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 9:
Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons (-4, 47.5)Cowboys’ slow starts vs. Falcons fast first quarters
The Cowboys play their best football when behind on the scoreboard, which has kind of been the way all their games are going. Dallas ranks 30th in the NFL in first-quarter points, averaging just two per game, and was outscored 13-0 in the first quarter of last week’s loss to New York.
Atlanta, on the other hand, has stayed perfect in the standings thanks to its strong starts. The Falcons offense is averaging 6.7 points per first quarter – fourth in the NFL – and the team has trailed after one frame only once this season, outscoring foes 48-13 in the first quarter.Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans (-10, 47)Bills’ run defense vs. Arian Foster
Buffalo’s defensive line might as well have a turnstile the way opposing teams are rushing through it. The Bills rank dead last in the league in defending the run, giving up 176.9 yards on the ground per game. They were gashed for 195 yards and two scores from Tennessee RB Chris Johnson last weekend. Buffalo has given up nearly two rushing touchdowns per game this season, another NFL worst.
Foster leads the league in scores on the ground, rumbling into the end zone 10 times and sits fifth in total rushing yards with 659. He’ll have plenty of fuel in the tank after a bye which followed a 98-yard, two-score performance against Baltimore in Week 7.Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks (-5.5, 38.5)Sheltered Vikes vs. Soggy CenturyLink Field
Surprise, surprise. The extended forecast is calling for rain in Seattle. There’s a 50 percent chance of showers and game-time temperatures are expected to slip into the low 50s. Add to that environment the always-boisterous “12th Man” at CenturyLink Field, and the Vikes are in hostile territory in Week 9.
That shouldn’t phase a bunch of tough guys from Minnesota, except for the fact the Vikings are sheltered under the cozy confines of the Metrodome most weeks. Minnesota has played just one outdoor game this season – a 38-28 loss at Washington – and is 1-2 SU and ATS away from home this season.
Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints (-3, 52.5)Eagles’ field position vs. Saints’ punting
Part of the Eagles’ struggles on offense has come from poor field position. Philadelphia ranks 31st in the league in starting field position, beginning drives at an average of the 24.9-yard line. In 83 possessions this year, the Eagles have started at their own 40-yard line of better just eight times. The Eagles rank third worst in punt return yardage (5.6 yards per return) and i26th in the NFL in kick return yards (20.2 yards per kick return).
The Saints aren’t doing a lot of things right but have been one of the best punting team in the NFL this season. New Orleans’ big boot Thomas Morstead boasts an average punt of 51.3 yards (second highest in the NFL) and the return coverage is keeping that at 46.4 average yards net on punts – tops in the league.