Wide Receivers vs. Cornerbacks: Week 7 Matchups

Wide Receivers vs. Cornerbacks: Week 7 Matchups

This article is part of our Corner Report series.

This article will go game by game for the Week 7 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. This post will have to be a little shorter and lean more on speculation/generalities than the entries to come, because teams haven't yet conclusively revealed their personnel tendencies.

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.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Detroit Lions

BALTIMORE WIDE RECEIVERS

Odell Beckham and Rashod Bateman can beat corners like Detroit's when healthy and given ample playing time, but yanking them in and out of the lineup for Nelson Agholor seems to have left everyone out of rhythm, except for Zay Flowers who is given every snap he can handle. Flowers has made his own share

This article will go game by game for the Week 7 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. This post will have to be a little shorter and lean more on speculation/generalities than the entries to come, because teams haven't yet conclusively revealed their personnel tendencies.

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.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Detroit Lions

BALTIMORE WIDE RECEIVERS

Odell Beckham and Rashod Bateman can beat corners like Detroit's when healthy and given ample playing time, but yanking them in and out of the lineup for Nelson Agholor seems to have left everyone out of rhythm, except for Zay Flowers who is given every snap he can handle. Flowers has made his own share of mistakes, but he's the only Ravens receiver who ever gets a second chance. There's probably no point in scavenging for something among the non-Flowers Ravens receivers until Todd Monken realizes the need for change. Corners like Cam Sutton, Brian Branch and Jerry Jacobs are prepared to make things difficult for Flowers underneath – it's downfield where these corners are most vulnerable, yet Flowers is only a 50-grade downfield threat, making the attack strategy forced despite being the most viable option.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Zay Flowers, Nelson Agholor, Rashod Bateman, Odell Beckham


 


 

DETROIT WIDE RECEIVERS

Marlon Humphrey might or might not follow a given Lions receiver, be it Josh Reynolds or Jameson Williams, but Reynolds doesn't classify as a significant threat and Williams is unproven at best in the Lions offense. Brandon Stephens is probably more easily beaten than Humphrey but still might be a challenge for the Lions boundary wideouts, playaction gimmes aside. Amon-Ra St. Brown versus Kyle Hamilton is an interesting experiment – there's no reason to bet against St. Brown, but in a lot of ways Hamilton is more formidable than anyone St. Brown has run against this year.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, Jameson Williams

Chicago Bears vs. Las Vegas Raiders

CHICAGO WIDE RECEIVERS

Nate Hobbs is a competent corner but he's only one the Raiders have, and they tend to keep him limited to the slot. Also, Hobbs might be out with an ankle injury. The boundary corners are weaker, meaning DJ Moore and Darnell Mooney can't be covered by them, but the Tyson Bagent factor is difficult to pin down. This is a risky spot because of the quarterback, but the corner matchup couldn't be more favorable.

Upgrade: DJ Moore, Darnell Mooney
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A


 

LAS VEGAS WIDE RECEIVERS

Who knows how much there is to go around, but Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers can't be covered by these corners. Jaylon Johnson is good but 'good' probably isn't enough for Adams or even Meyers at the moment, and rookie Tyrique Stevenson is much lower than Johnson's level. Then again, the quarterback question raises doubt that is difficult to factor correctly against the WR:CB aspect of the matchup.

Upgrade: Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A

Indianapolis Colts vs. Cleveland Browns

INDIANAPOLIS WIDE RECEIVERS

Another game with quarterback questions due to injured starters, but the Colts' bigger problem here might be the cornerback matchup. Gardner Minshew is limited but better than many or most backup quarterbacks, and in general players like Michael Pittman and Josh Downs should continue to see their customary usage. The problem is that the Browns defense looks quite good, which would make sense because they have three good corners. Denzel Ward might be a little small to grapple with Pittman but will likely deny separation. Greg Newsome can deny separation while adding a bit more physicality, while Martin Emerson is the one built to go against receivers like Pittman, though Emerson always plays the left side, meaning the Colts could put Pittman on Ward as much as they'd like.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: Josh Downs
Even: Michael Pittman


 


 

CLEVELAND WIDE RECEIVERS

With Deshaun Watson apparently quiet quitting the Browns are left with P.J. Walker, which is likely a major downgrade. The Colts boundary corners cannot at all cover Amari Cooper, however, who managed to do some damage to a much tougher 49ers defense last week. Players like Elijah Moore and Donovan Peoples-Jones are not as likely to transcend, though both can dust these boundary corners easily.

