Each week we take a look at some of the underlying mismatches in the NFL in order to find hidden betting value. Here are four mismatches you may not have considered when capping the NFL Divisional Round:
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos (-9.5, 46)
Ravens’ passive possession vs. Broncos’ ball hogging
Baltimore ranks among the worst teams in time of possession, holding on to the football an average of 27:43 per game. Those numbers took a tumble last week versus Indianapolis. The Colts ran the ball down the Ravens’ throats and limited Baltimore to just 22:28 TOP.
Denver finished among the top six in TOP, holding on to the ball an average of 31:16. The Broncos have been especially stingy in recent outings, posting an average TOP of 36:34 in their last three games – the highest in the NFL during that span. Much of that has to do with the emergence of RB Knowshon Moreno.
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-3, 44.5)
Packers’ pass pressure vs. Colin Kaepernick’s playoff jitters
Green Bay will be turning up the pressure with young QB Colin Kaepernick taking his first postseason snaps. The Packers ranked fourth in sacks with 47 and will look to attack the edges with their tricky blitz packages in order to contain the Niners’ dual-threat.
Over the past three games - versus Arizona, Seattle and New England – Kaepernick has been heavily pressured and has completed just 55.3 percent of his passes. He’s also had a tough time hanging on to the ball with nine fumbles on the year – tied for eighth most in the league.
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons (-1, 45.5)
Seahawks' replacement leg vs. Falcons’ bend-but-don’t-break defense
Seattle’s postseason hopes could be riding on the dusty leg of Ryan Longwell, who was added to the roster to replace injured kicker Steven Hauschka this week. Longwell hasn’t played since last season, when he went 22 of 28 on FG attempts and lost his job with the Vikings.
The Falcons defense doesn’t give up much inside the 20-yard line. They rank third in red-zone touchdowns allowed (1.2 per game) and sit 10th in red-zone scoring chances (2.6 per game). In the final game of the season, Atlanta forced Tampa Bay to settle for three FGs.
Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-9.5, 47.5)
Texans’ low battery vs. Patriots' high-powered offense
Houston’s offense has hit the wall, scoring an average of just under two touchdowns per game in the last three contests. The Texans mustered only 14 points in a blowout loss to the Pats in Week 14, and one of those TDs came after a late interception in New England territory.
Houston has had a tough time punching it in, scoring a TD in just 25 percent of its red-zone trips in that three-game stretch. The Texans were 1 for 4 inside the 20-yard line in last weekend’s win over Cincinnati. New England, on the other hand, is tops in the league in red-zone TD percentage (70%) and averages 4.2 touchdowns per game, another NFL best.