Washington Football Team at New York Giants: 2021 Week 18 NFL Pick

Washington Football Team (6-10) at New York Giants (4-12)

Giants fans thought things were bad with Daniel Jones, but he proved to be the one thing keeping this team somewhat competitive, as the Giants have not been competitive in any of the five straight games they have lost since he went down, losses that have come by an average of 18.4 points per game. However, they haven’t had the easiest schedule over that stretch (Dolphins, Chargers, Cowboys, Eagles, Bears) and this week’s game is probably their easiest game, with a home game against Washington on the schedule.

Washington is just 6-10 and they are arguably even worse than their record, going 5-4 in one score games and ranking just 26th in point differential at -114. Despite that, they are favored by seven points here on the road, a margin of victory they have achieved or surpassed just once all season and never on the road. As bad as the Giants are, they are a little healthier than they have been in recent weeks and Washington is not good enough to be favored by a touchdown on the road against anyone. I don’t want to make this a big play, but my calculated line has Washington favored by just 1.5 points, so there is just too much value here with the Giants to ignore, even if their quarterback situation is horrendous.

Washington Football Team 19 New York Giants 17

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +7

Confidence: Medium

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team: 2021 Week 17 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) at Washington Football Team (6-9)

Many wrote the Eagles off when they started 3-6, but they were a lot better than their record suggested, having faced one of the toughest schedules in the league, while dealing with key injuries on the offensive line and still managing a positive point differential. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the Eagles have climbed right back into the playoff picture at 8-7 as their schedule has gotten easier and the team has gotten healthier in recent weeks. 

Despite their recent strong stretch, the Eagles still remain a better team than their record suggests, as their wins have come by an average of 18.0 points per game, while their losses have come by an average of 9.1 points per game, giving them a point differential of +80, 10th best in the NFL. One of their recent wins was against Washington a couple weeks ago and they will face them again this week. The Eagles only won by 10 in the first matchup in Philadelphia and now will play in Washington, but the Eagles dominated in the first down rate (+7.40%) and yards per play battle (3.03), winning the game despite losing the turnover battle by two, which is not nearly as predictive of a metric as first down rate and yards per play. 

Washington was missing their top two quarterbacks (Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen, their top offensive lineman (Brandon Scherff), and their top two defensive backs (Kamren Curl and Kendall Fuller) in the first matchup and they will all be available in this game, but they still have a shaky situation at quarterback and they still are not healthy around the quarterback, missing their two best running backs (Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic), a trio of starting offensive lineman (Ereck Flowers, Chase Rouiller, Samuel Cosmi), their top edge defender Chase Young, and a pair of starters in the secondary in William Jackson and Landon Collins. Rouiller, McKissic, and Young were out in the first matchup as well, but Washington still isn’t that much healthier than they were in the first matchup.

Washington was blown out last week in Dallas, losing by 42 points, which normally puts a team in a good spot, as teams cover at a 56.1% rate after a loss by 35 points or more, but that tends to be because a team is undervalued after one bad week. In this scenario, the line only shifted from favoring the Eagles by a field goal on the early line last week to favoring them by 4.5 this week, despite Washington’s blowout loss and the losses they have had at running back and on the offensive line since last week (Flowers, Cosmi, Gibson). The line was too low at a field goal on the early line and is still too low at 4.5. Washington ranks 22nd in schedule adjusted mixed efficiency and are far from 100%, while the much healthier Eagles rank 7th and have blown out almost every below average team they have faced

The Eagles are 8-1 against losing teams with seven multiscore wins, with their only loss coming in a game in which they still won the first down rate battle and yards per play battle in New York against the Giants with a banged up Jalen Hurts throwing three of the nine interceptions he has thrown this season. My calculated line has the Eagles favored by eight points, so we’re getting great value with the Eagles. I want to make sure there are no unexpected COVID positives for the Eagles before locking this game in, but I will almost definitely be placing a bet on the Eagles at -4.5 this week.

