Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins: 2018 Week 17 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) at Washington Redskins (7-8)

This was the toughest game of the week for me, as I have this line calculated at the exact same line (Philadelphia -7) as the oddsmakers. The Eagles still need help to get into the post-season, but they seem to be energized having their backs up against the wall and playing with a backup quarterback, knocking off of a pair of playoff teams in the Rams and Texans over the past two weeks. They’ve also gotten a boost on defense with the return of linebacker Jordan Hicks from injury and their secondary has kind of sorted itself out despite injuries, with young cornerbacks Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, and Cre’von LeBlanc all exceeding expectations.

The Redskins will be fully motivated for this game though, with an opportunity to get revenge on the team that basically eliminated them from the post-season a few weeks back. Starting quarterback Josh Johnson has his issues for sure, signed off the street a few weeks ago, but he’s an upgrade over fellow street free agent Mark Sanchez. They also have a solid defense and running game and have played much harder since getting embarrassed at home by the Giants a few weeks ago. I’m taking the Eagles and hoping that Josh Johnson screws up late again like he did last week, but a push might be the most likely outcome.

Philadelphia Eagles 20 Washington Redskins 13

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -7

Confidence: None

Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans: 2018 Week 16 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (7-7) at Tennessee Titans (8-6)

The Titans started the season with one of the toughest schedules in the league, going 5-6 across an 11-game stretch in which they faced 9 teams that are currently .500 or better. The schedule has gotten significant easier in the past few weeks though, with games against the Jets, Jaguars, and Giants, and that continues this week against the Redskins. The Redskins are 7-7, but they’re also on their 4th quarterback of the season in Josh Johnson and have injury concerns on both sides of the ball, with left guard Ty Nsekhe, wide receiver Josh Doctson, tight end Vernon Davis, and defensive end Matt Ioannidis all not practicing on Friday and possibly joining a list of unavailable players that includes cornerback Quinton Dunbar, wide receiver Paul Richardson, tight end Jordan Reed, and right guard Brandon Scherff, along with Alex Smith and Colt McCoy, their top-2 quarterbacks.

The Titans have won their previous 3 games during this easy stretch, including back-to-back games in which they won by at least 17 points and won the first down rate battle by at least 12%. Even in a narrow victory against the Jets a few weeks ago, they dominated most of the game, winning the first down rate battle by 18.59% and winning the game despite a pick six and a blocked punt. On the season, they rank 12th in first down rate differential at -1.72%. They could easily continue that this week and win by double digits here at home against the Redskins, but they’re not in nearly as good of a spot as they’ve been in recently.

While their previous easy games were not followed by potential look ahead games on the schedule, the Titans might not bring their best effort this week with a much bigger game against the Colts on deck. Teams are just 19-32 ATS over the past 30 years as 7.5+ point favorites before being home underdogs and just 7-16 ATS as 10+ point favorites. That being said, I have no interest in taking the Redskins this week. Not only are they on their 4th starting quarterback, starting former street free agent Josh Johnson, who has been with the team for about two weeks, but they also seem to have serious locker room issues and gave no effort two weeks ago against the Giants in a home blowout loss.

The Redskins had better effort in an upset win against the lowly Jaguars last week, but they were embarrassed coming off of a blowout and might not bring the same effort again this week, especially with a more intriguing home game against the Eagles on deck. They are 5.5-point underdogs in that game and teams are just 27-54 ATS since 2016 before being home underdogs of 4.5 or more, as big upcoming home games tend to be a distraction to teams. There’s not quite enough here to bet the Titans confidently at 10, but if this drops down to 9.5 I will reconsider, as the Titans should be able to win by double digits.

Tennessee Titans 24 Washington Redskins 10

Pick against the spread: Tennessee -10

Confidence: Low

Washington Redskins at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2018 Week 15 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (6-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9)

The Jaguars are favored here by 7.5 points, despite being 4-9, starting backup quarterback Cody Kessler, and being down four week 1 starting offensive lineman, with only right guard AJ Cann still healthy this week. That’s because the Redskins are starting their 4th quarterback of the year, Josh Johnson, signed off the streets about a week and a half ago. Both of the Redskins’ quarterbacks suffered broken legs, initially forcing street free agent Mark Sanchez into action and now forcing Josh Johnson into action after Sanchez struggled mightily in limited action. The Redskins played better in the 2nd half last week with Johnson in the game, but they had issues beyond quarterback last week, as they did not give a good effort on a short week after having their season ended in Philadelphia on Monday Night Football.

