Each week, Jason Logan breaks 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 14:
Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Redskins (+3, 44.5)
Andy Reid’s NFC East knowledge vs. Ruined Redskins
Kansas City head coach Andy Reid knows more about the NFC East than most outside the division, having waddled the sidelines in Philadelphia for 13 seasons. That inside info has shown in the Chiefs record versus NFC East teams this season, with Kansas City going 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS against Dallas, New York and Philadelphia.
Washington has fallen far from the class of the NFC East in just one season, lugging a 3-9 record into Week 14. Quarterback Robert Griffin III is no longer a dual-threat dynamo, having been put on a short leash as a pocket passer to protect his wonky knees. The Redskins have done a terrible job protecting him and have allowed RG3 to be sacked 15 times in the past three games - all loses SU and ATS. The Chiefs pass rush isn’t as potent as earlier in the season but still has teeth, especially with Reid exploiting Washington’s weakness.
Oakland Raiders at New York Jets (-2.5, 40)
Raiders’ fast starts vs. Jets’ failure to launch
The Raiders don’t waste any time finding the end zone. Oakland ranks second in the NFL in first-quarter scoring – 7.2 points per opening frame – and sits eighth in the league in first-half points, averaging 13.1 points through the first two quarters. The Raiders have outscored opponents 86-41 in the first 15 minutes before suffering a power outage following halftime.
If Oakland gets out to another strong start versus the Jets, a poor second half may not matter. New York has dropped three in a row, scoring a combined 18 points in those games. A QB shuffle hasn’t helped the offense at all, and Gang Green could finally be giving up on head coach Rex Ryan. New York averages just 2.6 points per first quarter – worst in the NFL – and has mustered only three total first-half points during this losing skid.
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals (-6, 41.5)
Rams’ pass rush vs. Cardinals’ QB Carson Palmer
The high point in a low season for the Rams has been the play of their front four. St. Louis has been able to bring a dominant pass rush with just its defensive linemen, especially DE Robert Quinn who is second in the NFL with 13 sacks. Quinn has three sacks on Arizona QB Carson Palmer in Week 1, helping the Rams edge the Cardinals 27-24 as 3-point home underdogs. On the season, St. Louis has 37 sacks – tied for fifth in the league.
Palmer doesn’t respond well to pressure. The aging passer runs like he’s stuck in mud and has a bad habit of relieving that pressure by throwing away interceptions. Palmer was sacked five times and threw two INTs in the loss to Philadelphia last weekend and has been crushed 11 times in the past three games. To make matters worse, RB Andre Ellington is out of action, taking away one of Palmer’s favorite check downs when things get hot.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-3, 45.5)
Panthers’ time of possession vs. Saints’ Superdome offense
The Seahawks may have laid the blueprint for locking down the Saints during last Monday’s squash, but Carolina coach Ron Rivera may not even look to his defense to slow down Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense Sunday night. The Panthers offense can do that. Carolina tops the league in time of possession, chewing up more than 33 minutes per game, and has limited opponents to an average of 58.7 plays per game – fewest in the NFL.
New Orleans defense is improved but the backbone of the Big Easy is Brees and that potent pass game. The Saints sit second in time of possession this season - 32:30 – but held on to the football for only 26:22 in the loss to Seattle. Opponents have been trying to kill the clock in recent meetings with New Orleans, limiting it to an average of only 29:05 TOP and just over two touchdowns in the Saints last three games. New Orleans is 0-3 ATS in the span.