearly enough.

Upgrade: Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Trent Sherfield


HOUSTON WIDE RECEIVERS

Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins might or might not benefit from the switch to Kyle Allen at quarterback, but presumably things couldn't get worse. Cooks is still a very good starting wide receiver – no worse than a lower-range WR1 – yet his numbers look like anything but that in 2022. Collins is no Cooks but he offers a different skill and function set that have more to offer than he's shown so far. Between the two of them a competent quarterback should be able to stress Miami's mediocre pass defense, but until we see more from Allen there's a lot of risk that threatens to overrule what might otherwise be a favorable matchup for the route runners

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins, Chris Moore

NYJ vs CHI

JETS WIDE RECEIVERS

This should set up well for Garrett Wilson, almost no matter who he lines up against. Jaylon Johnson is a good corner but probably not one Wilson needs to worry about. Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Denzel Mims can all beat the Bears corners, too, but good luck anticipating the moment-to-moment whims of Mike LaFleur as far as any of their roles go.

Upgrade: Garrett Wilson
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A

CHICAGO WIDE RECEIVERS

Sauce Gardner would seemingly trait-match Chase Claypool a little better than the smaller, quicker Darnell Mooney, especially since Mooney tends to get the slot reps when applicable. Given the way their respective careers have gone to this point, Gardner would seem like a good bet to shut down Claypool. This is at once a generally good outcome for the Jets – Claypool might otherwise produce if Gardner doesn't stop him – but also an outcome that channels that much more of the Bears passing game toward the slot, which might be the weakest part of the otherwise strong Jets defense.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: Chase Claypool
Even: Darnell Mooney

TEN vs CIN

TENNESSEE WIDE RECEIVERS

Treylon Burks appears to be gaining more of a role by the week and in this game he could find another opportunity to produce. Cam Taylor-Britt is more toolsy than polished at this point, and Eli Apple is somehow still the same thing after years of no growth. Mike Hilton really doesn't have the build to defend Burks in the slot. Robert Woods could also do damage against a defense like this.

Upgrade: Treylon Burks, Robert Woods
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A


CINCINNATI WIDE RECEIVERS

Ja'Marr Chase (hip) would of course be a huge boost to the Cincinnati offense if he can return here, and against the Tennessee corners he would likely hold a safe advantage. It's possible, though, that Tee Higgins matches up even better. The Titans corner duo of Kristian Fulton and Roger McCreary are defined by their lack of speed and length, which it to say range. They play tough with good fundamentals and can throw softer receivers off their game, but if the ball is in the air and they need to reach Point B faster than the receiver then they're in particularly a lot of trouble against a 6-foot-4, long-armed receiver like Higgins. Tyler Boyd should see the most of McCreary in three-wide situations, when Terrance Mitchell steps in outside. Mitchell probably can't cover any of the Bengals receivers but especially not Chase or Higgins. The bigger concern than the cornerbacks is the Tennessee defensive line, where Jeffery Simmons can collapse the entire pocket on his own.

Upgrade: Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Tyler Boyd

WAS vs ATL

WASHINGTON WIDE RECEIVERS

You would think A.J. Terrell will shadow Terry McLaurin on the applicable outside reps, but (A) McLaurin should get into the slot occasionally and thus avoid Terrell double-digit times and (B) there's reason to think McLaurin can just beat Terrell. Terrell is tough and might warrant a Downgrade for some receivers – he shut down Amari Cooper earlier this year, for instance – but McLaurin is only weeks removed from dusting a similar-caliber corner in Jaire Alexander. Curtis Samuel and Jahan Dotson doubtlessly get easier matchups if Terrell is on McLaurin.

Upgrade: Curtis Samuel, Jahan Dotson
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Terry McLaurin (Upgrade if not shadowed by Terrell)

ATLANTA WIDE RECEIVERS

Although the Washington pass defense has played better in recent weeks, Drake London might be able to bully smaller corners like Bobby McCain and Kendall Fuller. Olamide Zaccheaus probably can not, though he has some amount of ability in his own right.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Drake London, Olamide Zaccheaus

ARI vs LAC

ARIZONA WIDE RECEIVERS

It's not clear where Marquise Brown (foot) will line up if he returns – he played the outside left position before DeAndre Hopkins returned from suspension, but Hopkins has been playing it since then. Brown could line up in the slot – especially this week, while Rondale Moore is out – but if Hopkins stays on the left then we might see Brown on the right in base functions. On some basis they'll split Asante Samuel and Michael Davis – perhaps with Davis on Hopkins and Samuel on Brown since Davis is much bigger. Whatever way the Chargers call it seems unlikely to work – both receivers outclass the corner in question. The Chargers might play off coverage in concession to that fact, in which case they might contain the Arizona pass game at the expense of allowing James Conner to run well.

Upgrade: DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A


CHARGERS WIDE RECEIVERS

Byron Murphy is out, depriving the Cardinals of their top corner. The Cardinals are forced to run more zones than most teams due to their lack of corner personnel. Keenan Allen sets up well here, and players like Josh Palmer and DeAndre Carter might also be real threats against a defense like this.

