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 8:
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (+1, 47.5)
Tony Romo’s playmaking vs. Giants defense
Romo is one of the rare quarterbacks who makes his best plays when rolling out of the pocket. That’s been the case versus the rival Giants in recent meetings.
According to ESPN, Romo has thrown for six TDs outside of the pocket versus New York over the past two seasons. The Giants defense has allowed all other opposing QBs to connect for just one TD outside the pocket in the same time span.
Romo passed for 307 yards and three TDs in Dallas’ 24-17 win over New York in Week 1. Two of those scores – and plenty of big passes - came with Romo on the run.
Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions (-1, 43.5)
Lions’ red-zone futility vs. Seahawks’ red-zone defense
A backdoor cover saved Lions fans from jumping off a bridge Monday night, with Detroit going just 1 for 4 in the red zone during a 13-7 loss to the Chicago Bears.
The Lions coughed the ball up three times inside Chicago’s 20-yard line and have scored TDs on just over 36 percent of their red-zone trips in the past three games. Detroit is averaging 15.3 points per game in that span.
Seattle’s defense has been extra stingy when backed up against the end zone this season. The Seahawks rank second in the NFL, allowing foes to score a TD in just 30 percent of their trips inside the red zone. Last Thursday, Seattle held the San Francisco 49ers to 1 for 4 inside the 20-yard line. The only other team with a better red-zone defense than the Seahawks – funny enough – is the Lions.
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (-1, 45.5)Falcons’ failing run defense vs. Eagles’ speed
The Falcons may be perfect in the standings, at 6-0 heading into Week 8, but there are plenty of flaws in their game. The most notable chink the armor is Atlanta’s banged–up run defense, which has given up massive yardage and ranks 28th in the league (143.8 yards against per game).
The Falcons dodged a few big-yardage bullets from Raiders RB Darren McFadden thanks to penalties wiping out huge gains last week. They gave up 115 yards to Washington Redskins RB Alfred Morris in Week 5 and watched Denver Broncos RB Willis McGahee go for 113 yards and two TDs back in Week 2.
Philadelphia has one of the fastest rushing attacks in the NFL with RB LeSean McCoy and dual-threat QB Mike Vick tearing up the turf. The Eagles have been reluctant to run the ball, despite Vick’s passing woes, but expect Andy Reid to attack the Falcons' sore spot with a bye week to prepare for Atlanta.Washington Redskins at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5, 47.5)RG3’s missing security blanket vs. Steelers’ pass defense
Every rookie quarterback's best friend is his tight end. When there are no options down field and the pass rush is closing in, no one makes the first-year passing look better than the check-down tight end.
Robert Griffin III has been superb through the first seven weeks of his NFL career but heads into Sunday’s game versus Pittsburgh without his favorite target, TE Fred Davis. Davis, who leads the Redskins in receptions and yardage, is out for the season after tearing his Achilles' last week.
The team pulled former TE Chris Cooley off the couch for the remainder of the year, but his lack of fitness and chemistry with a new QB could damn Washington when plays break down. The Steelers thrive on pressure and have limited opposing passers to just 184.8 yards per game – second lowest in the NFL.