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 2:
San Diego Chargers at Philadelphia Eagles (-9.5, 55)
Chargers’ cross-country trip vs. Eagles’ frantic pace
Both of these teams are playing on a short week, having headlined the Monday doubleheader. But only one – San Diego – has to fly coast to coast in Week 2. The Chargers gassed out against the Texans in Week 1, giving up 24 points in the second half including 17 in the fourth quarter, and now face Chip Kelly’s rapid-fire attack.
New San Diego head coach Mike McCoy is trying to instill a similar plan of attack in his team this season, looking to push the tempo. That may be the Bolts’ worst enemy in Philadelphia. Getting into a track meet with the Eagles on a short week while traveling cross-country could leave little in the tank for the Chargers – again - come the fourth quarter.
Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs (-3, 46.5)
Cowboys’ rejuvenated front seven vs. Chiefs’ conservative attack
Dallas’ new 4-3 defense looked like it had been playing that scheme for years against the Giants Sunday night, picking off three passes and forcing three lost fumbles. Those six takeaways are a huge contrast to last season. The pass rush also looked good, getting to Eli Manning three times. The Cowboys' only weakness was to the big play, allowing New York to connect on long third-down conversions and strike for a 70-yard TD pass before the half.
Dallas defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin may not have to worry as much about the long bomb this week. The Chiefs offense dinked-and-dumped its way to 28 points versus Jacksonville Sunday, averaging only five yards per pass and topping out on a 26-yard completion from QB Alex Smith. Kansas City’s new head coach Andy Reid knows the Cowboys well, but not this revamped defense that is wreaking havoc between the chains.
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5, 47)
Saints’ downfield weapons vs. Bucs’ poor pass D and rusty Revis
Tampa Bay ranked last versus the pass in 2012 and was supposed to have plugged those holes with the addition of CB Darrelle Revis. However, Revis was a step behind in his first NFL game since last fall and the Bucs allowed Jets rookie QB Geno Smith to complete over 63 percent of his passes and connect for two TDs.
Enter Drew Brees, who has been the top gunslinger in the NFL the past five seasons. He put up 357 yards through the air and two touchdowns in a win over Atlanta, and went for 307 yards and four TDs in a 41-0 ass-waxing of Tampa Bay last season. Revis can only cover one guy. Brees has more than enough weapons to choose from, with six players targeted four or more times in Week 1.
Denver Broncos at New York Giants (+4.5, 55)
Broncos’ punishing pace vs. Giants’ dinged-up defense
The New York defense limps back home after a tough loss in Dallas Sunday night. The Giants have a laundry list of ailments, including CB Prince Amukamara, LB Dan Connor, and DE Jason Pierre-Paul, who obviously wasn’t 100 percent after offseason back surgery. Those injuries will be exploited even more when Peyton Manning puts his offensive pedal to the metal.
The Broncos’ no-huddle attack could strand those hobbled defenders on the field Sunday. They ran 68 plays during the Thursday’s night blowout over the Ravens and boasted the third-fastest pace in the NFL last year. Not only that, New York’s lack of a running game will have the Giants struggling to control the clock. And winning the time of possession battle is key when trying to slow down Manning. If he’s not on the field, he can’t hurt you. Expect to see more of one brother than the other in “The Manning Bowl”.