Saddle Up & Bet Cowboys ATS for Week 8 NFL Picks vs. Redskins

Jason Lake

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 1:39 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014 1:39 PM UTC

We’ve got a little more clarity in Washington’s starting QB situation: Colt McCoy is very likely to start Monday night against Dallas. But the betting public doesn’t seem to know which team to add to its NFL picks.

Jason’s record after Week 7: 22-29 ATS, 7-11-1 Totals

Profit: minus-29.68 units

Does anybody really think Robert Griffin III will start Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys? It seems highly unlikely, considering Griffin dislocated his ankle in Week 2 and has yet to put in a proper practice. But the idea has been floated, and now we’re all distracted from the fact that Colt McCoy has been named Washington’s starting quarterback until Griffin is ready to go – which could be as soon as next week, if not this Monday (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

We’re going to go ahead and assume McCoy will start, for the purposes of this article’s NFL pick. But where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and you might want to hold off until closer to kick-off before placing your bets. Our Week 8 NFL odds board shows Washington laying 9.5 points on the road, up from +8.5 at the open, and the betting public remains split on which team to take.

The Nails
We professed our man-love for McCoy when we discussed the opening odds, and there’s a lot of positive feeling coming from the mainstream media. But this is where we have to burst everyone’s bubble. Yes, McCoy connected on 11 of his 12 passes for 128 yards in last week’s win over the Tennessee Titans, but those completions were for an average of two yards through the air. The remaining 106 yards were after the catch, most notably the 63 yards Pierre Garcon raced to the Promised Land.

You know a quarterback’s in trouble when the coach talks about “intangibles.” Jay Gruden echoed what many scribes are saying about McCoy, that he’ll make the right throw at the right time – unlike Kirk Cousins, who wore out his welcome after throwing his ninth pick of the season against Tennessee. Well, in his 21 starts for the Cleveland Browns, McCoy threw 20 TD passes and 20 picks. Cousins had 18 TD throws and 19 INTs for Washington in nine starts.

This looks like basic human psychology at work here. We remember recent results more than past results, and we give bad outcomes twice as much weight as good outcomes. On top of that, Cousins has been a higher-volume passer than McCoy, so there are more bad memories per game to obsess over. And people sure are obsessive when it comes to football. The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

Let There Be Range
Consistency is one of those fuzzy concepts that gets way too much play. Let’s take a moment to look at how each of these quarterbacks has performed in wins, and in losses:

McCoy (13 wins): five TDs, three INTs, 63.48 CMP%, 85.1 RATE
McCoy (16 losses): 17 TDs, 17 INTs, 57.36 CMP%, 73.2 RATE

Cousins (four wins): five TDs, two INTs, 68.18 CMP%, 103.6 RATE
Cousins (10 losses): 13 TDs, 17 INTs, 56.43 CMP%, 70.3 RATE

If we were playing poker, we’d say that Cousins has a very polarized range. When he plays like Drew Brees, Washington wins. When he plays like Brandon Weeden, Washington loses. But at least he plays like Brees about 30 percent of the time, which is what it’s going to take to beat the Cowboys Monday night. When McCoy’s team wins, it’s in games where he hardly does anything, and therefore doesn’t make many mistakes. His range is capped.

In theory, Washington has the running game to get the job done, but Alfred Morris (3.8 yards per carry) hasn’t done well of late. The offensive line is a mess with so many players on the injured list, and the defense is full of holes, as well. Unless McCoy has some Brees in him somewhere, there’s not much hope for the Washington Longhorns in this matchup.

The Five Stars
Injuries/Suspensions/Travel/Rest: DAL
Defense/Special Teams: DAL
Coaching: EVEN
Market Bias: WAS
Betting Line Value: DAL

Verdict: 2-star pick on DAL

Free NFL Pick: Bet 3.5 units on the Cowboys –9.5 (–108) at Heritage

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