Washington Redskins at New York Giants: 2017 Week 17 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (7-8) at New York Giants (2-13)

The Redskins got off to a disappointing 5-8 start, but that was largely the result of a tough schedule, as they had the toughest schedule in the league through 13 games. Their schedule has gotten a lot easier over the past few weeks and they have gotten better results because of that, as they have beaten the Cardinals and Broncos in Washington by scores of 20-15 and 27-11 in the past two weeks, covering the spread in both games.

This week, they are 3-point road favorites in New York against the Giants, who have the 2nd worst record in the league at 2-13. Making matters even worse for the Giants, they enter this game very banged up, as safety Landon Collins, tight end Evan Engram, and wide receiver Sterling Shepard have all gone down in the last week. The Giants struggled mightily on the road in Arizona last week in a 23-0 loss, especially struggling after those players went down with injuries.

The Redskins have a good chance to cover this spread, but I’m not that confident in them because they aren’t healthy either, losing left tackle Trent Williams, center Spencer Long, running backs Rob Kelley and Christian Thompson, wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, tight end Jordan Reed, defensive end Jonathan Allen, middle linebackers Zach Brown and Mason Foster, and safety Montae Nicholson since the start of the season. If this was earlier in the season when the Redskins were competitive with teams like the Seahawks, Saints, Rams, Chiefs, and Vikings, I would take the Redskins in a heartbeat, but I only have this line calculated at Washington -4 because of the Redskins’ injury situation, so this is just a low confidence pick.

Washington Redskins 24 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: Washington -3

Confidence: Low

Denver Broncos at Washington Redskins: 2017 Week 16 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (5-9) at Washington Redskins (6-8)

The Redskins have had a tough year. Up until last week, they had the toughest schedule in the NFL in terms of opponent’s strength of schedule. Over the final 3 weeks of the season, they have one of the easiest schedules in the league, starting with a home game against the Blaine Gabbert led Cardinals last week, but they are completely out of the playoff race right now and also incredibly banged up, losing left tackle Trent Williams, center Spencer Long, running backs Rob Kelley and Christian Thompson, wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, tight end Jordan Reed, defensive end Jonathan Allen, middle linebackers Zach Brown and Mason Foster, and safety Montae Nicholson since the start of the season.

This week, the Redskins face the 5-9 Broncos, but the Broncos have been a little better than their record suggests, as they rank 23rd in first down rate differential at -1.38%. Their issue has been that they have the league’s 2nd worst turnover margin at -15, only better than the Browns, but turnover margin tends to be unpredictable on a week-to-week basis, so the Broncos could easily play turnover neutral football to close out their season. The Broncos’ quarterback situation is so bad that they will probably continue throwing interceptions at a higher than average rate, but their talented defense (4th in first down rate allowed) only has 13 takeaways through 14 games, which could definitely improve in the final 2 weeks of the season.

Given that and the state of the Redskins’ roster with all of their injuries, I have these two teams about even. That suggests this line should be about 3 in favor of the hometown Redskins, so we are getting a little bit of line value with the Broncos, as long as this line stays at 3.5. About 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal, so getting the full 3.5 is key. At Washington -3, I might take the Redskins, though this is a no confidence pick either way.

Sunday update: The Broncos ruled out both Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer on Sunday morning. Despite that, this line has dropped to 3. I’m changing my pick to Washington, but this is still a no confidence pick.

Washington Redskins 20 Denver Broncos 16

Pick against the spread: Washington -3

Confidence: None

Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins: 2017 Week 15 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (6-7) at Washington Redskins (5-8)

The Redskins have fallen to 5-8 after a big 30-13 loss in Los Angeles against the Chargers last week, while the Cardinals snuck out a 12-7 home victory over the skidding Titans to improve to 6-7. As a result, this line shifted from Washington -6 to -4, a significant line movement, considering about 15% of games are decided by 4-6 points. Typically I love going against significant week-to-week line movements, as they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play. This time is no exception.

The Redskins looked bad against the Chargers last week, but the Chargers are a legitimately good team, so I don’t hold that against them too much. The Redskins have looked a lot better against other legitimately good teams this season, beating the Seahawks and Rams and coming close against the Saints. In fact, they’ve had the toughest schedule in the NFL so far this season, so their 5-8 record doesn’t look so bad all things considered. The good news for them is they close out the season with arguably the easiest schedule in the league, facing the Cardinals, Broncos, and Giants.

This home game against the Cardinals is arguably their 3rd easiest game of the entire season, outside of home games against the 49ers and Giants. The Cardinals have been destroyed by injury this season, particularly on offense, where they are without quarterback Carson Palmer, running back David Johnson, wide receiver John Brown, and 4 of their 5 starting offensive linemen from week 1. On defense, they are without safety Tyvon Branch and outside linebacker Markus Golden, two above average starters.

They’ve won 3 games since losing Carson Palmer in a week 7 blowout loss in London to the Rams (33-0), but one of them came in San Francisco against a 49ers team that was winless at the time and the other two came in close fashion at home against the Titans and Jaguars, in games in which the Cardinals won despite losing the first down battle. They’ve also lost at home to the Seahawks and Rams and even lost by 10 in Houston to Tom Savage. They haven’t been very good on the road in general this season, going 1-5 ATS away from home. On top of that, they could be a little flat after a big home victory last week. Teams only cover the spread at a 45% off of a home upset victory. I like the Redskins a good amount this week.

Washington Redskins 24 Arizona Cardinals 16

Pick against the spread: Washington -4

Confidence: High

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