Five Mismatches To Watch For In Week 2 Of The NFL Season

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on September 15, 2021
NFL Week 2 matchups

Each week of the NFL season brings a new set of matchups, and with it, a new subset of positional groups and players going at each other. Even divisional rematches will often take slightly different form throughout the season due injuries and ongoing team positional turnover. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the NFL Week 2 matchups and see if we can find any mismatches to potentially exploit.

Matchups might come at the player, unit, or even coaching levels. Note that this list is far from exhaustive. You can surely find many more mismatches across the league.

Actionable response to these could come in the form of props, fantasy decisions, spread or moneyline bets or plays on the over/under.

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NFL Week 2 Matchups And Mismatches To Watch

Washington Pass Rush Versus Giants Offensive Line

Coming up first for Week 2, the Thursday Night Football matchup features the Washington Football Team hosting the New York Giants.

If you just look at the stats from the opening week games, this looks like a mismatch in favor of New York. Pro Football Reference’s pressure stats say the Giants OL did a fine job protecting their QB even as the team mustered 13 points. They credit Denver with the lowest pressure rate in the league, with their metrics tabbing Washington’s own rush as having the third-worst pressure rate.

But if you look at the talent available for these teams, it tells a different story. Remember, PFF rated this Giants unit the worst in the league in the preseason. And we all know how potent this Washington pass rush was last year, with Chase Young only likely to be stronger in his sophomore campaign.

The total tells the tale here with the lowest number on the board easily as of Wednesday. Only one team has a lower implied team total than NY Giants.

The market doesn’t think these Week 1 stats are predictive, so expect domination by the Washington pass rush in these Week 2 NFL matchups in the trenches.

Patriots Defensive Scheme Versus Zach Wilson

Defensive whiz Bill Belichick is known to run one of the more fiendishly complex defenses out there. He seeks to confuse opposing QBs at every turn, and his system has powered the Patriots to an unprecedented period of dominance.

Rookie QBs in particular have struggled against Belichick. That should come as little surprise since becoming an expert at reading NFL defenses takes years of seasoning.

Last year, Tua Tagovailoa became the first rookie starter to beat the Pats since 2013. Even that came more in spite of him than because of him as he tossed for 145 on 26 attempts with an INT. Overall, Belichick has gone 21-6 against rookies since 2000.

While Jets QB Zach Wilson certainly has some promising talent, this looks likely to be a rough spot for him. He swallowed a first-half shutout at the hands of the Panthers in Week 1 before recovering somewhat in the second half. Overall, he still managed just 4.8 yards per dropback.

Will Wilson become the latest young Jets QB to see ghosts against Belichick’s Patriots?

Browns Offensive Line Versus Texans Defensive Line

After the Browns dropped a close one at Kansas City focused on how the Chiefs staged yet another comeback win behind brilliant play from Patrick Mahomes.

What might get lost for those who didn’t watch the first half: the Browns absolutely dominated on the ground. They ran for 153 on 26 carries, good for 5.9 per attempt. Nick Chubb regularly found huge holes and when he didn’t, he often broke tackles for extra yards anyway.

Considering the Browns entered the year with PFF’s top-ranked OL, their early success shouldn’t surprise.

On the other side of the line of scrimmage, PFF expected so little of the Texans DL that they ranked them worst in the league. Certainly, names like Maliek Collins and Vincent Taylor do not inspire great confidence.

This group wasn’t really tested in Week 1 as the offense got the team off to a big start. The Jaguars subsequently aired it out 51 times.

If Cleveland gets up big — the line says they will — look out for this Week 2 matchup. A live bet on Cleveland could pay off if they can still move the ball while killing the clock.

Note that the Browns did lose LT Jedrick Wills Jr. to an injury, which hurts their unit a bit.

Steelers Pass Rush Versus Raiders Offensive Line

The Raiders surprised many with an opening-week comeback win against a Ravens team expected to compete for the Super Bowl.

One of the keys to that victory was the Raiders’ offensive line playing surprisingly competently. They replaced several starters in the offseason and had to face off with a Ravens unit that annually ranks among the leaders in blitz rate.

Sure enough, the Ravens blitzed ninth-most in Week 1. But, it translated into only a middle-of-the-road pressure rate.

Still, warning signs exist going forward. First, the talent level of this line remains uninspiring at best — PFF ranked them 26th coming in. Second, while rookie RT Alex Leatherwood didn’t embarrass himself, he did draw several holding flags.

Finally, injuries continue to mount. Not only will Richie Incognito likely miss another game with a calf strain, but fellow guard Denzelle Good tore his ACL. The Raiders brought in a practice squad player to replace Good.

A date with the Steelers and pass rushing monster TJ Watt presents a huge challenge, particularly on the road. They came as close as you can in 2021 football to shutting down an elite passing offense, harassing Josh Allen throughout their Week 1 upset win.

Expect Derek Carr to face a ton of pressure here.

Packers Receivers Versus Lions Cornerbacks

In the Monday Night Football tilt, the Packers try to rebound from an awful Week 1 showing, but they do get an ideal spot for it against the Lions.

The Saints defense took advantage of a retooled Packers offensive line to completely disrupt the Green Bay passing game. Aaron Rodgers struggled through a career-worst outing, but a far weaker Lions pass rush should leave him more comfortable in the pocket.

Assuming he does have time to throw, things should shape up fairly ideally from there. After the loss of Jeff Okudah to season-ending injury, the Lions list Amani Oruwariye and Ifeatu Melifonwu as their starters at corner now.

The former got beaten like a drum in 2020 while the latter is a rookie. Furthermore, a pair of undrafted rookies represent the depth now.

Davante Adams should eviscerate any corner the Lions can put in front of him. And mistakes against Marquez Valdes-Scantling can turn into 80-yard TDs in a flash.

Yes, the Pack stunk Week 1. But, these guys produced at a level that won Rodgers the MVP. The Packers passing game should have a big day in store.

If you enjoyed these NFL Week 2 matchups, check out more NFL sports betting coverage from TheLines and Mo Nuwwarah.

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Mo Nuwwarah

Mo Nuwwarah got his start in gambling early, making his first sports bet on his beloved Fab Five against the UNC Tar Heels in the 1993 NCAA tournament. He lost $5 to his dad and got back into sports betting years later during a 15-year run in the poker industry. A 2011 journalism graduate from Nebraska-Omaha, he combines those skills with his love of sports and statistics to help bettors make more informed decisions with a focus on pro football, baseball and basketball.

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