Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NFL Predictions 2013 Week 10: Redskins vs Vikings

Washington Redskins vs Minnesota Vikings: WSH -1 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

Looking back, the Washington Redskins were -3 point favorites in last week's advanced line in Las Vegas. After Week 9, the line reopened in the -1 and -2 point range. For much of the week it hung around -2.5, but right now we are seeing -1 at the majority of sportsbooks.

The public are all over the Skins though, with 77 percent of bets on the road team.

Keep an eye on

I was really high on Washington entering season. I picked them to win the NFC East and go over their season win total, but in their first game it became very apparent that RG3 was nowhere near where people expected (or hoped) he would be.

But it would be unfair to pin all the Washington struggles on him because the defense was even worse. Yet, last week we saw a dramatic improvement from where they were in September. Not a single receiver dropped a pass and they only missed six tackles on defense.  Sometimes it is as simple as going back to basics and playing sound football.

The other big turnaround is the production in the running game. Alfred Morris is on fire of late and the Vikings haven't been particularly good against the run this year. With a top running game, the play-action and read-option schemes will only become that much more dangerous to defend. I expect RG3 to target a lot of underneath routes in this game too because the Vikings linebackers have been brutal in coverage.

In fact, there really isn't much that the Vikings do well on defense this year. Most concerning is how they perform in the clutch. Whether it is 3rd down or a two-minute drill, this unit cannot get off the field in those make-or-break moments.

On the flip side, we can flip a coin to determine what we will see from Christian Ponder. Can he finally win a game for Minnesota? If so, it probably won't come from the deep ball. Last week he was 20 of 22 on throws inside 10 yards, but only 5 of 13 beyond that distance. This is nothing new for Ponder, so the Redskins will be crowding the box for much of the night.

As usual, the Vikings will need a big game from Adrian Peterson to have any hope. The problem with this is the Skins are better in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

Bottom Line

Plain and simple, the Redskins are better on both sides of the ball and seem to be trending up. The problem is Thursday night games tend to be sloppier affairs.

Washington should win this game, but due to a short week and home field advantage, the Vikings do have a decent chance to surprise us. I'm going to trust my numbers and roll with the Redskins, but I wouldn't blame anyone for sitting this one out.

NFL Pick: WSH -1.