I expect a better effort from the Redskins this week, but it’s really hard to be confident in Josh Johnson on the road after a week and a half on the team. This is Johnson’s first start since the 2011 season. Washington typically has a solid defense and could keep this game close, but the Jaguars’ defense is still one of the best in the league and could easily keep Josh Johnson and the Redskins out of the end zone. I’m taking the Redskins just because of the track record of bad teams as big favorites, but I have no interest taking either side in this one.

Jacksonville Jaguars 16 Washington Redskins 9

Pick against the spread: Washington +7.5

Confidence: None

New York Giants at Washington Redskins: 2018 Week 14 NFL Pick

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

A once promising season for the Redskins seems have to be completely derailed in last week’s loss in Philadelphia. The Redskins are still technically in the NFC East race at 6-6, but they lost their second quarterback in the last month to a broken leg, first Alex Smith and then Colt McCoy last week, and are now starting Mark Sanchez, signed off the streets a few weeks ago. Sanchez is not only a limited quarterback, but he has to have a limited understanding of the offense at this point after just a few weeks, compared to McCoy who has been in the offense for 5 seasons. Sanchez did not look good in relief of McCoy last week, completing 13 of 21 for 100 yards and a pick.

All of that being said, I still don’t understand why this line shifted all the way from Redskins -3 to Giants -3.5, here in Washington. That’s the kind of line movement normally reserved for an injury to an above average starting quarterback, which is certainly not what Colt McCoy is. I also don’t understand what the Giants have done to be favored by this many points on the road against a team that still has a solid defense.

The Giants are just 4-8 with an average margin of victory of 3.75 points per game and no wins by more than 5 points. I’m not too excited about betting on Mark Sanchez, but we’re getting too much line value not to put a small bet on the Redskins this week. They could easily ride their defense and running game to victory at home against a mediocre opponent and I like getting 3.5 points to work with if they come up short.

Update: The Giants surprisingly ruled out Odell Beckham Jr. on Saturday, after he suffered a quad injury in yesterday’s practice. The line shifted from +3.5 to +3, but you could argue it should have shifted even more, as the Giants have been about a touchdown worse per game without Odell Beckham in his career. Colt McCoy getting hurt shifted this line 6.5 points, but Beckham being out only shifts this from 3.5 to 3? I don’t want to make this a higher confidence pick because of Mark Sanchez, but I like the Redskins’ chances of winning straight up now too.

Washington Redskins 16 New York Giants 13 Upset Pick +135

Pick against the spread: Washington +3

Confidence: Medium

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles: 2018 Week 13 NFL Pick

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

The Eagles have had a disappointing season at 5-6, but they’ve been better than their record. Five of their 6 losses have come by a touchdown or fewer, despite the fact that they’ve had one of the worst turnover margins in the league at -8. Turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so the Eagles should have a better turnover margin going forward, which will be noticeable on the scoreboard, even with key players like Jordan Hicks, Ronald Darby, and Rodney McLeod out for the year with injury. In terms of first down rate differential, they rank 11th at +2.11% and have won the first down rate battle in two of their losses. They could easily be about 7-4 right now, in which case I expect they’d be favored by more than a touchdown in this game.

The Eagles have just one win by more than a touchdown all season, but this is one of their easiest games, as the Redskins have a lot of issues, despite a 6-5 record. Their record is largely the product of a +9 turnover margin and a 3-1 record in games decided by a touchdown or less and they rank just 23rd in first down rate differential at -2.94%. They’re even worse than that suggests, as they are missing starting quarterback Alex Smith and stud right guard Brandon Scherff for the season with injury, leaving them to start backup Colt McCoy with a weak offensive supporting cast. Given the talent gap between these two teams, the Eagles should be favored by closer to 10 points this week, so we’re getting some line value with them at -6.