Update: Nothing unexpected has happened here, other than this line moving to 4. At that number, I like the Eagles even more and I am confident making this a bigger play. Like most of their other games against sub-.500 opponents, the Eagles should win with relative ease against a relatively short-handed Washington team.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 Washington Football Team 16

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -4

Confidence: High

Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys: 2021 Week 16 NFL Pick

Washington Football Team (6-8) at Dallas Cowboys (10-4)

This is one of the toughest calls of the week for me, as my calculated line is exactly where this line is, favoring the Cowboys by 10 at home over Washington. I can’t find an angle to favor either side in this game, although it’s possible that could change before gametime, given the ever-changing nature of teams’ COVID lists, but for now, it’s very hard to pick a side. I’m taking Washington purely to fade the public and because this is a slightly more meaningful game for them, as their season would be over with a loss, but this is my lowest confidence pick and a push is a strong possibility.

Dallas Cowboys 27 Washington Football Team 17

Pick against the spread: Washington +10

Confidence: None

Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles: 2021 Week 15 NFL Pick

Washington Football Team (6-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

Earlier this week, the Eagles were 4-point home favorites in this game and I was strongly considering placing a bet on them. Both teams are 6-7, but the Eagles have a much better point differential at +46 (12th in the NFL), as opposed to -58 for Washington (24th in the NFL), as Washington has benefited from a 5-3 record in one-score games, while the Eagles are 1-4, with five of their six wins coming by double digits. Since the start of the week, Washington has had a COVID outbreak big enough to reschedule this game, including the potential absence of their top two quarterbacks, among other key players, but this line has only jumped to 6.5 for this rescheduled game on Tuesday night, which is barely enough of an adjustment for the non-quarterbacks who are missing this game for Washington.

That line suggests that Washington is expected to be healthier than currently expected, but that is still a big if at this point and, even if expected starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke is able to play, my calculated line is still Philadelphia -7, so we’re getting line value with them regardless. If both Heinicke and backup Kyle Allen are out, as well as top offensive lineman Brandon Scherff and two of their best defensive players, safety Kamren Curl and cornerback Kendall Fuller, my calculated line would favor the Eagles by 10, which would give us significant line value.

The Eagles haven’t been totally immune to losing players to COVID protocols and will be without starting guard Landon Dickerson, but their offensive line is still healthier than they have been for a lot of the season, while their defense is as healthy as they’ve been in weeks. The Eagles rank 10th, 15th, 17th, and 9th respectively in offensive, defensive, special teams, and mixed efficiency and are arguably better than that in their current state, while Washington is currently expected to start a third string quarterback and be without several key players. This is likely to be the Eagles’ six double digit win (and Washington’s fifth double digit loss), so I want to lock this in at +6.5 before the line increases to a touchdown or higher.

Philadelphia Eagles 27 Washington Football Team 17

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -6.5

Confidence: Medium

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Football Team: 2021 Week 14 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (8-4) at Washington Football Team (6-6)

The Cowboys have slowed down since their 6-1 start, falling to 8-4 after losing three of their last five games, but their big problem has really just been that they haven’t been healthy, most notably missing their top two edge defenders DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory and their top two wide receivers Amari Cooper and Ceedee Lamb, and all four of those players will play this week. Given that, the Cowboys are well positioned to continue their winning ways going forward.

In addition to those four players, the Cowboys also have other key players who missed time and have since returned, like right guard Zack Martin, right tackle La’El Collins, left tackle Tyron Smith, wide receiver Michael Gallup, and, of course, quarterback Dak Prescott. In fact, this game will be the first time all season that the Cowboys will have all nine of the aforementioned players available. As healthy as they’ve been all year, the Cowboys have one of the best rosters in the NFL and should be one of the top contenders going forward if they can avoid further injuries.

Washington, meanwhile, has won four straight games since a 2-6 start, but many of their wins have been close, as they have gone 5-2 in one score games and have a -51 point differential that ranks just 25th in the NFL, as opposed to a 6th rank +86 point differential for the Cowboys, despite all of their key players who have missed time. Washington has faced one of the toughest schedules in the NFL, but Dallas isn’t far behind them, having also faced a tough schedule.

My calculated line says the Cowboys should be favored by more than a touchdown in this game, so we’re getting a lot of value with them as just 4-point favorites, enough for them to be my Pick of the Week. In hindsight, I liked Minnesota on Thursday more than I like Dallas, but I didn’t want to make a Pick of the Week on Thursday before I got to review every game and, of the Sunday/Monday picks, Dallas is my favorite play.

