NFL Betting Picks Week 15: Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons

Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia

Sunday, December 15, 2013, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Opening Line: Atlanta -3 1/2 (-125)
Current line: Atlanta -7 (+115)
Opening Total: 50
Current Total: 50
Opening Money Line: Falcons -260 / Redskins +220
Current Money Line: Falcons -300 / Redskins +250

Falcons-Redskins preview
Atlanta is a 7 point favorite at home against Washington Sunday in a battle of 3 win teams.

Last year, both the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons won their respective divisions and made the playoffs. In fact, Atlanta had home field advantage in the NFC playoffs but lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game. This season has been a much different story for both the Redskins and Falcons. Both teams are 3-10 this season and in last place in their divisions. Both teams are only a game ahead of the 2-11 Houston Texanx for the worst record in the league.

Since 2001, Atlanta leads the series 3-1, and the Falcons have won three straight games in the series. The Falcons won last year in Washington 24-17. The Redskins haven’t played in Atlanta since 2009.

Washington is coached by Mike Shanahan. There is a very good chance Shanahan could be fired at the end of the season or maybe even before. The three wins for the Redskins came at the Oakland Raiders 24-14 and at home against the Chicago Bears 45-41 and  against the San Diego Chargers 30-24 in overtime. Washington has lost five straight games since the San Diego win. The Redskins have home losses to the Philadelphia Eagles 33-27, Detroit Lions 27-20, San Francisco 27-6, New York Giants 24-17, and last week against the Kansas City Chiefs 45-10, along with road losses at the Green Bay Packers 38-20, the Dallas Cowboys 31-16, the Denver Broncos 45-21, Minnesota Vikings 34-27 and Eagles 24-16. Washington is 3-10 ATS and the total is 7-6 this season. The Redskins were 3.5 point underdogs against Kansas City last week and the total was 44.

Kansas City jumped out to a 31-0 lead against Washington in the second quarter. The Chiefs would lead 38-10 at halftime, including a 95 yard kickoff return on which the Redskins barely made an effort to tackle Quintin Demps. Kansas City added another touchdown early in the fourth quarter to make the final 45-10. The Chiefs had 346 total yards including 192 rushing yards. The Redskins had 257 total yards including 192 passing yards. Washington had two turnovers and Kansas City had one.

Washington is being outscored 31-22 this season. The Redskins are #23 in scoring and last in points allowed. Washington is averaging 376.2 yards per game including 232.4 passing and 143.8 rushing yards. Washington is #2 in rushing, #17 in passing and #9 in total offense. On defense, the Redskins are giving up 371.9 yards per game including 256.7 passing and 115.2 rushing yards. Washington is 19th or worse in all three categories. The Redskins are -4 in turnovers. Washington is 83/205 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 64/170. The Redskins have forced 30 sacks and allowed 39 this season. Washington has 5 defensive touchdowns and has allowed 7 defensive/special teams touchdowns. The Redskins average 51 penalty yards per game and opponents average 43.

Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III was benched for the rest of the season earlier this week. Shanahan said it was to make sure he was healthy for the off-season workouts, but few if any people are buying that excuse. Kirk Cousins will replace Griffin. Griffin has completed 60.1% of his passes for 3,203 yards with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, along with 86 carries for 489 yards. He has been sacked 38 times this season. Cousins has completed 12 of 25 passes for 107 yards with 2 interceptions in limited action.

Running back Alfred Morris has 218 carries for 1,027 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 6 catches. Roy Helu has 55 carries, 247 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 26 catches for 228 yards. Fullback Darrel Young has 3 rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown. He is probable with a hamstring injury. All three could get more touches to make up for the carries Griffin would normally get. Griffin is a much better runner than Cousins. Running backs Evan Royster and Chris Thompson are both on injured reserve.

Receiver Pierre Garcon has 89 catches, 1,017 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Jordan Reed has 45 catches, 499 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is questionable with a concussion. Leonard Hankerson has 30 catches, 375 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is out for the season with a knee injury. Santana Moss has 30 catches, 362 yards and a touchdown. Aldrick Robinson has 10 catches for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns. Logan Paulsen has 19 catches, 207 yards and 3 touchdowns. Josh Morgan has 17 catches for 185 yards.  Seven defensive players are listed on the injury report for the Redskins.

