New York Giants at Washington Redskins: 2016 Week 17 NFL Pick

New York Giants (10-5) at Washington Redskins (8-6-1)

I typically don’t like to bet on teams that are expected to rest their starters, but I’m making an exception here because, even though this line suggests the Giants are going to rest their starters and they don’t have anything to play for locked into the 5th seed, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said that the Giants plan to play to win this game, suggesting they won’t be resting their starters. That makes some sense because, after last week’s loss in Philadelphia, the Giants might not want to head into the post-season on a 2-game losing streak with no momentum to speak of.

Perhaps the oddsmakers know something I don’t about McAdoo’s plans that hasn’t been revealed publicly, as they have the Giants as 7.5 point road underdogs in Washington, but I would have had this line as a pick ‘em in normal circumstances so we get more than a touchdown to work with if the Giants do surprisingly pull the starters at halftime or something. The Giants have been the better team this year (9th in first down rate differential vs. 23rd) and they’re in a revenge game after losing at home as favorites to the Redskins earlier this year.

Comparable divisional rivals tend to split the season series, even if the road team pulls the upset in the first game. Divisional road underdogs are 61-35 ATS since 2002 in same season divisional revenge games against an opponent that previously beat them as home favorites and they also pull the upset and win straight up about half the time. If the Giants play their starters all game, they could easily pull the upset and I think it’s worth betting on them as 7.5 point underdogs given Ben McAdoo’s comments this week.

Washington Redskins 23 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +7.5

Confidence: Medium

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Washington Redskins at Chicago Bears: 2016 Week 16 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (7-6-1) at Chicago Bears (3-11)

The Bears narrowly lost at home last week to the Packers, but they were impressive even in defeat. They won the first down battle 29-20 and the first down rate battle by 11.14% and only lost on a last second field goal because they lost the turnover battle by 4. Fortunately, turnover margins tend to be very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. In fact, teams that lose the turnover battle by 4, on average, have a turnover margin of +0.1 the following week. As a result, those teams cover the spread at a 53.1% rate, including 57.7% as home underdogs, as the Bears are here.

The Bears have been impressive in defeat most of the year actually, as they enter this game 14th in first down rate differential, despite a 3-11 record. Six of their last eight losses have come by 6 points or fewer. At home, the Bears are 3-4 with a +8 point differential and just one loss by more than 6 points (back in week 2). They’ve had a lot of injuries, but are still playing pretty well. Last week, their offense got a boost when top receiver Alshon Jeffery returned from his 4-game suspension. This week, their defense gets a boost with top linebacker Jerrell Freeman returning from a 4-game suspension.

The Redskins, meanwhile, have just 2 wins by more than a touchdown all year and one was at home against the Browns in a game in which they lost the first down battle 26 to 24. They enter this game 19th in first down rate differential, actually a few spots below the Bears, despite having a better record, and are coming off of a home loss to the underdog Carolina Panthers. They’re also without tight end Jordan Reed, their best offensive play maker. We’re getting great value with the Bears as 3.5 point home underdogs, especially since 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less. On top of that, the Bears’ close home loss to the Packers last week puts them in a good spot this week, as teams are 75-56 ATS since 2002 as home underdogs after a loss as home underdogs. I like the Bears a lot this week, not just to cover the 3.5 point spread, but also to win straight up.

Chicago Bears 24 Washington Redskins 23 Upset Pick +145

Pick against the spread: Chicago +3.5

Confidence: High

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Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins: 2016 Week 15 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (5-8) at Washington Redskins (7-5-1)

This line has shifted from 4 on the early line to 6.5 in the past week, which I think gives us decent value with the Panthers. The Panthers are 5-8 and incredibly banged up on the offensive line, but 5 of their 8 losses have come by 3 points or fewer and they are expected to get middle linebacker Luke Kuechly back from a 3-game absence after he was cleared to return from his concussion. The Redskins, meanwhile, have just 2 wins by more than a touchdown all year and one was at home against the Browns in a game in which they lost the first down battle 26 to 24. I can’t be confident in the Panthers with Kuechly’s status still somewhat up in the air, but I may revisit this on Monday if it becomes clear that he’s going to play and this line doesn’t move.

Washington Redskins 24 Carolina Panthers 19

Pick against the spread: Carolina +6.5

Confidence: None

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Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (6-5-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

The Eagles got blown out last week in Cincinnati and have been unimpressive offensively since losing stud right tackle Lane Johnson to suspension, but they still have a strong defense and they get their top-2 skill position players, wide receiver Jordan Matthews and running back Ryan Mathews, back from injury this week. They are at least as good as their opponents this week, the Washington Redskins. The Eagles have an advantage in point differential (+23 vs. +8) and in first down rate differential (20th vs. 24th). Despite that, the Eagles are 2.5 point home underdogs and the public is all over the Redskins, as a result of the Redskins’ better record (6-5-1 vs. 5-7). I love fading the public whenever it makes sense and it definitely does here, as the Eagles should be favored by a field goal. I’d need the full field goal with the Eagles to put money on the spread, but the money line is a good value either way.

