Sep 072013

Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) at Washington Redskins (0-0)

When this line opened at -5, it was one of the few lines I really had no idea on. I was just going to take the points because I felt the Redskins were being overrated. They won’t recover a league best 67% of their fumbles again. Robert Griffin won’t have an interception rate of 1.0% again. And while their overall injury situation should be better, especially with the return of Brian Orakpo and Pierre Garcon, Robert Griffin’s injury and how it could change his game can’t be overlooked at all. They also were without a first round pick to add much needed help to their defense.

However, this line shifted to -3.5, through the key number of 4, because the Eagles’ strong pre-season and I don’t think that’s right. The Eagles will have fewer injuries this year, especially on the offensive line, where they return Jason Peterson, Todd Herremans, and Jason Kelce, to go with rookie Lane Johnson to give them essentially 4 new starters on that unit. They’ll also have a better turnover rate than their league worst -24 from a year ago, largely due to a poor fumble recovery rate.

However, their defense figures to still be a mess, even if they do get more takeaways. The foursome of new starters in their secondary isn’t nearly as big of an upgrade as they needed and one of them, safety Kenny Phillips, has already been cut with injury problems. In the front 7, they are changing to a 3-4 scheme that doesn’t fit their personnel, especially top players Brandon Graham, Trent Cole, and DeMeco Ryans. The mediocre Connor Barwin comes in and will see significant snaps at rush linebacker over the superior Cole and Graham.

I like Chip Kelly, but I don’t think he has the personnel to fit his fast paced system. Their offense doesn’t have the personnel to consistently convert 1st downs, which will lead to a lot of quick drives and a lot of field time for a gassed and already overmatched defense. Michael Vick looked great in the pre-season, but I don’t put much stock into that. He’s still 33, injury prone, and predictably declining. He’s more reliant on athleticism than any quarterback of the last decade, so it makes sense that he’d aged like a running back or wide receiver. Once the games really matter and defenses are less vanilla, he’ll struggle and probably turn the ball over a lot. They’ll put up nice fantasy numbers offensively in this scheme, but they won’t win a ton of games. I hate overreacting to the pre-season so I’m switching over to the Redskins on this one, but I’m not confident either way.

Also, one note, I’m changing how I do picks this year. I’ll be grouping my picks into high confidence, medium confidence, low confidence, and no confidence picks. I’ll also have one pick of the week.

Washington Redskins 31 Philadelphia Eagles 27

Pick against spread: Washington -3.5

Confidence: None

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