Atlanta is coached by Mike Smith. The Falcons have home wins over the St. Louis Rams 31-24 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23, along with a 34-31 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills in Toronto. Atlanta has road losses to the New Orleans Saints 23-17, Miami Dolphins 27-23, Arizona Cardinals 27-13, Carolina Panthers 34-10, Buccaneers 41-28, and last week at the Green Bay Packers 22-21. The Falcons also have home losses to the New England Patriots 30-23, New York Jets 30-28, Seattle Seahawks 33-10, and Saints 17-13. Atlanta has lost 6 of their last 7 games. The Falcons are 5-8 ATS and the total is 7-6 this season. Atlanta was a 3.5 point underdog at Green Bay and the total was 47.

Like many of the games last week, the Falcons-Packers game was played in bitter cold and snowy weather. It was also the fifth straight game that Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed with a broken collarbone. The Packers took a 7-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. However, Atlanta would take a 21-10 lead at halftime, including a 71 yard pick six late in the half. Green Bay kicked two third quarter field goals to pull within 21-16 going into the fourth. The Falcons fumbled on their own 21 late in the third and it was recovered by the Packers.

The Packers took a 22-21 lead early in the fourth but missed the two point conversion that would have given them a 3 point lead.   The Falcons would have three more possessions, but they ended with a missed 52 yard field goal, a turnover on downs at the Packer 33, and an interception at the Packer 37. Green Bay took a knee to secure their first win since Rodgers was injured.  Atlanta had 285 total yards including 202 passing yards. Green Bay had 334 total yards including 222 passing yards. Each team had 2 turnovers.

Atlanta is being outscored 28-22 this season. The Falcons are #22 in scoring and #29 in points allowed. Atlanta is averaging 349.1 yards per game including 267.8 passing yards and 81.2 rushing yards. The Falcons are #13 in total offense and #6 in passing, but #30 in rushing. On defense, Atlanta is allowing 379.4 total yards including 245.8 passing and 133.6 rushing yards. Atlanta is #27 in total defense, #20 in passing, and #30 against the rush. The Falcons are -11 in turnovers. Atlanta is 73/173 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 87/186. The Falcons have forced 27 sacks and allowed 31 this season. The Falcons have 3 defensive touchdowns this season and have allowed 2. Atlanta averages 48 penalty yards per game and opponents average 57.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 65.7% of his passes for 3,677 yards with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, along with 57 rushing yards. He has been sacked 31 times this season. Ryan has been the lone bright spot on an offense ravaged by injuries.

Running  back Stephen Jackson has 112 carries for 410 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 22 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown. Jacquizz Rodgers has 90 carries for 306 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 45 catches, 302 yards and 2 touchdowns. Antone Smith has 5 carries for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is out Sunday with a knee injury. Jason Snelling has 37 carries for 130 yards and a touchdown, along with 23 catches, 182 yards and 2 interceptions. He hasn’t gotten many carries since Jackson returned from a hamstring injury a few weeks ago.

Receiver Harry Douglas has 68 catches, 926 and 2 touchdowns. Tight end Tony Gonzales has 65 catches, 678 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is questionable with a toe injury. Receiver Julio Jones is out for the season with a broken foot. He had 41 catches for 580 yards and 2 touchdowns. Roddy White has 38 catches for 426 yards and a touchdown but is questionable for Sunday’s game with a knee injury. Darius Johnson has 18 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown. Drew Davis has 9 catches for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rookie tight end Levine Toilolo has only 11 catches but two of them went for touchdowns. Thirteen Falcons are listed on the injury report including 5 defensive players.

Washington is 7-2 ATS in Week 15, 5-2 in December and on fieldturf, 5-11-3 after a double digit home loss, 2-5 after rushing for less than 90 yards, 8-20-6 after scoring less than 15 points, 1-4 against teams with losing records, 1-5 against teams with losing home records, 1-7-1 after allowing more than 150 rushing yards, 0-5 after a straight up loss of more than 14 points, and overall, 0-4 after a straight up loss, after failing to cover, in road games and against NFC teams.

Atlanta is 4-0 ATS in week 15, 4-1 in December, 5-11 overall, 3-7 on fieldturf, 2-6 against teams with losing road records, and 0-4 after rushing for 90 yards or less.

The Falcons are a good team decimated by injuries that became a bad team. However, they haven’t quit on the season and are playing hard. The Redskins are a bad team that is dysfunctional as well. Shanahan appears to be a lame duck and I think Washington has quit on the season. Still, it is hard to lay a touchdown with the Falcons against anyone, even at home against a bad team. I wouldn’t touch either side, but this should be a shootout with two awful defenses.

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