There are a few glaring statistical mismatches on this week's NFL slate, including in the big New England-Denver matchup in the Mile High City on Sunday night. This week, a closer look will be taken at four different games that feature teams with bad matchup. Let's get started.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts (-3)
Doug Martin vs. Colts Rush Defense
Doug Martin has averaged 5 yards per carry to rank second in the NFL with a total of 941 rushing yards on the season. As a team, the Buccaneers also rank second in rushing with 142.2 yards per game. This week Tampa faces a Colts team that is 21st against the run having allowed 113.4 yards per game.
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Martin is currently in top form as he's coming off an NFL season-high 235-yard performance in the Bucs 45-17 rout of Philadelphia last week. Tampa rookie quarterback Jamies Winston is also coming off his best game of the season having tied a rookie record with five touchdown passes, which means teams will be less prone to stack up against the run. Winston is certainly making strides-and the Colts aren't all that strong against the pass, either-but look for another healthy dose of Martin this week.
New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans (-3)
Brian Hoyer vs. Saints Pass Defense
Hoyer will be back under center for the Texans after missing last week's 24-17 win against the Jets because of concussion symptoms. Hoyer and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (76 catches, 1,045 yards, nine touchdowns) lead a Houston aerial attack that has averaged 266.7 yards per game this season, which ranks sixth in the NFL.
This week the Texans must be licking their chops as they face a Saints pass defense that has been absolutely abysmal all season long. New Orleans has allowed 293.1 yards per game through the air, which is the second-worst in the league. In addition, the 28 touchdown passes allowed by the Saints this season is far and away the most in the NFL.
In his six starts this season, Hoyer has done a good job of limiting mistakes (13 touchdowns vs. four interceptions) and getting the ball to Hopkins. The Texans have won three straight and are playing their best football of the season, which could make for a long day for New Orleans.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (+10.5)
Carson Palmer vs. 49ers Pass Defense
Palmer is having a fabulous season for the Cardinals. The veteran signal-caller ranks third among quarterbacks with 3,066 passing yards this season while completing 64.2 percent of his passes with a league-high 27 touchdowns against just nine interceptions. Palmer has been able to consistently get the ball down the field this season as well. He has the most completions in the league of at least 20 yards with 46, and his nine completions of 40 yards or more is tied for the league lead.
This week Palmer and the Cardinals face a San Francisco team that's allowed 277.8 passing yards per game, which is the sixth-most in the NFL. Opposing quarterbacks have completed a lofty70.1 percent of passes against the 49ers.
Arizona is certainly laying a lot of points on the road in this one. However, barring any weather issues in the Bay Area this weekend, Palmer figures to be flinging it early and often.
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos (+3)
New England Rush Defense vs. Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson
New England boasts the NFL's second-best rush defense with just 88.8 rushing yards allowed per game this season. The Patriots front-seven is one of the most underrated such units in the NFL, and this week they face a Broncos team that has largely struggled to move the ball on the ground, though they did churn out 170 rushing yards in last week's 17-15 win over Chicago.
However, it will be a whole other challenge on Sunday for Denver as last week's opponent featured one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL.
Last week against Buffalo, the Patriots held the run-first Bills-who feature the NFL's fifth-best rushing attack-to just 67 yards on 29 carries. This Patriots defensive front is a much faster and aggressive unit than has been seen in New England in recent years. Some are comparing it to the Teddy Bruschi-led defenses of the aughts. Denver quarterback Brock Osweiler performed admirably last week while making his first start of the season. But now Bill Belichik and the Pats have a complete game-tape of Osweiler to study, which could have a significant impact on the young quarterback's production.
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