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 15:
Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants (+7, 41.5)
Seahawks’ early rise vs. East Coast
The Seahawks internal clocks won’t know what hit them when they take the field at MetLife Stadium Sunday. Seattle and New York are scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. ET, which is 10 a.m. ET back home in the Emerald City. The Seahawks have been able to overcome the time difference this season, going 3-1 SU and ATS in 1 p.m. ET starts but are just 4-4 SU and ATS in those early games over the past two seasons, which says a lot for a team that is 20-9 ATS during that span.
Not only does Seattle need a couple cups of coffee Sunday morning but it will also have to bundle up. Temperatures in East Rutherford are expected to dip below freezing and snow is in Sunday’s forecast. The Seahawks may be used to the rain and warmer winters on the West Coast but didn’t fare well in their last foray in the snow, losing 35-24 to Chicago in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs in 2011.
Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns (Pick, 45)
Bears’ fourth-quarter scoring vs. Browns’ fourth-quarter collapses
Jay Cutler. Josh McCown. It may not matter who’s under center for the Bears with the way the Browns are buckling in the final frame. Cleveland has failed miserably at closing out games, as evidenced by its letdown loss to New England last Sunday. Granted, the Browns were burned by a terrible pass interference call but there’s no denying the 35 total points allowed in the fourth quarter over their last three games – an average of 11.7 points over the last 15 minutes.
Chicago isn’t slamming the door with defense either, but is managing to offset that with a strong sprint to the finish line on offense. The Bears are fourth in the league in fourth-quarter scoring, averaging eight points in the final frame this season. Chicago didn’t let up on Dallas Monday, tacking on another 10 points in the fourth. Da Bears are also fourth in time of possession percentage in the final 15 minutes, holding on to the pigskin 54.20 percent of the quarter. Cleveland’s 44.91 percent is fourth lowest in the NFL.
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.5, 41.5)
Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton vs. Steelers’ stigma and primetime jitters
If Andy Dalton is going to get his team back to the playoffs, where they could be a very dangerous Super Bowl sleeper, he’s going to have to overcome two things that have plagued is short career in Cincinnati: the Steelers defense and the primetime spot light.
According to Yahoo!Sports, Dalton has been well below his bar versus Pittsburgh. His 53 percent completions and 67.8 passer rating in five games against the Steelers fall short of his career tallies of 60.8 percent and 85.1. Add to that a 2-3 SU record in primetime games – Cincinnati is 3-11 SU all-time on Sunday Night Football – and Dalton could be walking into a perfect storm in Pittsburgh Sunday night.
Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions (-6, 48)
Ravens’ LB Elvis Dumervil vs. Lions’ turnover troubles
This mismatch could swing to either side, depending on the ankle of Dumervil, who sat out last week’s thriller against Minnesota. Baltimore’s pass rush has been toothless without their newest addition to the linebacking corps. It failed to record a single sack against the Vikings, allowing Matt Cassel to throw for 265 yards and two TDs Sunday, and has just three sacks total in the past three games. Dumervil, who leads the team with 9.5 sacks, is questionable but holding out hope for a return in Week 15.
Without their top sack master, the Ravens may not be able to get to Lions QB Matt Stafford. Stafford has been at the center of Detroit’s three-game losing skid, throwing six interceptions during that skid. He had a clean sheet in last Sunday’s snow ball with the Eagles, but only threw the ball 25 times – his fewest attempts all season – and didn’t face any pass rush in that blizzard. If Dumervil is ready to go, that pressure could force more mistakes from Stafford.