Eagles vs. Redskins NFL Picks: 'Over' 43.5 Offers Strong Betting Value

Sterling Xie

Friday, October 2, 2015 1:38 AM UTC

Friday, Oct. 2, 2015 1:38 AM UTC

Looking at the NFL odds board we found betting value on the total for our Week 4 NFL picks for the Eagles vs. Redskins game on Sunday afternoon.

Opening Odds
Surveying the totals for the Week 4 slate of NFL games, one game stands out as the most curious of the week. When sportsbooks opened for the week, the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins somehow opened with the week’s highest over-under line at 47.5 total points, despite neither offense ranking in the top 20 in points per game  Predictably, that total experienced a sharp market correction, and dropped steadily over the next few days.

However, it appears the public has overcorrected Vegas’ initial line, and the Eagles-Redskins line now sits at 43.5 total points on the NFL odds board.  Though it’s a relatively middling total in comparison to the rest of the week’s games, both offenses have proven capable of sustaining long drives and posting high per-drive point totals.          

It’s hard to make a strong statistical argument for the over, given how badly both offenses have floundered this year.  The much-vaunted Chip Kelly offense has fallen flat after an offseason of personnel turnover.  Whether by standard metrics (31st in yards per play) or advanced ones (27th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric), the Eagles have been a total flop offensively, apart from a prolific second half in the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons.  The rushing attack, one of the league’s most efficient during Kelly’s first two seasons at the helm, has floundered behind DeMarco Murray’s historically terrible start.  With 11 rushing yards on 21 attempts, no player in league history has ever accumulated as many carries as Murray in his first two games and rushed for fewer yards.  Philly moved out of the yards per carry basement in last week’s impressive Ryan Mathews-led showing against the Jets, but the Eagles’ 2.7 yards per rushing attempt figure still ranks 30th.

The Redskins have shown glimpses of promise under Kirk Cousins, particularly during their Week 2 win over St. Louis, but as usual, the offense has offset its positive plays with a deluge of catastrophic negative plays.  Washington ranks 22nd in giveaways per game, turning the ball over at roughly the same rate as when it ranked 29th in that category last season.  The sack rate has been better, down to 3.6 percent (10th) after a miserable 9.6 percent rate in 2014 (30th), but it hasn’t been enough to put the Redskins consistently on the scoreboard.

So after outlining all the flaws of these offenses, why would you still take the over?  After all, the above analysis did not even touch on Philly’s defensive stinginess (fifth in overall defensive DVOA) or Washington’s surprising run defense (5th in DVOA), which could further perpetuate the Eagles’ ground game difficulties.  However, it’s important to remember that three games is a tiny sample size, and though that warning might start to sound old after a month of football, it nevertheless holds true.

Thus, we can’t assume the Eagles and Redskins are completely different squads from last year, even though both have made important personnel changes on both sides of the ball.  The most compelling reason to bet the over here is pace.  The Eagles love a track meet, and according to Football Outsiders’ pace stats, Philadelphia runs the fastest situation-neutral offense in the league (i.e., when the score of the game doesn’t impact whether an offense will play faster or slower).  The Eagles average just 23.7 seconds between plays in these neutral game situations, which is right around the same rate they ran plays in 2013 and 2014, years where they also had the fastest offense in the league. 

Moreover, both offenses figure to have excellent field position throughout the games.  The Washington and Philadelphia defenses have been stuck behind the eight-ball the entire season—the former ranks 28th in average opponent starting field position, while the latter ranks 24th.  It doesn’t take a mathematician to understand that strong starting field positions plus a high number of possessions will drive up the total scoring, even if we can’t be sure how close the game will turn out.


Betting Outlook
The one wild card here is game location, as the impending arrival of Hurricane Joaquin could force the league to move the game from FedEx Field.  There are reports that the NFL is looking at Detroit's Ford Field as a potential alternative location, and playing in a neutral environment would likely provide a massive improvement in scoring conditions when compared to the likely stormy forecasts in the D.C. area.  Perhaps the offseason changes in Philadelphia and Washington really represented downgrades in talent, and we’ll see a low-scoring slopfest in an unfamiliar venue for these NFC East rivals.  However, given the pace and per-play efficiency these offenses have traditionally exhibited, it’s more likely that early-season growing pains are the culprit behind the poor starts.  Expect these teams to reach the relatively modest over-under total and deliver a strong value to your NFL picks.

NFL Pick: 'Over' 43.5 at BetOnline

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