Unfortunately, the Eagles are in a terrible spot, with back-to-back tough divisional games, this game against the Redskins and then next week’s game in Dallas. The Redskins, on the other hand, only host the Giants next week. Underdogs are 90-55 ATS since 2014 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs. On top of that, divisional home favorites are just 18-34 ATS since 2008 before being divisional road underdogs. The Eagles are still the pick for pick ‘em purposes, but I can’t be confident in them this week.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 Washington Redskins 17

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -6

Confidence: None

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys: 2018 Week 12 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (6-4) at Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

A week ago, the Redskins were 5-point underdogs in Dallas on the early line, but the line has since shifted to a full touchdown. The obvious reason for that is the Redskins losing quarterback Alex Smith for the season with a broken leg, but backup Colt McCoy might not be much of a downgrade. Smith was not exactly lighting it up, ranking 22nd among quarterbacks on Pro Football Focus, and backup Colt McCoy is a veteran with years of experience in the system. He also has similar skill set to Smith, as an accurate underneath thrower with mobility to escape the pass rush, but limited deep throwing ability.

The bigger concern for the Redskins’ offense is their lack of talent on the offensive line in the receiving corps. Even with Smith healthy up until the second half of last week’s loss at home to the Texans, the Redskins have only gotten a first down or touchdown on 34.06% of offensive snaps this season, good for 24th in the NFL. On top of that, the supporting cast has recently gotten worse with season ending injuries suffered by de facto #1 receiver Paul Richardson and stud right guard Brandon Scherff.

The Redskins do get talented left tackle Trent Williams back from a 3-game absence this week though and an already solid defense is expected to get starting cornerback Quinton Dunbar back from a 2-game absence as well, so it’s not all bad news on the injury front for the Redskins, even with Smith going down. Given that, this line has shifted a little bit too much, giving us a little bit of line value with the Redskins. The Cowboys are the better team and should win this game at home, but they’re also offensively changed and have just one win by more than a touchdown on the season. There’s not enough here to confidently take the Redskins, but I like their chances of keeping this close.

Dallas Cowboys 23 Washington Redskins 17

Pick against the spread: Washington +7

Confidence: Low

Houston Texans at Washington Redskins: 2018 Week 11 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (6-3) at Washington Redskins (6-3)

These two teams are both 6-3, but the Texans are by far the better team right now. On the season, they have a +32 point differential, as opposed to a +1 point differential for the Redskins. That’s despite the fact that the Redskins have a +11 turnover margin, something they will not be able to count on for the rest of the season, given how unpredictable turnover margin is week-to-week. The Redskins are also in a much worse injury situation, missing starting cornerback Quinton Dunbar, starting wide receivers Paul Richardson and Jamison Crowder, and three starting offensive linemen, including their two best: left tackle Trent Williams and right guard Brandon Scherff.

Two weeks ago, the Redskins had a disastrous home loss to the Falcons and, though they won last week in Tampa Bay, they did not look good in doing it. They only scored one touchdown on the worst scoring defense in the league and, though they held the Buccaneers to 3 points, they allowed 501 yards in doing it, as the Buccaneers missed 2 field goals, committed 4 turnovers, and didn’t score a touchdown in 5 red zone appearances. The Buccaneers won the first down battle 29 to 15 and pushed the Redskins down to 26th in the league on the season in first down rate differential at -3.71%. The Texans, by contrast, rank 9th at +3.06% and are much healthier coming out of the bye.

Unfortunately, we’ve lost all line value with the Texans in the past week, as this line strangely shifted from even on the early line last week to Houston -3 this week, despite the Texans being on bye and the Redskins winning in Tampa Bay. The odds makers probably just realized they originally released a bad line. Even at -3, I still like the Texans, as they’re in a great spot coming out of the bye. Road favorites of 3+ are 48-16 ATS after a bye since 2002, as being away from home does not affect good teams that are rested nearly as much as normal. This is worth a small bet.

Houston Texans 20 Washington Redskins 13

Pick against the spread: Houston -3

Confidence: Medium