Upgrade: Keenan Allen
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Josh Palmer, DeAndre Carter

SEA vs LV

SEATTLE WIDE RECEIVERS

If Nate Hobbs can play then he would present a challenge to one of DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett, but probably not enough to warrant a downgrade in either case. The rest of the Raiders corners really can't cover Metcalf or Lockett, so whoever Hobbs isn't on in a given play has a green light. If Hobbs is out then consider both Metcalf and Lockett to be in an upgrade matchup.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett


LAS VEGAS WIDE RECEIVERS

Davante Adams got the better of Patrick Surtain last week, which very rarely happens. Not just that, but Adams' suddenness and precision are the exact kind of traits that stress bigger, more linear corners like Tariq Woolen and Mike Jackson. Mack Hollins, by contrast, might consider Woolen just about his worst nightmare. Keelan Cole looks toast but perhaps he has a veteran trick or two to use against the rookie Coby Bryant.

Upgrade: Davante Adams
Downgrade: Mack Hollins
Even: Keelan Cole

KC vs LAR

KANSAS CITY WIDE RECEIVERS

Injuries have left the Chiefs with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Justin Watson as their likely snap leaders at receiver. The rookie Skyy Moore made an impact in Week 11, but he only saw 24 snaps to Watson's 54 and MVS' 43. Jalen Ramsey figures to give all of these guys trouble when on the applicable snaps, but Ramsey's deployment isn't predictable and just as importantly, it's not often that he lines up against the same receiver every play. The question of who Patrick Mahomes throws to in this game has more to do with where the Rams defense as a whole leaves itself vulnerable, which may or may not be around Ramsey.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Justin Watson, Skyy Moore


RAMS WIDE RECEIVERS

Allen Robinson should mostly run against the Chiefs' (rookie) outside cornerbacks, a matchup he might or might not be able to exploit. Particularly with Bryce Perkins at quarterback, Robinson might not be able to capitalize even on easy matchups at the moment. Ben Skowronek can't capitalize no matter how many advantages he has – perhaps Sean McVay will figure that out one day.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Allen Robinson, Ben Skowronek, Van Jefferson

SF vs NO

SAN FRANCISCO WIDE RECEIVERS

Marshon Lattimore (abdomen) might return for the Saints in this one, though to what effect isn't so obvious. Brandon Aiyuk is the more traditional route runner between himself and Deebo Samuel, so Lattimore's coverage abilities might show up more against Aiyuk, but the Saints could still consider Samuel the greater general threat. Paulson Adebo, Alontae Taylor or Chris Harris would need playing time cut to make room for Lattimore, and it might be Taylor, both because he's a rookie and because Harris is maybe a better fit for the remaining slot role. Jauan Jennings is much bigger than Harris, as he is most slot corners.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings


NEW ORLEANS WIDE RECEIVERS

The 49ers moved Charvarius Ward last week to match him up against DeAndre Hopkins, and the results were less than great. Chris Olave is maybe an even tougher cover for Ward than Hopkins, and Hopkins still mostly got the better of Ward. Olave's greater concern is the San Francisco pass rush, which could very well hit Andy Dalton before Olave gets open. Jarvis Landry faces a difficult trait match in Jimmie Ward but might be a slick enough route runner to get open a few times.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Chris Olave, Jarvis Landry

PHI vs GB

PHILADELPHIA WIDE RECEIVERS

Jaire Alexander might (might) pose a concern to a player like DeVonta Smith, but not A.J. Brown. The Packers might believe big corner Rasul Douglas might counter Brown well (he would not), so they might try to get that general matchup arranged and leave Rudy Ford against Quez Watkins. Smith would dust Douglas badly and probably Ford too, so the Eagles should have someone open the majority of the time.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: A.J. Brown (arguable upgrade if shadowed by Douglas), DeVonta Smith (upgrade if shadowed by Douglas), Quez Watkins

GREEN BAY WIDE RECEIVERS

Christian Watson can box out a lot of corners when left in a jumpball situation, and though not small Darius Slay isn't quite a big corner. James Bradberry is, on the other hand, and that might make him a tougher matchup for Watson. However the Eagles split up Slay and Bradberry between Watson and Allen Lazard, the Packers wideouts might need to win by the jumpball because Slay and Bradberry just don't let receivers behind them very often -- not even fast ones like Watson. Josiah Scott might not be bad at slot corner but he's still not an intimidating matchup for Randall Cobb, and certainly not for Lazard when Lazard is in the slot.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Allen Lazard, Christian Watson, Randall Cobb

IND vs PIT

INDIANAPOLIS WIDE RECEIVERS

Michael Pittman, Alec Pierce and Parris Campbell are all in reasonably good spots here. Matt Ryan's efficiency limitations dictate that probably only one or two of the three doing anything useful, and the order of expectation is probably the same as the order listed previously. Pierce and even Pittman can run too much for the Pittsburgh moneyball boundary corners to run with, and Campbell is definitely beating them all by two tenths of a second in the 40. Much more concerning than any of the corners is the trio of Cam Heyward, T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Michael Pittman, Alec Pierce, Parris Campbell

PITTSBURGH WIDE RECEIVERS

Diontae Johnson is apparently just dust now, or perhaps Kenny Pickett just doesn't look his way as much as Ben Roethlisberger and Mitch Trubisky did. The Colts corners shouldn't be much of an obstacle to Johnson's game, but neither should have some of his other recent opponents. George Pickens has his arrow pointed up but might see the most challenging coverage he's seen in weeks, especially if the Colts put Stephon Gilmore on him. Basically, whoever gets Gilmore on them has the tough draw here.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: George Pickens, Diontae Johnson

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mario Puig
Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.
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