NFL's biggest betting mismatches: Week 11

Nov 13, 2017 |

Each week, Monty Andrews breaks down some of the underlying betting mismatches on the National Football League slate, giving you an inside edge when handicapping the schedule and setting your daily fantasy lineup.

Baltimore Ravens at Green Bay Packers (+2, 38)

Ravens' ruthless pass rush vs. Packers' poor O-line play

You might see the Ravens sitting in the middle of the pack in sacks (22) and wonder how this pass rush could be considered among the elite. A closer look reveals that Baltimore ranks 12th in sack rate (7.24 percent) and has forced a league-high 13 interceptions, leading to an NFL-best 270 interception return yards and two returns for touchdowns. Baltimore is coming off a three-sack effort in last week's 23-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

The Packers have already lost one quarterback to injury this season, and will need to do a better job of protecting the backup. Green Bay is one of only six teams to have already surrendered at least 30 sacks, and its 8.7-percent sack rate against is fifth-worst in the NFL.

Brett Hundley was taken down three times for a total of 30 yards lost in last week's victory over Chicago, and could be in for a long afternoon if the Ravens are able to exert their pass-rush dominance over Green Bay's suspect O-line.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns (+7.5, 37.5)

Jaguars' ball-thieving prowess vs. Browns' turnover troubles

Jacksonville has reeled off three wins in a row, and boasts one of the league's top point differentials at plus-92. Winning turnover battles has played a bit part in the Jaguars' resurgence, and they'll look to continue that success against a Cleveland team struggling to hang onto the ball.

One year has made all the difference in the world for Jacksonville, in a variety of areas. Turnovers is near the top of that list; after finishing with an abysmal minus-16 turnover differential last season - only the New York Jets and Chicago Bears fared worse - the Jaguars have completed a dramatic 180-degree turn, coming into this week ranked fifth with a plus-7 differential.
Jacksonville has forced a whopping 18 turnovers (11 interceptions, seven fumble recoveries); only the Los Angeles Rams have more.

Things aren't nearly as rosy for the woeful Browns, who once again own one of the league's worst turnover ratios. Cleveland comes into Week 11 with a dismal minus-13 turnover differential, ahead of only the Denver Broncos. Interceptions have been the biggest issue for the Browns; they've been picked off 18 times already in 2017, five more than the next closest team.

Look for that total - and the overall differential - to climb against one of the top secondaries in the league.

Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos (-2.5, 39.5)

Bengals' red-zone rejections vs. Broncos' bungling down-field offense

Two of the league's most disappointing teams face off in Colorado this weekend as the Cincinnati Bengals visit the Denver Broncos. Both teams had high hopes coming into the season, but injuries and ineffectiveness on both rosters have them carrying identical 3-6 records into this one. Denver's biggest problem has been an inability to convert red-zone visits into points - and it just so happens that Cincinnati, despite its struggles, has been one of the league's top teams at preventing red-zone scores.

Only the Los Angeles Chargers have been better at keeping opponents from turning red-zone opportunities into touchdowns than the Bengals, who have limited foes to a 38.7-percent success rate on the season.

It's a dramatic improvement from the 51-percent TD rate opponents boasted vs. Cincinnati a season ago. The Bengals are also allowing just 1.3 touchdowns on red-zone visits per game so far this season, the eighth-best rate in the NFL.

Denver's red-zone offense was an area of concern last season, when the Broncos produced touchdowns on just 46.8 percent of their trips inside the opponents' 20-yard line - the fifth-worst rate in the league. But things are even worse in 2017, with Denver scoring TDs on 43.3 percent of red-zone visits; only Pittsburgh and Indianapolis have been less prolific.

An inconsistent running game and terrible QB play have contributed - and if neither improves Sunday, expect more frustration in the Mile High State.

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (+3.5, 48.5)

Cowboys' dismal third-down D vs. Eagles' drive-extension mastery

The marquee matchup of Week 11 pits the NFC-leading Eagles against the rival Cowboys, who struggled mightily without standout offensive lineman Tyron Smith last week.

Dallas yielded eight sacks in the loss to the Atlanta Falcons, and need a win this week to remain in the hunt for the NFC East crown. But the red-hot Eagles have won seven consecutive games and have a significant advantage against the Cowboys when it comes to third-down situations.

Philadelphia has done just about everything well so far this season, which explains why they're the class of the conference through 10 weeks. But the Eagles have been particularly good when it comes to converting third downs, doing so at a 46.8-percent clip so far - behind only the Rams and Carolina Panthers. It's a major reason why Philadelphia ranks second behind the Panthers in time of possession, controlling the football for an average of 33 minutes, 12 seconds per game.

The Cowboys' problems on the offensive side of the ball - in addition to Smith, they're without franchise running back Ezekiel Elliott due to suspension - have garnered the majority of the headlines. But bettors shouldn't ignore the fact that the Dallas defense has allowed teams to extend drives or score on 43.5 percent of their third-down opportunities - the sixth-worst rate in the NFL.

The Eagles are one of the most dangerous teams in football - and the Cowboys can't afford to let them hold on to the ball.