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Reply To: NFL Week 13 • Previews, Articles, Info. • Sunday 12/6/15

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NFL’s biggest betting mismatches: Week 13
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 13:

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-2.5, 43)

Jaguars’ rotten red-zone defense vs. Titans’ red-zone offense

The last time these AFC South rivals met, they nearly lulled a nation of football bettors to sleep with a 19-13 Jacksonville win on Thursday Night Football. We may get more action out of this one, considering how bad the Jaguars’ red-zone defense is and how much Tennessee has improved with the ball inside the opposition’s 20-yard line.

The Titans actually rank among the top teams in red-zone efficiency when it comes to scoring touchdowns rather than settling for field goals. Tennessee has hit pay dirt on over 62 percent of its red-zone tries – seventh in the NFL – and has upped that to nearly 67 percent in the last three games. Against Jacksonville, the Titans didn’t sniff the red zone once but last week, they scored six in two of their three shots inside the 20-yard line against Oakland.

Jacksonville has given up touchdowns on almost 68 percent of their opponents’ drives inside the 20-yard line – the worst percentage in the NFL. The Jaguars have been even more generous in the red zone the last three games, allowing teams to put six on the board in almost 86 percent of their red-zone attempts. Last week, in a loss to San Diego, the Chargers scored a touchdown on four of their five ventures inside the twenty.

Daily fantasy watch: TE Delanie Walker

Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings (Pick, 41.5)

Seahawks’ defensive schemes vs. Vikings’ second look

The Vikings just aced their exam on the Seahawks defense in Week 12, taking apart the Atlanta Falcons and head coach Dan Quinn’s unit to the tune of a 20-10 win in which Adrian Peterson steamrolled the Falcons’ run stoppers for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Quinn, Atlanta’s big hire this offseason, was the architect of Seattle’s vaunted stop unit serving as defensive coordinator for those NFC championship teams.

Now it’s time to apply those lessons learned to the real world. The Seahawks pose a much tougher threat, in terms of defensive depth and playmakers, but Minnesota can’t help but recognize certain formations, schemes and situations when comparing film of last week’s win and Seattle’s body of work this season.

The Seahawks rank fifth against the run, giving up just under 93 yards per game. However, opponents have run the ball just 40 percent of the time against them and that number has plummeted even lower in recent weeks, with the last three opponents – Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Arizona – handing the ball off less than 30 percent of the time in that span. The Steelers actually got 4.1 yards per carry against Seattle last week but attempted just 14 runs.

Daily fantasy watch: RB Adrian Peterson

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (+7, 50)

Panthers’ TE Greg Olsen vs. Saints’ trouble with tight ends

Olsen has put his name among the top tight ends in the league since joining Carolina in 2011 and is celebrating a career year with six touchdowns and nearly 15 yards per reception heading into Week 13. He’s not only been Cam Newton’s safety blanket but also his top option, since WR Kelvin Benjamin was lost to injury in training camp.

Olsen had another big day against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, roping in five balls for 70 yards, including a 31-yard gain. He’s broken big plays all season long, including a 52-yard gain against the Saints in Week 3 – a game in which Olsen totaled eight catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns.That set the wheels in motion for a bad year versus tight ends for the Saints.

New Orleans has given up 860 yards to tight ends as well as 10 touchdowns – both stats rank second worst in the NFL. Last week, Houston TE Ryan Griffin posted 72 yards and a score on four catches – and that’s a guy who just came off the IR with a knee injury. The game before, Washington TE Jordan Reed tallied two touchdowns versus New Orleans, and in Week 9 Tennessee TE Delanie Walker had a circus day with 95 yards and two scores against the Saints.

Daily fantasy watch: TE Greg Olsen

Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7, 47)

Colts’ big play problems vs. Steelers’ explosive attack

The Colts secondary got the willies Wednesday afternoon – like someone had just walked on their grave. But it wasn’t anything supernatural, it was just Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger clearing concussion protocol and returning to practice, making him probable for Sunday night’s game in the Steel City.

Roethlisberger is the conductor of one of the most explosive passing attacks in the NFL, one that is putting up 278.9 yards through the air per game. Pittsburgh has a bevy of weapons downfield, with Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Markus Wheaton all able to hit the home run. That’s helped the Steelers connect for a NFL-best 31 passing plays of 25 yards or more this season.

The reason Indianapolis is dreading Big Ben’s return is because the team has watched opponents go for 29 passes of 25 yards or more against – also the most in the NFL. The Colts have given up 272.8 yards passing per game this season – 27th in the league – and almost 12 yards per completion. And with backup Matt Hasselbeck under center, Indianapolis may not have the fire power to keep up if Roethlisberger exploits the secondary for chunks of yardage.

Daily fantasy watch: QB Ben Roethlisberger