NFL Picks: Washington vs. Minnesota Betting the Total

Jason Lake

Thursday, November 7, 2013 8:03 PM GMT

The Minnesota Vikings host the Washington Redskins tonight at the Mall of America Field. Find out where we believe the best value lies for this matchup.

The OVER is a combined 11-5 for Washington and Minnesota this year. No wonder we’re seeing totals as high as 50.5 points on the NFL odds board for Thursday night’s matchup.

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to November 6 inclusive:

23-19-1 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

4-6 Totals

Ah, those dadgummed totals. I was close to breaking even on totals this past Monday, but the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers combined for a lousy field goal in the fourth quarter of Chicago’s 27-20 victory (UNDER 50.5 – I had them with the total at 49). That’s what happens when Aaron Rodgers breaks his collarbone on Green Bay’s first possession of the game. Stupid contact sports.

We’ve got another couple of wounded warriors suiting up in the latest episode of Thursday Night Football (8:25 p.m. ET, NFLN). Washington QB Robert Griffin III will bring his surgically repaired right knee to the Metrodome; Minnesota will respond with Christian Ponder, who missed three games earlier this year with a broken rib and nearly lost his starting gig to Josh Freeman. Both men will be playing on a short week, but that hasn’t stopped the NFL betting gurus from flirting with a 50-point total in this matchup.

Pointillism

People have been pounding the OVER right out of the gate, to, driving the total up from 48.5 points at the open to as high as 50.5 points at press time. This is at the very upper end of my (admittedly arbitrary) midzone of 37 to 51 points; all things being equal, I’d be wary of betting the OVER with a total this high. Sadly, few things in this world are equal. The OVER is 5-3 for Washington this year and 6-2 for Minnesota – make that 6-1 if you take out the game that Freeman started in Week 7.

Ancient history. Now that we’re in the second half of the season, it’s very important to put these records in perspective before you make another bet on the NFL. Minnesota started the season with five straight OVER results, but the party ended in last week’s 27-23 loss to Dallas, which slid UNDER the total of 51 points – easily the largest over/under of the season for the Men in Purple. The totals are too damn high.

D.C. Follies

As for Washington, the OVER has cashed in three times in a row, but last week’s game against San Diego needed overtime to get there, as FB Darrel Young scored the winning touchdown in a 30-24 final (OVER 49.5). Having said that, the score was 24-21 for Washington when San Diego had a potential game-winning touchdown overturned by replay in the final minute of regulation.

Officiating aside, it’s a bit surprising that the Washington defense nearly prevented another OVER by making a goal-line stand. This was the worst defense in the NFL earlier this year, but according to Football Outsiders, Washington has improved to No. 23 in defensive efficiency (No. 18 pass, No. 28 rush). Meanwhile, Griffin has rushed for just 24 yards in his last two games combined after seeming to break out of his slump in early October. He’s going to need another second half like last year’s if Washington’s going to make any headway in the weak NFC East.

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A Little Help Here

At least Griffin has some quality players surrounding him on offense. Ponder does have reigning league MVP Adrian Peterson (4.6 yards per carry) to carry the ball, but the offensive line will be missing RT Phil Loadholt (concussion) on Thursday, and he should be joined on the sidelines by LG Charlie Johnson, who’s listed as doubtful with an elbow injury. Never go to an NFL game without bringing protection.

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (broken foot) is also out of commission for the next 4-6 weeks, depriving Minnesota’s offense of one of its better blockers. Throw that all in a blender, and I think you’ll get an UNDER this Thursday night. What’s the over/under on broken collarbones?

NFL Pick: Take UNDER 50.5 at The Greek