Pass Rushes May Feast: Four NFL Mismatches For Week 5

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on October 6, 2021
NFL Week 5 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 to injuries and ongoing team positional turnover. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the NFL Week 5 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 responses 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 5 Matchups And Mismatches To Watch

Ravens Blitzes Vs. Colts Passing Game

The Ravens love to bring the heat. Everyone knows it’s been their M.O. for several years now, and it’s why they’ve shined in some matchups while looking deficient in others. For example, Patrick Mahomes has unsurprisingly eaten them alive during that time frame.

Their strategy has been no different in 2021. According to Pro Football Reference, they rank fifth in blitz rate (32.9%) and it has translated into results as they’ve pressured the opposing QB on 30.6% of dropbacks, third-best in the NFL.

Few if any QBs have seen their performance deteriorate more under pressure than Carson Wentz in recent years. Wentz took an astronomical level of sacks last season en route to getting benched. His 10.3% sack rate led the league. Now with the Colts, he seemingly found himself in a better situation.

However, even if that’s the case, that situation has taken some injury-related hits. Star LG Quenton Nelson has gone to IR, and RT Braden Smith has missed several games in a row now. It’s unknown if he’ll be available for Monday’s game.

A pressure-averse passer on the road with a makeshift line against a blitz-happy Ravens defense could spell major trouble.

Patriots Defense Vs. Texans Offense

This is just a whole massive mismatch on basically every level, and everyone in the world can see it. Hence, the Texans having the lowest team total for the second straight week.

The Texans offense was historically horrendous this past weekend against the Bills. They scored zero points, threw four INTs, gained a hard-to-imagine 2.6 yards per play, and powered the Bills to one of the single most efficient defensive performances in the history of the NFL.

At least they get a reprieve now. They go from the top defense in EPA per play to the…sixth-best defense in EPA per play.

The Patriots have had their struggles this season, but the defensive side of the ball has been consistent and strong. They looked excellent in limiting the Bucs to 19 points on Sunday Night Football.

Furthermore, Bill Belichick has been legendarily stingy against rookie QBs. Against a bad rookie in Davis Mills, his unit should have a field day. He’s also famously astute when it comes to taking away the top opposing pass catcher. The Texans’ only real source of offense the past few weeks has been throwing to Brandin Cooks. You can be sure Belichick will have something prepared to limit Cooks.

It’s hard to see how the Texans can have any success on offense here. You won’t often find QB passing props below 180 yards, but if you check in when player props open, you might find a number lower than you’ve ever seen.

Raiders Pass Rush Vs. Bears Offensive Line

One of the more surprisingly sound units thus far in 2021 has been the Raiders defense. Shredded in 2020, they came out playing competent football immediately and have backed it up in the ensuing weeks.

Maxx Crosby in particular has morphed in a star. His ability to win one-on-one completely changed the game in the opening comeback win over the Ravens. PFF has been a huge fan of his work, grading him at 91.4.

That allows the defensive staff to allocate resources to coverage. The Raiders are in the middle of the pack in pressure rate despite blitzing less often than any team besides Philadelphia.

Even in the loss to the Chargers, the defense allowed just 5.1 yards per play and consistently won third down, forcing LA into 4-of-13 in the high leverage spot.

They get a juicy matchup against the Bears offense, with a vulnerable line and a rookie QB. The Bears rank dead last in adjusted sack rate (12.9%), and the biggest knock on Justin Fields as a prospect was indecisiveness leading to sacks. He hasn’t exactly quelled those concerns after absorbing an incredible nine sacks in his first start, against Cleveland.

Fields posted a big game against Detroit last week. But, if this one looks more like the Cleveland game up front, his coaches must cook something up that alleviates the pressure a little.

Vikings WRs Vs. Lions Corners

The Vikings have not had the best start to the 2021 campaign, sitting at 1-3.

But, it hasn’t been the passing offense’s fault. Kirk Cousins has led the unit to the seventh-best passing DVOA in the league. That includes getting locked up something fierce by the Browns’ ascendant defense in Week 4.

Unfortunately for Cousins and Co., they can’t run the ball, and stopping other teams has proven a struggle as well.

Among NFL Week 5 matchups, it seems none of that will likely matter against the Lions. The market likes the Vikings quite a bit, tabbing them as favorites, and their receivers squaring off with a depleted group of corners could be a factor.

The Lions were likely looking at a rough group of corners in the best of circumstances. Instead, they lost Jeff Okudah and Ifeatu Melifonwu to injury. Remaining starter Amani Oruwariye has been mostly poor. Across from him, the team lists Bobby Price as the starter. A second-year undrafted player, Price played zero snaps last year and cracked 100 for his career only last week.

This defense allowed the previously inept Bears to enjoy more than 10 yards per attempt. How can they possibly slow down Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, to say nothing of the surprisingly useful KJ Osborn?


If you enjoyed these NFL Week 5 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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