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 6:
New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks (+3.5, 45)
Patriots’ no-huddle offense vs. CenturyLink Field 12th Man
If any team can deal with the fans in Seattle, it’s the disciplined Patriots, whose new M.O. is to keep defenses on the field and tired while Tom Brady acts as de facto on-field offensive coordinator.
Could be they’ll huddle up more in this one, which might kill the clock and depress the total. The Seahawks’ totals have been inflated all year and they are 0-5 over/under in that category. New England is -3.5 in this one, with a total of 45.
The Boston Globe’s Greg Bedard recently wrote a magazine-length explanation of the Patriots’ non-huddle offense.
Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans (-3.5, 48)
Sack leader J.J. Watt vs. Packers’ porous offensive line
Green Bay’s inability to keep Aaron Rodgers on his feet pretty much explains why the Packers are sucking wind in the NFC North, and they can’t afford any more separation from the Bears and Vikings.
J.J. Watt, dominant against the Jets Monday night, has to be liking what he sees on video – a Green Bay offensive line that has allowed Rodgers to be dumped 21 times already this season, including five in last Sunday’s loss to the Colts.
St. Louis Rams at Miami Dolphins (-3.5, 37.5)
Miami’s run defense vs. Worn-down Steven Jackson
Seemingly out of nowhere, the Dolphins defense against the run is the best in the league. After giving up 79 yards to Arian Foster on opening day, the best anyone has been able to do is 45 (Bilal Powell of the Jets). Miami even held Darren McFadden to just 22.
Enter Jackson, who appears to be running out of gas and has averaged only 3.5 yards a carry. He hasn’t gotten near a hundred yards in a game this season and has fallen to 18th in the league. Without Jackson, the road becomes very bumpy for the Rams (+3.5, 37.5).
Oakland Raiders at Atlanta Falcons (-9.5, 48.5)
Raiders’ third-down defense vs. Falcons’ third-down offense
There are a series of mismatches in this game, but none more evident than Atlanta’s ability to move the chains and Oakland’s inability to stop them. The Raiders have watched opponents convert more than 53 percent of their third-down plays. Teams have had to punt an average of only 3.2 times per game versus the Silver and Black so far this year.
The Falcons, who are 12th in yards per game and sixth in scoring, are tied for third with 24 first downs per game and rank second in third-down conversions, picking up the needed yardage on 48.48 percent of their third-down tries. Keeping the ball moving on third down will be necessary for Falcons backers hoping to cover that big spread.