The ability of a team to exploit a mismatch goes a long way in determining the outcome of NFL games. Each week, there are certain teams that hold a significant statistical advantage over its opponent in a certain area. Coaches spend hours game-planning to capitalize on such a scenario, and as a handicapper it's your duty to determine what potential impact such mismatches will have on the end result.
With that in mind, here are the biggest mismatches in the NFL for Week 11.
Indianapolis Colts at Atlanta Falcons (-5.5)
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Matt Ryan vs. Colts Pass Defense
The Falcons hold a couple of major statistical advantages in this one, including having the No. 3 rush defense taking on one of the league's worst rushing attacks. But the one that could have the biggest impact is Matt Ryan and the Falcons air attack against a bad Colts pass defense.
Matt Ryan is fifth in the NFL in passing with an average of 300.2 yards per game and 12 touchdowns. While the Falcons have been struggling lately, losing three of four straight up and five consecutive against the number, this could be the week Atlanta's offense gets back on track.
The Colts have allowed 279.3 yards per game and 16 touchdowns through the air this season, which puts them at No. 28 in the NFL in pass defense. A major reason for the porous pass defense has been the lack of a pass rush. The Colts 13 sacks is the third-fewest in the NFL.
Look for Ryan and Julio Jones to have big days Sunday.
New York Jets (-3) at Houston Texans
Jets Rush defense vs. Alfred Blue and Chris Polk
The Jets feature the NFL's best rush defense and this week faces a Houston team that has been virtually incapable of running the ball since the injury to Arian Foster earlier in the year. New York has given up just two rushing touchdowns all season while holding opponents just 88.1 rushing yards per game, which tops the NFL in both categories.
Houston has averaged 87.2 yards per game on the ground and just 3.3 yards per carry this season, the latter of which is tied for the lowest in the NFL. Blue has ran for just 69 yards on 29 carries in the three games since Foster's injury, while Polk has tallied 36 yards on 16 carries during the same span.
It will likely be up to quarterback Brian Hoyer to carry the Texans this week, and that is rarely a good thing.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (-12.5)
Blaine Gabbert vs. Seattle Pass Defense
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert managed to do enough to lead the 49ers to a 17-16 win against Atlanta in his first start in place of Colin Kaepernick, but he will be facing an entirely different animal this week in Seattle. The veteran backup went 15-of-25 for 185 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, which came against a middling pass defense. Now he faces the NFL's No. 2 pass defense in the Legion of Boom.
Seattle has allowed just 202.8 yards per game through the air and nine touchdown passes, which is the second fewest in the league. These numbers mean the 49ers will likely be one-dimensional on offense, which is rarely a good thing in the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers
Kansas City Rush Defense vs. Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead
The Chiefs boast the NFL's eighth-best rushing defense as they've allowed just 97.1 yards per game on the ground this season. This week they face a Chargers team that ranks 30th in rushing with just 85.3 yards per game. Gordon, the Chargers first-round draft pick this season and leading rusher, has averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and has yet to find the end zone. Woodhead has averaged 4.0 yards a carry and has scored the Chargers only two rushing touchdowns of the year, which ranks them last in the NFL in that category.
As has been the case most of the season, it will be up to Phillip Rivers to provide the heavy lifting for the Bolts.
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