Washington Redskins at New York Giants: 2014 Week 15 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (3-10) at New York Giants (4-9)

One of the most powerful trends says that teams that finish 6-10 or worse cover the spread as 6+ point favorites about a quarter of the time historically, which makes a lot of sense. The problem with this trend is it’s often very hard to know whether or not a team favored by 6 or more is actually going to finish 6-10 or worse. Here, it’s pretty clear. The Giants sit at 4-9 and would need to win their final 3 games to finish better than 6-10, which seems unlikely as they’d need to pull upsets against the Rams and Eagles in week 16 and week 17 respectively. Despite that, they are favored by a touchdown here.

This line is way too high. Even if I didn’t know about that trend, I’d think this line was off. The Giants rank 18th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving the chains at a 72.56% rate, as opposed to 72.82% for their opponents, a differential of -0.26%. Meanwhile, the Redskins rank 25th, moving the chains at a 70.40% rate, as opposed to 72.44% for their opponents, a differential of -2.04%. On top of that, the Giants haven’t really had much of a homefield advantage over the past decade or so. Since 2004, the Giants are 52-42 on the road, getting outscored by an average of 0.20 points per game, as opposed to 50-40 at home, outscoring opponents by an average of 2.64 points per game. The Giants seem to only be marginally better at home (about 3 points), but the line has never really adapted to compensate.

This isn’t unique to the Giants, as the whole NFC East recently has had less homefield advantage than average recently. At home, the NFC East is 73-85 since 2010, outscoring opponents by an average of0.67 points per game and going 59-96 ATS. On the road, they are 77-80, getting outscored by an average of 2.00 points per game and going 83-72 ATS. As you can imagine, road teams in NFC East divisional games tend to do well, going 25-14 ATS over that time period as divisional road underdogs. We’re getting a significant amount of line value with the Redskins.

Going off of that, the Giants won as 3.5 point underdogs in Washington earlier this season. That puts them in a bad spot this week, as divisional home favorites are 25-49 ATS since 2002 against a divisional opponent that they previously beat as road underdogs during that same regular season. It’s a weird trend and it’s a little complicated, but it makes sense when you think about it. In divisional matchups where the homefield advantage decides who is the favorite, generally those two teams are essentially even. Divisional opponents that are essentially even generally split the season series. That seems to happen even if the road team pulls the upset in the first matchup, as the road underdog wins about half the time (39-38) in the rematch and covers at that aforementioned 2/3rds rate.

The Redskins have had a rough 2 week stretch, losing by a combined score of 73-27, including a 24-0 home loss last week. Teams generally do well off of rough stretches like that. Teams are 41-23 ATS since 2002 off of back-to-back losses by 21 or more and 40-25 ATS since 1989 off of a home game in which they didn’t score any points. It might seem counterintuitive, but it makes sense when you think about it as teams are often overlooked, undervalued, and embarrassed in that spot. I can’t say for sure that they’ll be overlooked or embarrassed, but they probably will be and they’re definitely undervalued, I talked about this earlier.

On top of what I’ve said already, this line was 3.5 a week ago so it moved 3.5 points, which is a huge overreaction. I love fading huge line movements whenever it makes sense and it definitely does here. In spite of that, the public is all over the Giants and I love fading the public whenever it makes sense as they always lose money in the long run, as it makes sense here. The only thing working against the Redskins is the fact that they have another tough game coming up with a home game against the Eagles on deck. Teams are 60-94 ATS since 2012 before being 3+ point home underdogs, including 31-65 ATS before being 4+ point home underdogs. However, the Giants have a tough game in St. Louis on deck as well and there’s just too much stuff in Washington’s favor this week to ignore. They’re my Pick of the Week.

Washington Redskins 20 New York Giants 17 Upset Pick +245

Pick against the spread: Washington +7

Confidence: Pick of the Week

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