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NFL’s Biggest Betting Mismatches: Week 8
By Jason Logan

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 and setting your daily fantasy lineup. Here are four of the biggest betting mismatches from Week 8:

Detroit Lions vs. Kansas City Chiefs (-5, 45)

Lions’ new OC Jim Bob Cooter vs. Chiefs’ improving defense

New Detroit offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, whose name seems ripped from “The Dukes of Hazard”, doesn’t have much time to put his schemes in action after replacing former OC Joe Lombardi. Cooter has mere days to familiarize his offense and find a balance between what he wants to do and what this offense already knows. And on top of that, Detroit has to travel to London, England for Week 8’s date.

Given that Cooter was the QB coach in Detroit for the past season and a half, bettors should expect the Lions to air it out even more, despite the fact that they already throw the ball on a league-high 69.98 percent of their snaps. That’s bred 18 total turnovers – most in the NFL – with 10 of those coming via interception. The Lions face a Chiefs defense with six picks in seven games, including three from standout rookie corner Marcus Peters.

And as far as Detroit’s playcalling at the line of scrimmage, Kansas City has benefited from nine false start penalties already this season – totaling 44 yards against opponents. The Chiefs stop unit has really taken off in recent weeks, allowing an average of just over 329 yards for 15.7 points per game in their last three contests – second lowest in the NFL in that span.

Daily fantasy watch: Buy – Chiefs D/ST, Sell – QB Matthew Stafford

Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns (+4.5, 46)

Cardinals explosive run game vs. Browns’ big-play problems

The Cardinals rushing game has stunned NFL pundits, continuing to get production from a ho-hum running back corps led by the resurrected Chris Johnson, who sits second in the NFL in rushing yards. Johnson is coming off a 122-yard performance against the Ravens last Monday, picking up the bulk of those yards on a 26-yard TD run and a 62-yard dash in which Baltimore thought they had tackled the former rushing champ.

Johnson is burning up the turf for 5.1 yards per carry and has rumbled for 15 runs of 10 yards or more this season, headlining an Arizona offense that has 27 total runs of 10-plus yards on the season – fourth most in the league. That’s helped average 125.6 yards on the ground per game, keeping defenses honest and off the back of QB Carson Palmer.

Cleveland is allowing 151 yards rushing per game – worst in the NFL – and has been bulldozed for 163.7 yards on the ground over its last three contests. Last week, the Browns watched Rams rookie RB Todd Gurley slice them up for 128 yards on 19 carries, including a 48-yard run. Add that to the big plays Cleveland has given up on the season, which sits at 29 runs of 10 or more yards heading into Week 8.

Daily fantasy watch: Buy – RB Chris Johnson, Sell – Cleveland D/ST

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (-4/ N/A)

Titans’ late-game collapses vs. Texans’ fantastic fourth quarters

The big question for this game is the health of Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota, who missed last week with a sprained knee. However, it might not matter who’s under center for Tennessee if its defense keeps coughing up points in the fourth quarter. The Titans stop unit has allowed opponents to score 9.3 points per final frame this season, which sits fifth worst in the NFL.

Outside of pitching fourth-quarter shutouts last week versus Atlanta and in Week 1 versus Tampa Bay, Tennessee has allowed 49 total points in the last 15 minutes. That type of defensive dwindling sets up for some painful backdoor covers the other way, especially against teams like Houston. The Texans have certainly been saving their best for last, as it pertains to fourth-quarter production.

Houston averages a league-high 12.1 points per fourth quarter this season, including 13 garbage-time points in the final quarter during a blowout loss to the Dolphins last week. In Week 6, the Texans put up 21 points in the closing 15 minutes to edge the Jaguars. Standout WR DeAndre Hopkins has recorded 319 of his total 776 receiving yards in the fourth quarter, along with three of his five TD catches. However, the biggest closer for the Texans in the fourth quarter actually hasn’t been the offense: it’s the defense. Houston is giving up only 4.1 points per fourth quarter on the year – third best in the NFL – allowing the team to outscore opponents by eight points in the fourth act of each contest.

Daily fantasy watch: Buy – WR DeAndre Hopkins, Sell – Titans D/ST

Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys (+6, 41)

Seahawks’ poor pass protection vs. Cowboys’ improving pass rush

When Russell Wilson gets sacked in AT&T Stadium Sunday, at least he’ll have that awesome Jumbo-Tron to look at rather than the usual blue sky or beams and girders. It may seem a little presumptuous to say the Seahawks QB will get sacked in Dallas, but with the way Seattle has protected its franchise player it’s a safe bet Wilson ends up on his back more than a few times.

The Seahawks have allowed Wilson to get sacked 31 times this season – five more than any other teams in the NFL (and that other team is Cleveland). Wilson was sacked five times in a blowout win over San Francisco last Thursday – a Niners pass rush that has only nine sacks prior to that game. The offensive line has been blown up by the blitz, which according to ESPN, has sacked Wilson 18.6 percent of the time when rushing more than four.

It’s well established that Hardy is not a nice person, and he’s done his part to play the role of the bad guy, but this guy can flat out crush QBs. He has three sacks in his first two games back from suspension, has recorded a sack in six straight games going back to 2013, and gets some help on the pass rush with rookie DE Randy Gregory getting healthy and second-year DE/LB DeMarcus Lawrence expected to play. Dallas has seven sacks in the last two games, a big turnaround from its total of just six combined in the four games previous.

Daily fantasy watch: Buy – Dallas D/ST, Sell – QB Russell Wilson