Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Chargers: 2017 Week 14 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (5-7) at Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)

The Redskins are only 5-7, but they’ve also faced the 2nd toughest strength of schedule in the NFL thus far. Unfortunately for them, their schedule doesn’t get much easier this week. The Chargers are only 6-6, but they rank 10th in point differential at +56 and 7th in first down rate differential at +4.28%. The Redskins have had some success against top level teams this season though, with wins in Los Angeles against the Rams and in Seattle against the Seahawks and a near win in New Orleans against the Saints.

They lost by 24 in Dallas last week, but that was on a Thursday night and the game was closer than the final score. That loss also puts them in a good spot, as road underdogs tend to cover in their 2nd of two road games off of a loss. Teams are 121-78 ATS in that spot since 2008. That’s because teams typically do better in their second of two road games, as opposed to a single road game sandwiched between two home games, but lines don’t really adjust for that. Teams are 256-274 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.89 points per game, as opposed to 379-523 straight up in a road game that’s sandwiched between two home games, getting outscored by an average of 2.94 points per game, a difference of about 2 points.

On top of that, the Redskins are also in a much better spot than the Chargers because, while the Chargers have a game that could decide the division next week in Kansas City, the Redskins have one of their easier games of the season next week, at home against the Arizona Cardinals. The Redskins are expected to be 6 point favorites in that game, according to the early line, while the Chargers are expected to be 2 point underdogs in Kansas City.

Underdogs are 67-41 ATS since 2014 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs and underdogs of 6+ are 44-33 ATS since 2008 before being favorites of 6+ the following week. Both of those trends are in play here. With a tough upcoming game, the Chargers could overlook the Redskins a little bit, while the Redskins should be completely focused. The Chargers also draw very few home fans in Los Angeles and have very little homefield advantage as a result, so the Redskins have a very good shot to give them a tough game. They are worth a small bet at +6.

Los Angeles Chargers 23 Washington Redskins 20

Pick against the spread: Washington +6

Confidence: Medium

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys: 2017 Week 13 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (5-6) at Dallas Cowboys (5-6)

After a convincing win on Sunday Night Football over the Kansas City Chiefs in week 9, the Cowboys were 5-3 and appeared to be back as a legitimate contender. However, the sky has completely fallen for them in the 3 weeks since then. Running back Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension was reinstated just a few days after the win over Kansas City. Left tackle Tyron Smith then injured his groin in practice. And then they lost linebacker Sean Lee in the first half against Atlanta. The Cowboys ended up losing that game by 20 after jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter and they’ve lost all 3 games overall since that Kansas City game, by a combined 70 points. Making matters even worse, that win over Kansas City no longer looks impressive because the Chiefs have now lost 5 of 6, including losses to the Giants and Bills.

The good news for the Cowboys is that teams tend to bounce back after consecutive blowout losses. Teams are 46-32 ATS since 2002 off of 2+ straight losses by 21 or more. It’s counter-intuitive, but it makes sense, as teams tend to be overlooked, underrated, and embarrassed after getting blown out in back-to-back weeks. I don’t know for sure that Washington will overlook them or that Dallas will play better after being embarassed, but you could definitely argue that they are underrated, as they are coming off of 3 games against teams with top-10 rosters, the Falcons, Eagles, and Chargers. Last week’s loss to the Chargers led to a significant line movement in this game, as the Cowboys have gone from being 3 point favorites on the early line last week to 2 point underdogs this week. That seems like an overreaction, given how talented the Chargers are.

The problem is the Redskins are a little underrated too, as they too have had a tough schedule. Prior to last week’s game against the Giants, the Redskins had the highest opponent win percentage in the league. Their record isn’t great at 5-6, but they beat the Rams (in LA), Raiders, and Seahawks (in Seattle) and came close against the Saints (in New Orleans) and the early season Chiefs (in Kansas City). They were underwhelming against the Giants, but that’s to be expected, as they were on a short week, coming off of a tough overtime loss in New Orleans the week before.

The Redskins also didn’t have left tackle Trent Williams in the lineup and they might have overlooked the Giants a little bit, given that it was their first easy game in weeks. Despite that, the Redskins still covered, winning by 10 as 7.5 point favorites. Now they get Williams back and they should be fresher and more focused on normal rest. Tyron Smith returned for the Cowboys last week, but Elliott still has 3 more games left on his suspension and Sean Lee remains out indefinitely, so I have the Redskins about 1.5 points better in my roster rankings.

