Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to November 12 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
Stay on top of the latest line movement with our NFL Week 11 Betting Odds Report
At this time last year, Washington was 3-6 SU, 4-5 ATS and seemingly dead in the water in the NFC East. We all know how that one turned out; Washington ran the table at 7-0 SU and ATS to win the division. And it all began with a 31-6 victory over Philadelphia in Week 11 as a 3.5-point home favorite on NFL odds boards.
Fast-forward one year, and wouldn’t you know it, our D.C. heroes are 3-6 SU and ATS, and they’re about to face the Eagles in a game that could once again determine their playoff fates. But this isn’t the same broken-down Philly squad that stunk up the joint last year. The Eagles are 5-5 SU and ATS after a pair of road wins, and this time, they’re the ones laying 3.5 points at home on the Week 11 NFL lines.
Is 3.5 points being a little parsimonious? That suggests the NFL betting market sees Philadelphia as a slightly better commodity than Washington on neutral ground. The efficiency wonks at Football Outsiders see things differently, as usual. They’ve got Philly ranked No. 15 overall (No. 5 offense, No. 28 defense, No. 25 special teams), while Washington languishes at No. 30 (No. 15 offense, No. 24 defense, No. 32 special teams). You could drive a Hummer through that gap.
One of the reasons that gap is so big is that Washington’s special teams are that awful. In fact, they’re the third-worst unit through Week 10 stretching all the way back to 1989, which is how far back the data goes. Kai Forbath has connected on just seven of his 11 field-goal attempts. Sav Rocca has a league-worst 34.0 net yards per punt. Josh Morgan and Chris Thompson aren’t delivering much in the return game, and Washington provides less coverage than a Selena Gomez dress. Casual bettors tend not to notice these things – the special teams, that is, not the dress or lack thereof.
Foles Is Good
Here’s another difference from last year: Nick Foles is the best quarterback in the league. That’s if you go by Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), where Foles is No. 1 ahead of Peyton Manning through Week 10. They trade places if you go by QBR, with Manning at 84.1 and Foles at 79.2. In 2012, Foles posted a 45.3 QBR in relief of Michael Vick and ranked No. 30 in DVOA, sandwiched between Brandon Weeden and Kevin Kolb at the bottom of the quarterback charts.
Small sample size, or new reality? Maybe both. Foles has a more-or-less intact offensive line to work with this year (LT Jason Peters was injured in Week 10 and appears to be out several weeks), and of course, he has a new head coach in Chip Kelly who happens to be an offensive Super Genius. Kelly’s blur offense has allowed Foles to demonstrate both his decision-making (16 TDs, zero INTs) and his athleticism (4.0 yards per carry) to a much higher degree than he could last year in the death throes of the Andy Reid Regime.
The Eagles have certainly had their ups and downs this year, but it’s been mostly up with Foles at the helm: 3-1 SU and ATS in his four starts, including back-to-back road wins over the Oakland Raiders (–1) and the hobbled Green Bay Packers (+1). Now it’s up to Foles and the Eagles to deliver at home, where they’ve come up dry at 0-4 SU and ATS thus far. I’m not going to let that record scare me away from betting Philly this week. It’s not like there’s a staph infection in the dressing room or anything.
NFL Pick: Take the Eagles –3.5 (+109) at Matchbook
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