Upgrade: Amari Cooper
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Elijah Moore, Donovan Peoples-Jones

New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills

NEW ENGLAND WIDE RECEIVERS

Maybe in another year the Patriots wideouts might be able to put something together against these backup Buffalo boundary corners, but absolutely everything is going wrong with them to the point that it's probably unwise to give any benefit of the doubt. The boundary matchup specifically is not awful, just the Patriots. The slot matchup is admittedly hopeless against Taron Johnson.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Demario Douglas
Even: DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne


 


 

BUFFALO WIDE RECEIVERS

J.C. Jackson had given Stefon Diggs some trouble in the past but those days are likely gone, both because Jackson has lost something and, more importantly, because the Patriots are mid-collapse and can no longer construct the elaborate support structures Jackson used to have to his benefit. Diggs can likely torch all of these remaining corners, especially since Jonathan Jones continues to deal with injury. Gabe Davis can probably beat these guys, too, as he has a notable build advantage over the Patriots corners, who tend to be smaller.

Upgrade: Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A

New York Giants vs. Washington Commanders

GIANTS WIDE RECEIVERS

Isaiah Hodgins and Parris Campbell appear to be done. Darius Slayton and Jalin Hyatt got almost all of the boundary wideout snaps against Buffalo, with Slayton predictably doing more. Wan'Dale Robinson appears to have consolidated the slot. In this matchup Slayton and Hyatt get the toughest covers, especially factoring in how difficult it is to target downfield when the Giants offensive line is this battered by injury. Although, if Kendall Fuller (knee) is out that will make the boundary considerably weaker. Robinson needs a little space to get away from Benjamin St-Juste, but Robinson can probably cross him up and get St-Juste's ankles twisted.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: Darius Slayton (arguable raise to Even if Fuller is out), Jalin Hyatt
Even: Wan'Dale Robinson


 


 

WASHINGTON WIDE RECEIVERS

Although the Giants defense has found itself overmatched regularly they actually have a good amount of corner talent, especially with Deonte Banks outside and Adoree' Jackson in the slot. Tre Hawkins is toolsy at the other boundary spot. Banks and Hawkins are rookies, though, and Jackson can't make a play on the ball. Terry McLaurin (and Jahan Dotson) can beat corners better than these. It's been a struggle all year to get the ball to the Washington wideouts, though.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Jahan Dotson

Los Angeles Rams vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

RAMS WIDE RECEIVERS

Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua should have little or no trouble against players like Patrick Peterson, Levi Wallace and Chandon Sullivan. Kupp versus Sullivan in particular could get out of hand. The Steelers need to cook up some novel coverage schemes to catch the Rams off guard, because the corners need a bailout.

Upgrade: Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, Tutu Atwell
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A


 


 

PITTSBURGH WIDE RECEIVERS

Diontae Johnson should be back, diluting the target share of George Pickens but perhaps drawing some safety attention. Allen Robinson should remain the primary slot guy, though it will be interesting to see if he rotates out for Calvin Austin. The Rams corners are ill-suited to downfield coverage in general, and Ahkello Witherspoon might struggle with Johnson in particular since Witherspoon isn't built for lateral movement or start/stop. Witherspoon might be able to grapple with Pickens a bit on the sideline, because Witherspoon certainly has reach. Cobie Durant won't let Robinson separate but might struggle to match Robinson's physicality.

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

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons

TAMPA BAY WIDE RECEIVERS

Mike Evans has bizarrely gotten open quite a bit this year only to drop so many passes – traditionally the opposite development is the concern with an aging star receiver. If Evans can still get open it's arguably a reason for optimism despite his broader struggles, yet if he see A.J. Terrell here then the separation part of the formula might turn for the worse. Evans might only sometimes see Terrell, though, because the Buccaneers have apparently decided to leave Chris Godwin on the boundary permanently. This is an odd decision with a passing-challenged quarterback like Baker Mayfield – Godwin would provide some much-needed reliability in the slot – but until something changes Godwin will run mostly against Terrell and Jeff Okudah.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Mike Evans (arguable downgrade if shadowed by Terrell), Chris Godwin (see Evans)


 


 

ATLANTA WIDE RECEIVERS

In theory Carlton Davis should be one of the tougher matchups for Drake London. Davis can neutralize London's usual build advantage, and Davis' main weakness (downfield speed) isn't an issue against London, whose game isn't based on speed. London looks like a rare talent, though, and some day he will beat corners like Davis regularly. The question is whether that time is already here. Mack Hollins probably needs a busted coverage because corners like Davis and Jamel Dean can take care of Hollins.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: Mack Hollins
Even: Drake London

Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals

SEATTLE WIDE RECEIVERS

Although the pass blocking is an ongoing concern, the Seahawks receivers have a decisive advantage here. Marco Wilson and Kei'trel Clark cannot cover D.K. Metcalf or Tyler Lockett, at all. Jaxon Smith-Njigba benefits from a generally favorable setup as well, though his inability to prove himself to this point means he is more dependent on good fortune, whereas Metcalf and Lockett can straight up torch these corners even if every other little thing doesn't go their way.

