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

Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2018 Week 10 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (5-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)

The Redskins are 5-3, but are nowhere close to as good as their record. Their record is boosted by a 3-0 record in games decided by a touchdown or less and a +7 turnover margin, two things that are tough to maintain week-to-week. They’ve also lost at home by double digits to a banged up Colts team and last week to a banged up Falcons team. On the season, they rank 22nd in first down rate differential at -2.42% and are even worse than that suggests because of all the players they are missing with injury.

The Redskins are without their top-2 offensive linemen, left tackle Trent Williams and right guard Brandon Scherff, as well as left guard Shawn Lauvao and possibly right tackle Morgan Moses. They are also missing passing down back Chris Thompson, wide receiver Paul Richardson, and possibly slot receiver Jamison Crowder, who made a limited return to practice this week for the first time since getting injured in week 5. Their defense is healthier by comparison, but starting cornerback Quinton Dunbar is expected to be out, after missing practice all week.

Given all that the Redskins are missing, the Buccaneers are the clearly better team in this game, despite the records. Their defense is horrendous, ranking 31st in first down rate allowed at 43.74%, but their offense ranks only behind the Chiefs, Saints, and Rams in first down rate at 42.34%. Regardless of who has been under center, this offense has been explosive because of all the skill position talent they have and now they have Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been the better of their two quarterbacks this season, under center. They’re a similar team to the Falcons, who the Redskins had a lot of trouble with last week.

The Buccaneers probably won’t win by 24 like the Falcons did, but they should definitely be favored by more than a field goal here at home. I locked this line in early in the week at -2.5, but, even though it’s gone up to 3 in some places, you can still get -2.5 in some places with higher juice. Given that in 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal, -2.5 is a much better line, but the Buccaneers are worth betting at -3 as well.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30 Washington Redskins 24

Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay -2.5

Confidence: High

Atlanta Falcons at Washington Redskins: 2018 Week 9 NFL Pick

Atlanta Falcons (3-4) at Washington Redskins (5-2)

The Redskins were on my overrated list at the beginning of the week, just because I didn’t think their 5-2 record was indicative of how they’ve played. They’ve benefitted from a 3-0 record in games decided by 7 points or less and a +7 turnover margin, but turnover margins are highly inconsistent week-to-week, so they can’t keep relying on that to win them close games, and they rank just 22nd in first down rate differential at -0.91%.

Given that, I was shocked when they opened as mere 1.5-point home favorites over a banged up Falcons team. The Redskins are not as good as their 5-2 record, but they still have a solid team. The Falcons, meanwhile, are incredibly banged up on defense, missing safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen and linebacker Deion Jones, three of their best defensive players from a defense that had the 3rd fewest adjusted games lost to injury in 2017.

As a result, they rank dead last in first down rate allowed, giving up a first down or touchdown on 45.18% of defensive snaps. They’ve allowed 180 first downs and 26 offensive touchdowns through just 7 games, which puts them on pace for 411 first downs and 59 offensive touchdowns allowed on the season, both of which would be the most since the 1981 Baltimore Colts. Their offense has played well, ranking 8th in first down rate at 40.27%, but that’s not enough to keep up with what their defense is allowing (28th in first down rate differential) and they aren’t healthy on that side of the ball either, with running back Devonta Freeman and starting guards Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco out indefinitely.

This line suggests the Falcons are better than a solid Redskins team, but they haven’t shown that in recent weeks, with their only recent wins coming by a combined 8 points against the Buccaneers and Giants. I have the Redskins 4 points better than the Falcons in my rankings right now, suggesting they should be favored by about a touchdown. The Redskins have a big injury with left tackle Trent Williams injured, but backup Ty Nsekhe has played alright in his absence in recent years and the Redskins also get a big mid-week addition with safety HaHa Clinton-Dix coming over in a trade with the Packers, in the middle of arguably the best season of his career. In a game where they basically just need to win to cover, the Redskins are an obvious Pick of the Week choice in a 13-game week.

Washington Redskins 27 Atlanta Falcons 20

Pick against the spread: Washington -1.5

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Washington Redskins at New York Giants: 2018 Week 8 NFL Pick

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

Confidence: None