Washington Redskins (8-6 SU, 9-5 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10 SU, 3-10=1 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: Sunday, December 23, 2012, 1:00 p.m. EST
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
TV: FOX/DirecTV 707
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Wash. – 6.5/Phil. +6.5
Over/Under Total: 45
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The Washington Redskins have climbed right back to the top of the NFC East standings behind their rookie quarterbacks and five-game winning streak, but this week they face an old nemesis in the division rival Philadelphia Eagles who would love nothing more to share their pain when the Redskins and Eagles meet at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday on Fox.
We’ve been waiting all week to find out the status of quarterback Robert Griffin III, but his absence didn’t seem to effect the Skins last week when they went into Cleveland and put up a, 38-21, victory with fellow third-round rookie Kirk Cousins running the show. Cousins and the Redskins did almost all of their damage after halftime, scoring 21 unanswered and 28 points total to pull away and move to the front of the NFC East title chase.
Washington moved to the front of the three-way pack when the New York Giants lost on the road in Atlanta in huge fashion, 37-0. A late Dallas win in OT (over Pittsburgh) made it a three-way logjam at the top with 8-6 records, but since the Skins have the best divisional record they sit in the driver’s seat for the final two weeks of the season.
With the rival Eagles on this week’s schedule, the Redskins have been playing coy all week with the status of RG3. Griffin has been practicing fully since Tuesday, and many speculated he’d finally be cleared to play and start this week after injuring his knee two weeks ago, but coach Mike Shanahan is enjoying the role of keeping everyone wondering and preparing for two quarterbacks instead of one.
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Philadelphia will have had an extra few days to prepare, for whomever plays QB, since they lost last Thursday to the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-13. But don’t be deceived by the lopsided score, the Eagles actually played (probably) their best game of the season in the loss last week. A string of three turnovers in about 30 seconds in the third quarter turned a close game into a Bengals rout in the blink of an eye and took away what was an inspiring and strong effort from the Eagles defense (one that has been so long overdue).
With many veterans already out the door and a few more lining up right behind them, the Eagles have gone with a youth movement down the stretch of the season as they prepare for “rebuilding” mode next season. But a chance at knocking a team out of the playoffs is the exact kind of situation the Eagles have thrived on in recent years, so don’t be surprised if they show up ready to play on Sunday with a purpose and a drive that they haven’t shown much the past few seasons.
With the health of RG3 still in limbo a lot of sportsbooks kept the game off the board for most of the week, and some of them still have the game listed as off. The books that have opened the contest show the Redskins as 6.5-point favorites, with a few offshore sportsbooks up as high as a full touchdown minus -7 on the road.
The over/under total opened at 44.5 and as news started filtering that Griffin was likely to play, the number went up to 45 or 45.5 during the later part of the week.
If Griffin does play, and it’s starting to look really good that he will, there’s still no definitive proof he’ll be as dangerous running the ball as he prior to the knee injury. Griffin and rookie running back Alfred Morris have combined to form the league’s top rushing attack (165 ypg), although the Skins were held to just 122 yards last week by Cleveland without Griffin running his “spread-option” run game from QB. With a playoff spot on the line and an Eagles run defense that is towards the back of the pack (122 ypg – 20th), even if Griffin is limited the Redskins would still be wise to stay with the run game.
Not that the Eagles or Andy Reid need any more motivation to throw the ball on Sunday, but the Redskins secondary issues are well documented (allowing 285 ypg – 30th) and rookie QB Nick Foles tossing the rock might prove to be their best option of attack. If the Eagles do attack via the pass, it will also limit the opportunities for running back Bryce Brown to fumble it, even though his insertion into the lineup for LeSean McCoy has also sparked the Eagles run game.
Washington won the first meeting between these two in runaway fashion, 31-6. That game was back in mid-November and proved to be the spark that started the Redskins five-game run to the top of the NFC East. It also snapped a three-game streak the Eagles had over the Redskins, including a win last year in Philly at the Linc by a score of 34-10 in the season finale.
This Redskins-Eagles series has been a good one for the road team in recent years, since the visitor is a solid 8-3-1 ATS in the last 12 meetings. But the favorite is also 4-0 ATS in the last four, and the Redskins have traditionally played very well in the City of Brotherly Love going 4-1 ATS in their last five visits to the hostile Linc with their notoriously hostile crowd.
The under also looks like a strong betting trend play. Not only has the total gone up during the week, but the under is 3-1-1 in the last five head-to-head meetings and a solid 4-1-1 in the last six meetings between these two played in Philly.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Many probably still have last week’s Bungles debacle in their heads. The Eagles were playing pretty good ball up unitl they fell apart. Like the Cards were vs. Det. last week, I think the Eagles will rise to the occasion to give a good fight and cover this point spread. My cash is on Philly.
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