The Cowboys also haven’t had much homefield advantage in recent years. Because they tend to attract fans throughout the country, their advantage at home is significantly less and that’s noticeable in the numbers. They are 33-28 on the road since 2010 (35-26 ATS), with a scoring differential of -0.07 per game, as opposed to 31-33 at home (22-42 ATS), with a scoring differential of +0.91 per game. Homefield advantage hasn’t even counted for a half point for them over the past 7 seasons. If the Cowboys were 6 or 7 point underdogs in Washington instead of 2 point underdogs at home, I’d like them a lot more this week.

Given the Cowboys’ lack of homefield advantage and that the Redskins are a more talented team on paper right now, I have this line calculated at even, so we’re getting some line value with the Cowboys, but not enough to be confident in them. I’d need the full field goal to place a bet on Dallas against the spread and I don’t think we’re going to get it. Unless that happens, this is a low confidence pick, though I will place a small bet on Dallas’ moneyline at +110. At the very least, this is a toss up game, probably more like 52/48 Dallas, so we’re getting some value with +110.

Also, by request, I’m going to be posting lines I lock in early in the week during my Thursday Night writeups this season, so readers can lock them in before they move. These are not all my picks for the week, just picks where I think the line may move in an unfavorable direction (usually underdogs). The rest of the writeups will continue to be posted over the weekend as normal.

NYJ +4 vs. KC (I would also take +3.5 and +3)

Dallas Cowboys 24 Washington Redskins 23 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Dallas +2

Confidence: Low

New York Giants at Washington Redskins: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

New York Giants (2-8) at Washington Redskins (4-6)

Both of these teams come into this game in a terrible spot, as both played games that went to overtime last week and the history of teams playing an overtime game on Sunday and then playing again on Thursday is not good. Teams are 3-21 ATS in that spot all-time as long as they are facing an opponent who is not coming off of an overtime game. Unfortunately, because both of these teams are coming off of overtime games, that trend isn’t useful in evaluating this game.

That’s not the only bad spot these teams are in either. The Redskins lost in overtime in New Orleans last week and home teams tend to struggle off of a road overtime loss anyway (43% cover since 1989), while the Giants won at home as double digit underdogs against the Giants and teams also tend to struggle after a big home upset win anyway (44% cover since 1989 after a win as 4+ point home underdogs). The Redskins are coming off of a huge blown 4th quarter lead, while the Giants are coming off of arguably their Super Bowl, so I don’t expect either teams’ best effort on a short week this week, especially since both teams are coming off of overtime games.

Neither team has an easy upcoming matchup either, as the Giants turn around and go to Oakland, while the Redskins turn around and go to Dallas. Underdogs of 6+ are 56-92 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 6+ again, which the Giants likely will be next week (the early line has them -7 in Oakland). Meanwhile, divisional home favorites are 24-62 ATS since 2002 before being divisional road underdogs, which the Redskins likely will be next week (the early line has them -3 in Dallas). I’m taking the Giants because I have this line calculated at 6.5, so we’re getting some line value with them as 7 point underdogs, but it’s not nearly enough for me to be confident at all in them, especially since they’re in a terrible spot.

Washington Redskins 19 New York Giants 13

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +7

Confidence: None

Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints: 2017 Week 11 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (4-5) at New Orleans Saints (7-2)

The Saints emphatically defeated the Bills in Buffalo last week, winning by the final score of 47-10 and winning the first down rate battle by 27.61%. That’s the best single game margin in the NFL this season. They rank 2nd in first down rate differential on the season and 3rd in my roster rankings. One of the best teams in the league, the Saints are a true Super Bowl contender and are a strong candidate to face the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship. However, this could easily be a trap game for the Saints, because, after this game, they head to Los Angeles to take on another 7-2 NFC team, the Rams, a game in which the Saints will likely be underdogs.

The Redskins, meanwhile, get the Giants in Washington next on their schedule, a game in which they should be significant favorites (-8.5 on the early line). Underdogs are 65-40 ATS since 2014 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs. On top of that, underdogs of 7 or more are 63-40 ATS since 1989 before being favorites of 7 or more the following week. That being said, we aren’t getting any line value with the Redskins as 9 point underdogs. I have these two teams about 7.5 points apart in my roster rankings, so the Saints should be favored by at least 10, if not 10.5. If this line moves to 10 before gametime, I will revisit this pick, but for now this is a low confidence pick.

