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NFL’s biggest betting mismatches: Week 5
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 5:
Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans (+2.5, 42)
Bills’ coach Rex Ryan vs. Titans’ rookie QB Marcus Mariota
Rex Ryan looks at rookie quarterbacks the same way he looks at “All You Can Eat” ribs: must destroy. In his six-year tenure with the Jets, Ryan’s squads went 9-2 SU in their first look at rookie QBs and with the No. 2 overall pick up next, the Buffalo defense is putting on the bibs and stacking the wet-naps in preparation for a feast.
The Bills throw out a lot of different looks when it comes to their pass rush, and while they haven’t recorded a ton of sacks (7) and QB hurries (18), they do have six interceptions. Disguising the blitz, collapsing the pocket, and getting opposing QBs to move around is how they’re getting those picks, and that can be too much for seasoned quarterbacks to deal with – let alone a rookie.
Mariota has been stellar in his three games, completing almost 63 percent of his throws for a QB rating of 109.2. However, he’s been sacked 12 times already and has been hesitant to run with the ball, scrambling only five times – a drastic flip-flop when compared to his work at Oregon. Mariota will see plenty of Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes Sunday.
Daily fantasy watch: Buy – Buffalo D/ST, Pass – QB Marcus Mariota
Seattle Seahawks at Cincinnati Bengals (-3, 43)
Seahawks’ poor protection vs. Bengals’ pass rush
Russell Wilson is likely still black and blue from the pounding dished out by the Lions this past Monday. The Seahawks QB was sacked six times and fumbled twice against Detroit, bringing his season total to 18 sacks. That puts the Seattle offensive line on pace for the worst protection ever through the first four games.
Cue the Bengals, who have been full blast on defense since Week 1. Cincinnati’s pass rush has crushed 11 quarterbacks and recorded 18 defensive hurries, coming off a five-sack performance against Kansas City. Russell, being a dual-threat QB, is used to taking some licks and was sacked 42 times last season. But not having a healthy Marshawn Lynch in the back field with him has allowed opponents to bring more pressure with fear of the run.
Another thing working against Russell on this short week is his height. He’s much shorter than the prototypical QB, standing only 5-foot-11. Cincinnati knows this and will use its towering defensive line to blind Wilson’s view down field. The Bengals have huge ends in 6-foot-6 Carlos Dunlap and 6-foot-7 Michael Johnson, along with 6-foot-3 nose tackle Domata Peko. The runt of the litter is DT Geno Atkins – only 6-foot-1 – and he only has a sack in three of Cincy’s first four games.
Daily fantasy watch: Buy – Cincinnati D/ST, Pass – QB Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders (+4.5, 43.5)
Broncos’ “different” looks vs. Raiders’ coach Jack Del Rio
On the surface, it would look like the Broncos are a whole new team. Head coach Gary Kubiak has retooled the offense, implementing his zone-blocking schemes while coming to terms with how Peyton Manning wants to do things. On defense, Wade “Don’t call me Bum” Phillips has flipped from the 4-3 scheme to the 3-4 formation, shaking up the stop unit after a complete coaching overhaul.
One of the men axed in Denver along with the John Fox regime this past offseason is former defensive coordinator and current Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, who told the media this week that while the Broncos may look different, they’re still doing a lot of the same things. Del Rio has intimate knowledge about the Denver defense, and knows how their key talents want to play.
He also has detailed info on Manning, having run his defense against the aging QB the past three seasons while also studying “Mr. Omaha” for years during his time as the Jaguars head coach, playing Manning’s Colts twice a year. So far, Manning hasn’t been sharp in 2015, getting intercepted five times and sacked 10 times with a patchwork offensive line trying to protect. “We’re going after him,” Del Rio told NFL Radio this week.
Daily fantasy watch: Buy – Oakland D/ST, Pass – QB Peyton Manning
San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants (-6.5, 43)
Niners’ dependency on big runs vs. Giants’ rushing defense
We knew things would get ugly in the City by the Bay this season, but maybe not this ugly – Steve Buscemi ugly. So far, the 49ers offense has been the biggest strain on the eyes. The passing game is MIA, with Colin Kaepernick boasting a QB rating of 67.7 and averaging only 158.8 yards through the air per game – dead last in the NFL.
That noodle-armed passing attack has put extra emphasis on the run game to pick up big yards this season. San Francisco has recorded 17 runs of 10 yards or more, most of those coming from a scrambling Kaepernick and RB Carlos Hyde, who hasn’t done much since a huge Week 1 performance. Hyde rushed for just 20 yards on eight attempts in a loss to Green Bay last Sunday.
The Giants defense has been among the toughest to run against through the first four weeks. New York has allowed an average of just under 70 yards per game despite facing some vaunted rushing attacks in the opening stretch of schedule. The G-Men have limited opponents to only 3.1 yards per carry and have given up just five runs of 10 yards or more heading into the Sunday nighter.
Daily fantasy watch: Buy – New York D/ST, Pass – RB Carlos Hyde