New England Patriots (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. Washington Redskins (4-8 SU, 5-7 ATS), 1:00 p.m. EST, NFL Week 14, Sunday, December 11, 2011, FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland, TV: CBS
by Scotty L, Professional Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NE -9/Wash +9
Over/Under Total: 48
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The New England Patriots make the short trip to Landover, Maryland to face the Washington Redskins on Sunday. As has been the case for a number of years, this is a tale of two different teams. The Redskins are looking at another losing season, while the Patriots seemed primed for another playoff run. But at certain points this season, the identities of these 2 teams were not so clear.
A month ago, the Patriots lost two in a row to fall to 5-3. The ineptitude of their defense threatened to send their season sideways. They have since regrouped by winning 4 in a row (including 3 covers) with a defense that has allowed 13.25 points in that span. The New England D is still ranked last against the pass and in total yards allowed, but is only 13th in points allowed. That shows the D is a little more clutch than the numbers indicate and that sometimes the best defense is a blistering offense.
And the Patriots certainly have that. In the first quarter of this game, Tom Brady will go over 4000 yards with a receiving crew that is rounding into a special group. 4 different pass catchers already have over 48 receptions. Wes Welker is already up to 93 catches. Big-play TE Rob Gronkowski has caught 13 touchdown passes. With opposing defenses so worried about the passing attack, it allows RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis to come up with his share of big plays.
The Redskins are in bad shape, after squandering a 3-1 start that now seems like a distant memory. A bad 34-19 loss to the Jets on Sunday was their 7th loss in their last 8 games. It was their first double-digit home-loss of the year. They now face the prospect of losing a couple key players on offense, with T Trent Williams and TE Fred Davis facing suspensions stemming from failed drug tests taken shortly after the lockout ended.
To the Redskins credit and in an effort to find some silver lining, QB Rex Grossman has been playing better, with 827 yards in the air in his last 3 games. In those last 3 games, Washington has covered the spread twice, indicating they havent totally folded up the tent and headed home mentally. The loss on Sunday to the Jets wasnt a promising prelude for this final quarter of the season, but they have typically been a tough home team. In addition, the Skins D is 9th against the pass. Facing a New England secondary that is ranked last with a somewhat-resurgent Grossman could result in some fireworks.
BY PLACING THEM INTO A 20 POINT FOOTBALL TEASER AT 5DIMES
One might be inclined to think Sundays 7-point win against the Colts, where the Pats were favored by 20.5, would show they can be snuck up on by overlooked teams. They are in a similar situation here, so potential Patriots backers should be leery of the week-to-week letdowns the 2011 Patriots have shown. But the Colts played a decent game and the Patriots have already had their taste of failure. With 3 other teams at 9-3 in the AFC, expect the Patriots to keep their heads screwed on right as they try to lock up an advantageous playoff position.
Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Point Spread: A week makes a big difference in terms of perception. One might have been slightly more enthusiastic taking the Redskins as big home dogs coming off a pair of covers. The 15-point home loss to the Jets threw it into a new light. They could match up better with the Patriots, whose defense is a lot less stout, but losing their top receiver and a starting offensive lineman to suspension doesnt bode well for that dynamic.
This seems like a really good spread and total. Any number of final scores along those lines seem ikely. It could be 31-17 or 28-20 without anyone batting an eyelash.
With that being said, my final thoughts on this game are that the Patriots laying 9 points on the road without much of a secondary makes Washington a super value play. There are many better bets on the board this weekend, but if forced to make a pick, the Skins are my play.
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