Philadelphia Eagles 26 Washington Redskins 24 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia +2.5

Confidence: Low

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Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals: 2016 Week 13 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (6-4-1) at Arizona Cardinals (4-6-1)

I’ve lost money on the Cardinals in back-to-back weeks, but their price keeps dropping, so I’m going to keep buying. As a result of Arizona’s big loss in Atlanta last week, this line has dropped from 3.5 last week on the early line to 2.5 this week, a significant drop considering about 1 in 6 games are decided by a field goal exactly. Last week’s loss in Atlanta was legitimate, but the previous week they lost by 6 in Minnesota because the Vikings had two 100+ yard return touchdowns, the first team to do that in a single game in 50 years. Those two plays resulted in at least a 17 point swing for the Vikings.

Despite their 4-6-1 record, last week was actually just the second time this season the Cardinals lost the first down rate battle and they could easily be 8-3 right now as they could have beaten New England, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Minnesota if one or two fluky things had gone their way (missed field goal against New England, punt return against Rams, blocked punt against Seattle, pick six against Minnesota). The Cardinals actually still rank 1st in first down rate differential, despite last week’s ugly loss in Atlanta. They ranked 1st in that metric last year as well.

The Redskins, meanwhile, rank 23rd in that metric thanks to a defense that is allowing the highest first down rate in the NFL. If this line had stayed at 3.5, I wouldn’t be confident in the Cardinals, but I think the price dropped appropriately for Arizona’s loss to the Falcons and I think we’re still getting good value with the Cardinals as a result. The Cardinals will be without Tyrann Mathieu this week because of injury, a huge loss for this defense, but the Redskins will be without tight end Jordan Reed, an equally big loss for Washington’s offense. As long as this line is under a field goal, I’d put money on the Cardinals again this week.

Arizona Cardinals 23 Washington Redskins 17

Pick against the spread: Arizona -2.5

Confidence: Medium

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Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys: 2016 Week 12 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (6-3-1) at Dallas Cowboys (9-1)

I mentioned this in my Minnesota/Detroit pick as well. Divisional road underdogs are 60-33 ATS since 2002 in same season divisional revenge games against an opponent that previously beat them as home favorites. Division rivals know each other well, so it makes sense that comparable teams tend to split the season series, even if the road team pulls the upset in the first game. The Cowboys and Redskins are not as comparable as Detroit and Minnesota are, as the Cowboys are an obviously better team, but that trend is still somewhat relevant here, especially since the Cowboys haven’t had much homefield advantage in recent years.

The Cowboys are 31-21 ATS on the road since 2010, which is impressive, but just 19-34 ATS at home over the same time period, including 11-26 ATS as home favorites. Over that time period, they’ve been outscored opponents by 0.02 points per game on the road and outscored opponents by an average of 1.13 points per game at home, meaning home field advantage hasn’t even been worth a point for them in recent years. That makes sense, as the Cowboys have fans throughout the country and get great support on the road.

They’re 4-1 ATS at home this year, but that’s because they’ve been underrated all season. Besides, their covers against Baltimore and Philadelphia could have gone either way, as both games were closer than the final score suggested. The Cowboys aren’t underrated anymore and might actually be a little bit overrated here, as much of their success can be attributed to how much support they get from road crowds. The Redskins are a quality opponent that the Cowboys only beat by 3 in Washington earlier this year. They might not win by much more here this week. There’s not enough here for me to put any money on it, but I like the points in what should be a close divisional matchup.

Dallas Cowboys 31 Washington Redskins 27

Pick against the spread: Washington +6.5

Confidence: Low

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Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins: 2016 Week 11 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (4-5) at Washington Redskins (5-3-1)

The common narrative is that the sky is falling for the Packers right now, following 3 straight losses and a 47-25 thrashing in Tennessee last week. However, their loss in Atlanta came by 1 point, on the road, against one of the better teams in the league. Their home loss to the Colts was largely as a result of long returns by the Colts on special teams. Last week’s loss was obviously bad, but the Titans are much better than people realize. The Titans were my Pick of the Week as 3 point home underdogs against the Packers last week. I obviously didn’t see them blowing them out, but I think that game is more evidence that the Titans are for real than evidence that the Packers are done.

The Packers are far from the team they once were, but 3 of their 5 losses were very winnable, while all 4 of their wins came with relative ease. They enter this game 12th in first down rate differential, but this line suggests they are even with the Redskins, as Washington is 3 point home favorites. That’s far from the case, considering the Redskins enter this game 24th in first down rate differential and are without stud left tackle Trent Williams with suspension. The Redskins’ only win by more than a touchdown came at home against the Browns, a game in which they didn’t even play that well, allowing 26 first downs. The Redskins are also in a tough spot because they have to turn around and go to Dallas on a short week for their Thanksgiving game. Favorites are just 50-82 ATS since 2008 before Thursday Night Football. They might not be 100% focused for this game, while the Packers should be as they kind of need a win to save their season. Aaron Rodgers is typically very good off of a loss, going 27-15 ATS off of a loss in his career. I like the Packers a lot as field goal underdogs and would take them at 2.5 as well.

Green Bay Packers 31 Washington Redskins 27 Upset Pick +120

Pick against the spread: Green Bay +3

Confidence: High

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