Upgrade: D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Jaxon Smith-Njigba


 


 

ARIZONA WIDE RECEIVERS

Marquise Brown can cause problems for all the Seattle corners. Tariq Woolen can shut down the vertical threat on the sideline, but he can be vulnerable to double moves and can't track Brown laterally. Devon Witherspoon is about as much of a linebacker as he is a corner, and he has no prayer of running with Brown for more than five yards or so. Mike Jackson seems to have been benched for Tre Brown, and it remains to be seen if he's truly an upgrade. Michael Wilson can probably bully Brown but might not project as well against Witherspoon or Woolen. Rondale Moore tragically is not given regular chances to show what he's capable of, but he could run circles around these corners if given the chance.

Upgrade: Marquise Brown
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Michael Wilson, Rondale Moore

Denver Broncos vs. Green Bay Packers

DENVER WIDE RECEIVERS

Jaire Alexander is normally formidable but is playing through a back issue that must be limiting in some way or another. Jerry Jeudy is struggling but remains talented and capable of separation, so Alexander needs to be careful when the two are matched up. Courtland Sutton won't separate from Alexander but might be able to bully him a little bit. Rasul Douglas won't be bullied physically but can get crossed up by most starting receivers, including Sutton but especially Jeudy.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton


 


 

GREEN BAY WIDE RECEIVERS

Patrick Surtain is a nightmare matchup for either of Christian Watson or Romeo Doubs. The good news is Surtain can only cover one at a time, and the remainder gets a favorable matchup. Both Watson and Doubs should be able to beat a corner like Damarri Mathis, and certainly Ja'Quan McMillian. Jayden Reed should be able to burn Mathis and McMillian too. The Surtain variable makes it difficult to guess who will be open, but at least one of these receivers should be open most of the time.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers

KANSAS CITY WIDE RECEIVERS

The Chargers tend to play off-ball and try to redefine corner play from traditional coverage into something less difficult. This leaves big cushions underneath if the Chiefs want to exploit the Chargers' approach, so if Kadarius Toney can't do something here then it's unclear what he does exactly. Skyy Moore has been rendered ineffective by playing the wrong position, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a one-dimensional distance runner. Rashee Rice continues to look like the most capable of the Chiefs receivers, and indeed the Chargers corners would be right to fear him here. Mecole Hardman should take snaps at the expense of anyone other than Rice.

Upgrade: Rashee Rice
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman


 


 

CHARGERS WIDE RECEIVERS

Keenan Allen is not to be faded but he might have to grind it out against a Chiefs defense with a couple capable slot defenders in Trent McDuffie and L'Jarius Sneed. The Chiefs will probably try to roll a little help that way, too, though it's always easier said than done against Allen. Joshua Palmer is at a disadvantage against McDuffie and Sneed but might be able to beat the third corner, where the Chiefs rotate Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson. Williams and Watson are more easily beaten than Sneed or McDuffie, but it's still not a gimme. Quentin Johnston certainly torched corners of Watson/Williams caliber in college, but the Chargers seem incurious about their first-round pick.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Keenan Allen, Joshua Palmer

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Miami Dolphins

PHILADELPHIA WIDE RECEIVERS

Finally, a real shootout. This should be a big one. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith both comically overmatch the Dolphins boundary corners, where Xavien Howard and Eli Apple both have the bull's eye on them. Who knows what Julio Jones presents by now or even where he'd line up (the slot?), but I wouldn't bet against him if he's against Howard or Apple.

Upgrade: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A
 


 

MIAMI WIDE RECEIVERS

Although the Eagles corners and defense in general are far superior to those of the Dolphins, this should still be a spot where the Dolphins offense can strike back. Darius Slay doesn't project as a significant hindrance to either of Tyreek Hill or Jaylen Waddle, while the otherwise formidable James Bradberry is at a major trait mismatch disadvantage against small start/stop wideouts like Hill and Waddle. A huge corner like Bradberry finds strides easier to match against bigger wideouts – Bradberry would probably rather have to cover his own teammate A.J. Brown than he would jet-powered gnats like Hill and Waddle.

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

Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers

MINNESOTA WIDE RECEIVERS

Kevin O'Connell is on fraud watch and the absence of Justin Jefferson raised the heat in a way that's difficult to describe or quantify. In short, the Vikings have had little or no offense aside from Jefferson the last two years, yet that fact never resulted in much pain for Minnesota because Jefferson really is that unstoppable. Now that they have no Jefferson, O'Connell and the Vikings need to do something on their own and there's a strong chance they cannot. Jordan Addison is the only active Vikings receiver who can beat even average cornerback play, but with K.J. Osborn and Brandon Powell as the other two wideouts a defensive coordinator would be insane to not double Addison every single play. The Vikings are going to get crushed.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: K.J. Osborn, Brandon Powell
Even: Jordan Addison


 

SAN FRANCISCO WIDE RECEIVERS

The Vikings defense is one of the weakest in the league, and to Kyle Shanahan this matchup should be like playing on Easy Mode. Byron Murphy was supposed to be Minnesota's lead corner but he can't play effectively outside of the slot, where he did his best with Arizona. The Vikings insist on using Murphy outside, where he's simply too slow and small to hold serve. Everyone else in this corner rotation is worse yet. No hope.

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

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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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