Packers vs. Redskins NFL Picks: Trends & Stats Point To High-Scoring Game

Sterling Xie

Saturday, January 9, 2016 8:58 PM GMT

With NFL odds makers dropping the point total in Green Bay vs. Washington, now is a good time for bettors to step in and take the over in this NFC wild card matchup.

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NFL Picks: Over 45

Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

In an NFC playoff field filled with stingy defenses, the wild card round contest between the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins might be the highest-scoring game we see on that side of the bracket.  Bookmakers anticipated potential fireworks at the beginning of the week, opening the total at 47.  However, since then, the action has mostly gone on the under, dropping the game's total to 45 on the  NFL odds board at places like 5Dimes.

It's not hard to understand why many bettors have been fading the over, but now is a good time to step in with the total dropping.  Bettors have likely been scared off by the well-documented struggles of Aaron Rodgers and Co.  The Green Bay Packers have cracked 30 points just once in their past six contests, and advanced metrics portray Green Bay as a freefalling offense.  Football Outsiders has a metric called weighted DVOA, which places extra weight on the most recent games when measuring a team's efficiency.  The Packers offense ranks 21st in weighted DVOA, bettering only the Houston Texans among postseason qualifiers.

Nevertheless, bettors have also discounted Green Bay's opponent in handicapping this game.  On the heels of Kirk Cousins' ascent, Washington has hit the over in each of its past four contests.  The Redskins have scored over 30 points and gained over 400 yards in each of their past three games, making Washington one of the more explosive units down the stretch.  In the second half of the season, the Redskins averaged 28.8 points per game, the fourth-highest mark in the league over that span.

Examining the personnel in this contest, there are reasons to believe both offenses can move the ball on a relatively consistent basis.  Though Green Bay has been a strong pass defense the majority of the season, the Packers will be missing top cornerback Sam Shields, who will miss his fourth straight game with a concussion.  Shields' absence only exacerbates the biggest weakness in Green Bay's pass defense, namely its ability to defend opposing top receivers.  Based on DVOA, the Packers rank 22nd against opposing No. 1 wide receivers.  Given DeSean Jackson's deep ability, Washington has the potential to score quickly and increase the number of possessions in this game, an attractive quality for those looking to bet the over.

Moreover, for all of Green Bay's struggles, Aaron Rodgers has still been able to hit deep balls by escaping from the pocket and using his improvisational skills on the move.  Reliance on that type of sandlot play is unsustainable over the long-term, hence the Packers' two-month malaise.  But in a single game, Rodgers' ability to break down defenses can lead to a rare big offensive day for the Packers.  Rodgers has hit 55 passes of 20 or more yards this season, the eighth-highest total in the league.  Meanwhile, the Redskins have conceded 58 such plays through the air, tied for the seventh-highest total in the league.  Given the inexperience of Washington's cornerbacks and lack of range from the safety tandem of Dashon Goldson and DeAngelo Hall, there's reason to believe Rodgers can generate several big gains downfield.

Of course, Green Bay could also string together its most consistent offensive showing in months if Mike McCarthy continues committing to the ground game.  Since McCarthy seized playcalling duties in Week 14, the Packers have used more power personnel, with fullback John Kuhn and H-back Andrew Quarless seeing an increase in snaps.  The offense has attempted to get Eddie Lacy and/or James Starks going early in games, and while the results have been inconsistent, we've seen Green Bay spackle together reasonable offensive performances against poor run defenses like Dallas and Oakland.

Fortunately for Green Bay, Washington presents a rather soft landing spot for McCarthy to employ that kind of game plan.  The Washington Redskins rank 22nd by run defense DVOA, having hemorrhaged 4.8 yards per carry to opposing runners.  Only the New Orleans Saints conceded a higher yards per carry mark, something that should keep Lacy and Starks involved throughout the entire game on Sunday.

At the beginning of the week, this total was unappealing and likely depended on both Rodgers and Cousins delivering efficient games.  The line drop has given bettors more margin for error, though, and given how these teams match up, the biggest strengths on each offense should receive an opportunity to shine.  The game may be too close to call a definitive winner, but bettors should feel more comfortable taking the over with their NFL picks here.