Dallas Cowboys 31 Washington Football Team 23

Pick against the spread: Dallas -4

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Washington Football Team at Las Vegas Raiders: 2021 Week 13 NFL Pick

Washington Football Team (5-6) at Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)

Washington has won three straight games to get their record up to 5-6, despite the fact that they have faced one of the toughest schedules in the league this season. However, there is more reason for concern with this team this week than there has been in recent weeks, as their three game winning streak has been largely the result of them finally having their offensive line healthy and playing well, which is no longer the case.

In this game in Las Vegas, Washington will be without their starting center and possibly their starting left guard, with all of their capable reserves also out with injury, which could leave them with two big holes upfront. Washington doesn’t have enough skill position talent to compensate for poor offensive line play and their defense isn’t good enough to compensate for their offense not playing well, especially with their two talented edge defenders Chase Young and Montez Sweat both out.

The Raiders have an injury concern as well, as tight end Darren Waller is expected to be out, leaving their offense without by far their best offensive playmaker, which especially hurts since they already lost top wide receiver Henry Ruggs for off-the-field reasons. However, I feel like this line takes into account the Raiders’ injuries much more than Washington’s, even though Washington is missing more key players. This line favors the Raiders by just 1-point, but as the slightly better team and the home team, the Raiders should be favored by at least a field goal. This is a small play, but I like the Raiders in a game in which they basically just have to win in order to cover the spread.

Las Vegas Raiders 20 Washington Football Team 17

Pick against the spread: Las Vegas -1

Confidence: Medium

Seattle Seahawks at Washington Football Team: 2021 Week 12 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (3-7) at Washington Football Team (4-6)

Washington started the season 2-6, but they have been better in recent weeks since their offensive line has gotten healthy, particularly the re-addition of stud right guard Brandon Scherff. They have won their past two games to push their record to 4-6, which is still not all that impressive, but it’s more impressive when you consider that they have faced arguably the toughest schedule in the league. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency ratings, Washington ranks 9th, 28th, and 3rd on offense, defense, and special teams respectively, while ranking 13th in mixed efficiency. 

Unfortunately, the public and odds makers seem to have caught onto this, as we have lost a significant amount of line value in the past week, with the Seahawks going from being favored by 3.5 points on the early line last week to now being underdogs of one point. Seattle is missing a key starting offensive lineman with Damien Lewis out and, with that taken into account, my calculated line has Washington favored by 1.5 points, so we are still getting some line value with Washington, but it’s a miniscule amount. In fact, I am going to pick the Seahawks in this matchup just because I don’t want to go against Russell Wilson (31-14-3 ATS off of a loss and 10-1 ATS off of two straight losses) in a must win situation. This is a no confidence pick though, as a push may be the most likely result though and this should be a very close matchup.

Washington Football Team 24 Seattle Seahawks 23

Pick against the spread: Seattle +1

Confidence: None

Washington Football Team at Carolina Panthers: 2021 Week 11 NFL Pick

Washington Football Team (3-6) at Carolina Panthers (5-5)

SInce cutting Cam Newton at the start of the 2020 off-season, the Panthers have paid Teddy Bridgewater 31 million for one season of decent play, before salary dumping him on the Broncos in a trade that netted Carolina just a sixth round pick. The Panthers then sent a second round pick to the Jets for Sam Darnold and guaranteed his 18.858 million dollar option for 2022, effectively locking him into a fully guaranteed 2-year, 23.63 million dollar deal, after already giving up a premium pick to acquire him. 

They passed on both Justin Fields and Mac Jones in the draft and entered the season with just Darnold and inexperienced PJ Walker under center. Because of that, when Darnold somewhat predictably struggled and eventually got hurt, the Panthers had to turn to a street free agent at quarterback. It just so happens that street free agent is Cam Newton, their original starting quarterback, who was available after a failed one-year stint as the starter in New England. It’s embarrassing for the Panthers that they committed all these resources to replace Newton only to end up with him anyway and Newton is definitely not the quarterback he was in his prime, but he was also their best option and it wouldn’t be hard for him to be an upgrade for the Panthers.

If he can be that upgrade, even if only by default, the Panthers all of a sudden become a solid team. They’re 5-5 despite their horrendous quarterback play, led by a defense that ranks 2nd in schedule adjusted efficiency on the season and that has been even better since getting cornerback Stephon Gilmore and linebacker Shaq Thompson, two of the best players in the league at their respective positions, back from injury. They rank 31st in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency, but I would expect that to improve going forward, not only because of the addition of Newton, but also because of the recent return of stud feature back Christian McCaffrey from injury.

