Washington Redskins (9-7 in 2007) -6 1/2, o/u 31 1/2 vs. Indianapolis Colts (13-3), 8 pm Eastern Sunday, NBC
by Zman of Predictem.com
An established team with five straight division titles meets one of the four teams in the league with a new head coach when the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins kick off the 2008 NFL season with the annual Hall of Fame game Sunday night in Canton, Ohio.
Indianapolis won at least 12 games last year for the fifth consecutive season, then lost at home to San Diego in an AFC divisional-round bout. This year, a slew of Colts are coming off injuries and surgery, including QB Peyton Manning, WR Marvin Harrison, DE Dwight Freeney and S Bob Sanders. All of those Indy players, and several more, are expected to see little, if any, on-field action Sunday.
Meanwhile, Washington, which made it to the playoffs last year but lost at Seattle in an NFC wild-card game, will be making its debut under new head coach Jim Zorn. And as many new coaches are tempted to do, Zorn may try to use the exhibition season to create a winning attitude.
Hence, the Redskins are listed as 6 1/2-point favorites for Sunday’s game at most sportsbooks around the Internet, with a total of 31 1/2. Also, Washington is listed at right around -280 on the various Vegas moneylines, with the Colts getting +240.
Jim Sorgi, the former Wisconsin Badger, is now in his fifth year as Manning’s understudy, and may see extensive action this pre-season in Peyton’s absence. Former Jacksonville Jaguar Quinn Gray and former New York Giants Jared Lorenzen may also see some action.
Zorn is implementing his own version of the West Coast offense in DC, and that can often take some time. Jason Campbell is probably still the starting QB, but Todd Collins, who performed admirably in relief of Campbell last season, and rookie Colt Brennan will probably get looks, too.
Washington ranked 15th in the league last year in total offense at 333 YPG, 12th in rushing at 117 YPG, 20th in scoring at 21 PPG, 7th in total defense at 305 YAPG, 4th against the run at 91 YAPG, and 11th in scoring defense at 19 PPG.
Indy, meanwhile, ranked 5th in total offense at 359 YPG, 18th in rushing at 107 YPG, 3rd in scoring at 28 PPG, 3rd in total defense at 280 YAPG, 15th vs. the run at 107 YAPG, and 1st in scoring defense at 16 PPG.
Over the last three pre-seasons, the Colts are 2-11 straight up and 3-9-1 against the spread, while the Redskins are 3-9 SU and 4-8 ATS. And while the totals are 6-6 in Indy’s last three exhibitions seasons, they are 7-6 in Washington’s last three pre-season campaigns.
Fittingly, two of the greatest Redskins of all-time, CB Darrell Green and WR Art Monk, are among six former players being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in ceremonies Saturday.
Zman’s Pick: We like Washington to win by a touchdown or better.