The NFL is a league of matchups. Being able to identify mismatches in games can help bettors make informed prop bets, fantasy football plays, and even bets on the spread and totals each and every week. This article lays out four NFL Week 7 matchups and mismatches worth keeping an eye on.
There are several games this week projected to be lopsided, highlighted by the Lions at the Rams (), Texans at Cardinals (), and Bears at Buccaneers (). Further breaking down the player-on-player or unit-on-unit matchups can expose serious advantages and disadvantages for players this coming week.
NFL Week 7 Matchups And Mismatches To Watch
Aaron Jones Vs. Washington Football Team Defense
This season, the Washington Football Team has been fine defending the run, allowing 4.0 yards per carry (ninth) and just 27.3% of touchdowns given up this season have been on the ground. That said– Washington has been gouged all season long by receiving backs, giving up a league-high six receiving touchdowns on just 24 completions.
Aaron Jones is tied for the running back lead in receiving touchdowns with four this season on just 21 receptions. In their past three games, Washington is allowing a touchdown on 80% of opposing Red Zone attempts. Jones is fourth among running backs this season with six targets in the Red Zone, three of which resulted in touchdowns.
In his last outing against a team bleeding receptions to the running back, Aaron Jones caught all six of his targets for a trio of touchdowns (Week 2 against Detroit). Jones could have another big receiving day.
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Derrick Henry Vs. Kansas City Chiefs Run Defense
Derrick Henry is averaging 145 yards over his past five games and has found the end zone 10 times. To say he’s on a tear would be an understatement and now he moves onto the NFL’s worst run defense. The Kansas City Chiefs are last in run defense DVOA, last in PFF’s run defense grade, and 30th in yards per rush allowed at 5.2.
Despite likely being without Taylor Lewan, the Titans should be able to run the football. In the second half following Lewan’s injury, Henry rushed for a pair of touchdowns and led the Titans to a come-from-behind victory. According to PFF, the Titans have the second-biggest advantage on the offensive line.
Even when playing from behind– a position that usually spells a negative game script for running backs– the Titans are still league average in rush rate (15th in rush attempts when trailing). All signs point to this being another terrific opportunity for Henry.
Travis Kelce Vs. Rashaan Evans
What happens when you line the league’s best tight end across from a linebacker who lacks in coverage ability? You get this matchup– one that’s very exciting for Travis Kelce. Kelce, who stands 6′ 5″, 260 pounds has a size advantage over Evans (6′ 2″, 231 pounds), who also is PFF’s 82nd-ranked linebacker on the season.
As the closest defender, Evans has allowed a 78.6% completion rate and has no pass breakups on the season. When targeting the receiver nearest Evans, quarterbacks post a 97.0 QB rating on average. Of course, Tennessee will likely bracket and double Kelce rather than leaving Evans on an island all Sunday long.
The Titans haven’t given up gaudy numbers to tight ends yet this season, a product of their defensive secondary giving up the most yards and touchdowns to receivers this season. Andy Reid will certainly scheme Kelce in the slot or out wide (where he lines up 64% of snaps). Kelce has a terrific opportunity this week.
Detroit Lions Interior OL Vs. Aaron Donald
Of all the offensive line-defensive line NFL Week 7 matchups, the Detroit Lions have the biggest disadvantage according to PFF. They lost star center Frank Ragnow– PFF’s top-graded center this year– to toe surgery and neither of their guards grade inside the top 50. As a result, Jared Goff is pressured and sacked the 10th-most on the season (among quarterbacks who have started five or more games).
Not much pretense is needed about Aaron Donald, who’s the top-rated pass rusher among interior defenders this season. Despite being game planned against week in and week out, he’s generated 32 QB pressures, four sacks, and three batted passes. As a former teammate of Goff, Donald’s familiar with his tendencies as well as his limitations.
The final nail in the coffin comes as the Lions placed Quintez Cephus on the IR last week. He was previously the team’s leading receiver in yards per target and touchdowns.
Maybe Donald won’t be the one to fill the stat sheet, but his presence will be known. As highlighted by ESPN’s Seth Walder, Donald elevates all of his teammates; In Week 6 against the Giants, three of Donald’s teammates landed in the top 10 in pass rush win rate.