NFL Betting and Wagering Advice: Biggest Mismatches Week 2
by Victor Ryan - 9/15/2016
With Week 1 of the NFL season in the books, handicappers now have at least some empirical evidence from which to possibly draw conclusions for wagering. But remember, it's just one week. Last week's performance does not define a particular team, unit or player. It does give us a clue to future production, however.
For example, this week's look at the biggest mismatches in the NFL includes the Raiders secondary. Oakland ranked near the bottom in pass defense last season, so it seemed smart they gave monster contracts to a veteran starting corner and Pro Bowl safety. Well, continue reading and you'll see those moves didn't work out so well in Week 1. This week's notable NFL mismatches:
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Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)
DeAngelo Williams vs. Bengals Front Seven
Williams had 146 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries when running through and around the Redskins defense in the season opener. He continues to be one of the most underrated backs in the league, time and again showing to be more than just a capable backup to the oft-missing Le'Veon Bell. In fact, since signing on the cheap last March (2 years, $4 million), Williams has actually started more games than Bell.
In this critical division matchup, Williams faces a bit of a suspect Bengals run defense. In Cincinnati's 23-22 season-opening win against the Jets, the Bengals allowed 152 rushing yards on 30 carries. The average of 5.1 yards allowed per carry was the highest in the league in Week 1.
The Bengals run defense has been hurt by the absence of standout ILB Vontaze Burfict, who is serving a suspension for his antics in last year's playoffs. The Steelers are perhaps the best team in football at using the run to set up the deep ball. For any chance at an upset, it's critical the Bengals contain Williams.
Baltimore Ravens (-6.5) at Cleveland Browns
Ravens Pass Defense vs. Josh McCown
Yes, it was against the offensively-challenged Bills, but the 95 net passing yards allowed by the Ravens were the fewest in the league in Week 1. Though prone to giving up big plays a year ago, Baltimore still ranked in the Top 10 in pass defense last season. That was also a largely injury-depleted unit, with the most notable being Pro Bowl edge rusher Terrell Suggs , who was lost in Week 1.
Suggs and the Ravens are healthy now and figure to be even better against the pass, as last week would indicate. Meanwhile, Robert Griffin III and the Browns mustered just 168 yards through the air in a loss to the Eagles last week. Griffin, who suffered a shoulder injury in the game and was placed on injured reserve Monday, will be replaced in the starting lineup by McCown. While some view the veteran journeyman as an upgrade at the position, note the Browns were just 1-7 in games started by McCown a season ago. And he may actually have even less talent to work with this year. It could be another long day for Cleveland.
Atlanta Falcons at Oakland Raiders (-5)
Julio Jones vs. Raiders Secondary
The Raiders revamped and supposedly improved secondary was torched by Drew Brees and the Saints in the opener. Big-ticket free agent cornerback Sean Smith was repeatedly beaten in coverage, which led to this quote:
"I was getting killed, I'm not going to lie to you," Smith told NFL.com. "It was getting bad out there."
Del Rio said Smith and his $40 million contract will get the start this week, but it sounds like the leash might be short. Oakland ranked 26th in pass defense a season ago and was banking on its two free-agent signees, Smith and Pro Bowl safety Reggie Nelson, to solidify the unit. It wasn't a good start.
It's a tough turnaround, as well, as following Brees and company comes Julio Jones and Matt Ryan. Last year's co-leader in receptions with 136, Jones had four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown coming on a deep ball in the Falcons 31-24 loss to the Buccaneers in Week 1. He is simply an elite receiver that produces, no matter the opponent, and Jones could have a field day against this Raiders defense. Oakland's pass rush was virtually non-existent last week, and Smith straight up looked a step too slow against the Saints. But remember, it was just one week.
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