Each week, we break down some of the underlying mismatches in the NFL hoping to give you an inside edge when handicapping the schedule. Here are four of the biggest betting mismatches from Week 5:
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5, 43)
Steelers’ rested pass defense vs. Inconsistent Michael Vick
Three wins a month will get you to 12-4 and a division championship, and they’d gladly take that in Philadelphia. But the Eagles have been walking along the edge of the cliff, with their three victories coming by a total of four points.
They’re not really sure what they’ll get from Michael Vick on a weekly basis – he completed 52 percent of his passes against Cleveland, 72 percent vs. Baltimore, 46 percent in a loss to Arizona and 63 percent against the Giants.
Pittsburgh already has the league’s fourth-best numbers against the pass and injured stars Troy Polamalu and James Harrison are expected back for this game.
Houston Texans at New York Jets (+9, 41.5)
Texans’ No. 1-ranked defense vs. Jets’ inability to move the ball
Talk shows in New York are pressuring Rex Ryan to dump Mark Sanchez and let Tim Tebow try to replicate what he did last year in Denver. While 2-2 is just about what everyone figured the Jets to be, it looks like a train wreck is about to happen in New Jersey.
This is Houston’s chance to strut its stuff on a national stage and, with the best defense in the league, there’s no reason the Texans shouldn’t get it done.
Cleveland Browns at New York Giants (-9.5, 44)
Browns’ bad timing vs. Ticked-off Giants
The numbers really don’t show it, but the Browns haven’t been half bad. But as usual, a couple of plays a game keep the franchise from gaining any traction. They have to suck it up again and play a decent Giants team coming off a tough road loss.
Browns rookie Brandon Weeden is under water with seven interceptions against three TD passes and it’s hard to see how that improves considering the way the Giants bring the heat.
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers (-3, 43.5)
Seahawks vs. The road
There has been no friendlier moneyline bet over the years than fading the Seahawks on the road.
Seattle hasn’t been able to break even away from home since 2006. It’s 0-2 already this season as it head cross-country for Carolina. The Seahawks have to figure out a way to get past either San Francisco or Arizona to get to the playoffs.