NFL Picks: Lions vs. Redskins in Week 3

Jason Lake

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 7:34 PM GMT

If they weren’t panicking in D.C. after Week 1, they sure are now after Week 2. Can the most hyped-up NFL betting commodity of 2013 take advantage this Sunday?

 

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The cat is no longer in the bag. We now have two weeks of regular-season performances and results to guide our NFL betting decisions. Betting on football is a lot easier when you’ve got some data, but it’s easier for just about everyone in the market. Profit margins will only get smaller from here on in.

No problem. Data is nice, but so is beer, and both have to be used with the proper care and attention. Bad things will happen otherwise. We can count on a certain portion of the NFL betting public to misinterpret the events of the first two weeks, make square bets, and move the football odds in our favor.

Go for Three

That goes double for our beleaguered fans in Washington. They’ve seen two gimpy performances from QB Robert Griffin III, leading to two disappointing defeats SU and ATS. Disappointing if you weren’t fading Griffin and his surgically reconstructed knee, that is. We did it in Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles at +4, and we did it again in Week 2 against the Green Bay Packers at –6.5. The default play in Week 3 would be the old triple-barrel, as the Detroit Lions prepare to invade FedExField this Sunday afternoon (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX).

Not everyone agrees. Our first NFL lines had this contest as a 'Pick ‘em' with Washington as a slight +100 home dog. And our early consensus numbers show roughly 60 percent support for the home side, driving the line to Washington –1.5 as we go to press. This isn’t much of a line move in the grand scheme of things; however, the fact that people are betting at all on Washington is very interesting indeed.

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Kissing Cousins

I mentioned last week that it would be good for business if people started getting their Underoos in a bunch over Griffin. His second-half surge against the Eagles quelled some of the fears over his ability to produce in 2013, and Griffin was at it again in Week 2, bringing Washington back from 31-0 in the middle of the third quarter to a more respectable 38-20 at the final gun.

They’re panicking now, folks. Griffin is obviously not the same offensive threat that he was last year, and the difference is mostly in the running game, where RG3 has carried the ball just nine times for 25 yards. That’s 2.8 yards per carry, down from 6.8 yards in his outstanding rookie campaign. Some people are even calling for Griffin to sit down until healthy, and for Kirk Cousins to get the start Sunday.

Ridonkulous

Cousins did a fine job in relief of Griffin last year (33-of-48 passing, 101.6 QB rating), but to pull the chute on Griffin at this point would be folly. The quarterback position isn’t even the real problem in D.C. right now. According to Football Outsiders, Griffin’s performance against Green Bay ranked No. 10 overall in Total DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement), up from No. 18 in Week 1 against Philadelphia. Give him time.

Nope, the real problem is on the other side of the ball. Pro Football Focus has crunched the numbers and found that Washington has played by far the worst defense in the NFL after two games. How bad is it? Worse than the winless 2008 Detroit Lions. Washington has missed 30 tackles already; no other team has missed more than 20. Things are especially awful once you get past the defensive line and into the linebackers and secondary. And it won’t get any better if two-time Pro Bowl SS Brandon Meriweather doesn’t recover in time from the concussion he suffered against the Packers.

Detroit, meanwhile, is coming off a 25-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals (+1 at home). The Lions were the consensus No. 1 follow team for 2013, at least in some NFL betting circles, but I faded them last week because Arizona is also a good follow sports pick. That loss was hardly damaging to the Leos, and should only enhance their betting value against a stumbling Washington club. Calvin Johnson could catch four TDs this week. In the first half.

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NFL Pick: Take the Lions plus the 2.5 on the spread at Bet365

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