Unfortunately, we’re not really getting line value with the Panthers, as this line has shifted from favoring the Panthers by two points last week on the early line to favoring them by three points this week, a more significant shift than it seems, given that about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. If Newton hadn’t just arrived a week and a half ago and was more familiar with the system, we would still be getting line value with the Panthers at three, but Newton isn’t even expected to play the whole game, meaning the overmatched PJ Walker will likely continue seeing some action.

That line movement happened despite the fact that Washington pulled a huge upset over the Buccaneers last week, a much more surprising upset than the Panthers’ win over the Cardinals and their backup quarterback Colt McCoy. Normally teams are a bad bet after a huge home upset victory, as teams have covered at just a 40.9% rate all-time after winning as home underdogs of 5 or more (Washington was +9.5 last week), but that’s mostly due to teams being overvalued or overconfident in that spot. Washington could be overconfident, but they don’t seem to be overvalued as 3-point underdogs. I’m still taking Carolina for pick ‘em purposes, but they’re not worth betting.

Carolina Panthers 20 Washington Football Team 16

Pick against the spread: Carolina -3

Confidence: Low

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team: 2021 Week 10 NFL Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2) at Washington Football Team (2-6)

The last time we saw Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, they lost in New Orleans to the Saints. However, that is a game that could have gone very differently if the Buccaneers had not lost the turnover battle by three, which is a highly inconsistent metric week-to-week that the Buccaneers are unlikely to continue struggling in every week, especially with an elite quarterback under center. That elite quarterback typically bounces back pretty well after a loss anyway, as Tom Brady is 47-23 ATS in his career after a loss. 

That record drops to 10-12 ATS as favorites of a touchdown or more, but this line is pretty reasonable and in fact my calculated line has the Buccaneers favored by 10 points, so we’re actually getting some line value with the Buccaneers as 9.5-point road favorites in Washington, against a mediocre at best team that could be 0-8 if not for close wins over mediocre teams in the Giants and Falcons and that is now missing one of their best defensive players, Montez Sweat, with injury. The Buccaneers are also in a great spot coming off of a bye. Washington is also coming off of a bye, but better teams typically get significantly more benefit from a bye week and road favorites of 3.5 or more cover at a 63.2% rate all-time in the week after a regular season bye. This isn’t a big play, but Tampa Bay should win this game with relative ease.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30 Washington Football Team 17

Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay -9.5

Confidence: Medium

Washington Football Team at Denver Broncos: 2021 Week 8 NFL Pick

Washington Football Team (2-5) at Denver Broncos (3-4)

The Broncos got off to a 3-0 start, but have completely collapsed since then, losing four straight games by a combined 37 points. It’s easy to say that the Broncos stopped winning because their schedule got harder, as their three wins came against teams that are a combined 4-15, but the Broncos won those three games in convincing fashion, all by double digits, by a combined 50 points, and their schedule hasn’t been that difficult over the past four games, as the Raiders and Steelers are middling teams at best, while the Browns were starting a backup quarterback, leaving the Ravens as the only legitimately tough opponent the Broncos have faced all season.

A bigger deal than the schedule getting harder for the Broncos is simply how many players they have lost due to injury, as they have lost talented edge defender Bradley Chubb, their two starting inside linebackers Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson, who were both playing above average, as well as promising young wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler, though the former could return this week from a 6-game absence. Even bigger than any of those absences would be the loss of Von Miller, who is highly questionable for this game after not practicing all week. 

The oddsmakers and/or the public don’t seem to have caught up with how much less talent the Broncos have than they did earlier this season when they were beating bad teams convincingly, favoring the Broncos by 3.5 points in this home game against Washington. Washington isn’t as bad as the teams the Broncos have beaten and those wins were back when the Broncos were not missing so many key players, so this could easily be a close game or an upset. My calculated line has the Broncos favored by 2, so we’re getting some line value at +3.5, although I would need Miller to be ruled out for Washington to be worth betting.

Update: Von Miller sounds unlikely to play, but this line still moved up to 4. Jerry Jeudy will play for the Broncos, but this line is still too high. If Miller doesn’t play, Washington is the better of these two teams and homefield advantage isn’t what it used to be.

Denver Broncos 24 Washington Football Team 23

Pick against the spread: Washington +4

Confidence: Medium