Washington Redskins (4-2) at New York Giants (1-6)
At first glance, this seems like an easy one, as the division leading Redskins just have to beat the last place Giants by more than 1 point to cover. However, the Redskins are a little overrated. Their 4-2 record looks impressive, but they have just a +5 point differential, despite a +6 turnover margin, and rank just 22nd in first down rate differential at +2.21%. Turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so they won’t be able to rely on that every week going forward and if they play turnover neutral football the rest of the way it will be noticeable on the scoreboard.
Their defense has been solid, but their offense has been underwhelming, as veteran Alex Smith has regressed back to being a checkdown machine, now that he no longer has the supporting talent or coaching he had in Kansas City. They’ve especially struggled offensively over the past 3 weeks, moving the chains at a mere 30.27% rate over that time period, coinciding with Chris Thompson, Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson, and Josh Doctson all suffering injuries. Crowder remains out, while both Richardson and Thompson are considered 50/50 calls for this one, thinning an already underwhelming receiving corps. They’ll also likely be without starting cornerback Quinton Dunbar.
Earlier in the week, I was thinking of taking the Giants, whose defense has been better since getting Olivier Vernon back from injury and who have just two losses by more than a touchdown, coming against the Saints and Eagles, two of the more talented teams in the league. However, the Giants officially gave up on the season this week, trading productive defensive starters Eli Apple and Damon Harrison for draft picks, and the line didn’t really move to compensate. Given that, I’m taking the Redskins in a game they just need to win to cover, but this isn’t the layup it looks like at first glance because the Redskins’ record doesn’t tell the whole story.
Washington Redskins 19 New York Giants 17
Pick against the spread: Washington -1