Update: +10 has popped up in some places Sunday morning. Grab it if you can.

New Orleans Saints 30 Washington Redskins 23

Pick against the spread: Washington +10

Confidence: Medium

Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins: 2017 Week 10 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (6-2) at Washington Redskins (4-4)

The Redskins are a solid 4-4 and just beat the Seahawks in Seattle without 4 starting offensive linemen, but they still aren’t getting a ton of respect from the oddsmakers as they are 1.5 point home underdogs against the Vikings. The Redskins could get all 4 offensive linemen back this week, while right tackle Mike Remmers is out for the Vikings, so I have this line calculated at -1.5 in favor of the Redskins. Games decided by less than 3 points are rare so the line value we’re getting isn’t worth that much, but this line suggests the Vikings are 4.5 points better and that they would be about 7 or 7.5 point favorites if this game was in Minnesota. I like the Vikings, as they rank 10th in my roster rankings, but I think that’s a little off. The Redskins are only a low confidence pick, but the money line at +105 makes some sense for a small bet.

Washington Redskins 19 Minnesota Vikings 17 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Washington +1.5

Confidence: Low

Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks: 2017 Week 9 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (3-4) at Seattle Seahawks (5-2)

The Seahawks have to play again 4 days after this game as they are on Thursday Night Football in week 10. Favorites typically do not do well before Thursday Night Football, going 60-92 ATS since 2008 in that spot. There are two big problems with betting against Seattle this week though. The first is that the Seahawks are only facing the Cardinals next week, so it’s not like they have a tough upcoming matchup on the short week. The early line has the Seahawks favored by a touchdown in Arizona. Teams are 73-54 ATS since 2012 before being road favorites of 5 or more. On top of that, favorites of 6+ like the Seahawks are this week are 103-63 ATS since 2012 before being favored by 6+ again the following week.

The second problem is that the Redskins come in here incredibly banged up and I don’t know if this line fully takes that into account. They’ll be without left tackle Trent Williams, left guard Shawn Lauvao, center Spencer Long, wide receiver Jamison Crowder, tight end Jordan Reed, defensive end Matt Ioannidis, middle linebacker Mason Foster, and defensive end Jonathan Allen, a whopping nine week 1 starters. On top of that, they could also be without cornerback Bashaud Breeland and right guard Brandon Scherff, another two week 1 starters.

The Seahawks have injury problems of their own with left guard Luke Joeckel, running back Chris Carson, defensive end Cliff Avril, and safety Earl Thomas out and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson expected to be gametime calls. Their injury situation still is significantly better than Washington’s though and this line isn’t high enough at 7.5 to confidently bet on the Redskins unless Scherff plays for Washington and Wagner does not for Seattle. If that happens, I’ll revisit this pick in the morning, but, for now, this is a low confidence pick.

Seattle Seahawks 24 Washington Redskins 17

Pick against the spread: Washington +7.5

Confidence: Low

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins: 2017 Week 8 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (3-3) at Washington Redskins (3-3)

When both are at full strength, these two teams are pretty evenly matched, but the Redskins are dealing with a number of injuries going into this game, while the Cowboys are as healthy as they’ve been all season. The Redskins get Josh Norman back from a 2-game absence this week, but will be without center Spencer Long, while left tackle Trent Williams, right guard Brandon Scherff, and right tackle Morgan Moses are all considered truly questionable. Williams hasn’t practiced in weeks and has not been playing at 100% because he needs knee surgery. Scherff didn’t practice all week after injuring his knee on Monday against the Eagles and is likely on the doubtful side of questionable. Moses is the only one who practiced this week, but he is far from a lock to play after injuring both of his ankles on Monday night.

When healthy, the Redskins’ offensive line is the strength of this team and on par with the Cowboys’ strong offensive line, so those are huge injuries to be dealing with. On top of that, the Cowboys are a great road team because they have fans across the country. They are 32-27 on the road since 2010 (30-21 ATS), outscoring opponents by an average of 0.03 points per game, as opposed to 30-31 at home (21-29 ATS), outscoring opponents by an average of 1.59 points per game. Going on the road only hurts them about a point or so and they’re about 2 points better than the Redskins in my roster rankings right now. Unfortunately, this line isn’t great at Dallas -2. The Cowboys have a good chance to win this game by a field goal or so, but there isn’t enough here to be confident in them at all.

Dallas Cowboys 27 Washington Redskins 24

Pick against the spread: Dallas -2

Confidence: None