New England @ Washington
Recommended bet: NE -15.5
Cover Probability: 56.52%
Cover Edge: 7.72%
New England Patriots:
-WR N’Keal Harry (ankle) was placed on IR (return designation) before the start of the season.
-TE Ben Watson (suspension) is OUT weeks 1 – 4.
-C David Andrews (illness) is on season-ending IR.
-LT Isaiah Wynn (foot) was injured week 2 and is on IR (return designation).
-LB Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) was INACTIVE week 4. He is limited in practice to start the week.
-K Stephen Gostkowski (hip) is on IR.
-QB Case Keenum (foot) did not practice on Wednesday (10/2), but returned Thursday (10/3) as limited.
-WR Terry McLaurin (hamstring) was INACTIVE week 4. He is limited in practice to start the week.
-RB Derrius Guice (knee) was injured week 1 and is on IR.
-TE Jordan Reed (concussion) was INACTIVE weeks 1 – 4. He is still not practicing.
-C Chase Roullier (knee) was INACTIVE week 4. He is limited in practice to start the week.
-LT Trent Williams (holdout) is OUT indefinitely.
-RG Brandon Scherff (ankle) was INACTIVE week 4. He is currently not practicing.
The spread opened at 13 and was quickly bet up to 15.5, where it’s remained since. It’s essentially the same across all books.
When New England has the ball:
This may surprise you to hear, but the Patriots offense is good – sitting at 4th in offensive DVOA. They struggled against a very good Buffalo Bills defense on the road, but other than that it’s been straight fireworks from Tom Brady and company.
The biggest issue with the offense has been the line, which projected as a top 5 unit but lost their starting center (David Andrews) before the season started, and left tackle (Isaiah Wynn) in week 2. That could be an issue for some quarterbacks, but Brady is averaging 2.29 seconds per pass attempt, which is fastest in the league. When he’s able to hold onto the ball and chuck it deep (20+ yards in the air), Brady has a QB rating of 134.4, which is tied with Patrick Mahomes for best in the league. Brady ranks 3rd in DYAR and 4th in DVOA. The cliff is coming, but it isn’t here yet.
Here are the current Patriots receiving leaders by targets: Julian Edelman (31), Phillip Dorsett (24), Josh Gordon (24), James White (21), and Rex Burkhead (17). What’s lacking so far is the tight end position, and even though Ben Watson is returning from his 5 game suspension, I’d expect these 5 to be the focal point of the Patriots offense. On the ground, lead back Sony Michel has struggled big time (just 2.8 yards per carry), but White (4.6) and Burkhead (4.7) have somewhat picked up his slack. Still, with a line and a lead back that’s struggling, this is very much a pass-first team.
The Redskins defense.. well, they suck. They’re sitting at a less-than-ideal 27th in DVOA and 21st in PFF grades. Their pass rush relies primarily on Matt Ioannidis (14 pressures) from the inside and Ryan Kerrigan (12 pressures) from the outside. That ranks 35th and 47th in the league. Their secondary is supposed to be lead by CB Josh Norman and S Landon Collins (who got a casual 84 million dollar contract in the off-season), but both have been terrible. Norman is allowing a 121.7 QB rating when targeted this season and the dude just looks like he maybe runs a 4.8 40 right now. Collins looks terrible in coverage as well, and has missed 5 tackles in the run game. The lone bright spot as been CB Quinton Dunbar, who missed weeks 2 and 3, but had shut down performances in weeks 1 and 4. The Redskins have also suffered from week interior and linebacker play, and are giving up a generous 4.7 yards per carry on the ground.
When Washington has the ball:
It’s 4:00pm on a Thursday. Do you know who your starting quarterback is?
According to Jay Gruden, no. They do not. Which is unfortunate for me because I’m not sure which QB to make fun of. Oh well, guess they’ll all get it.
Case Keenum has been the Skins starting QB for the first four weeks. Though he’s rocking a respectable 68% completion percentage, he’s thrown 4 picks and has fumbled 3 times. His PFF grade sits at 43.6, and he got benched for rookie Dwayne Haskins last week. Oh, and he’s also nursing a foot injury that has him not practicing. Speaking of Haskins, he completed 12 passes on 21 attempts last week — 3 were to the Giants and 9 were to the Redskins. Haskins is clearly not ready, and is playing behind a bad offensive line. Does Gruden want to trot him out against a very difficult matchup against the Patriots, or will he go with 3rd string QB Colt McCoy? I haven’t the slightest clue, but I’m glad we’re betting the other guys.
The skilled positions for the Redskins are either hurt, bad, old, concussed, or some combination of the four. The lone bright spot has been rookie WR Terry McClaurin, who missed last game with a hamstring injury. Outside of that, the targets have primarily gone to RB Chris Thompson (ok, he’s 28, good, and not concussed), WR Paul Richardson, and WR Trey Quinn. Jordan Reed hasn’t played yet this season due to what feels like perpetual concussions, and now Vernon Davis has a concussion of his own. At running back, Darrius Guice is out for the year, leaving nothing but the corpse of Adrian Peterson.
The Patriots defense is another story. They are a literal wrecking ball, putting up stats that are just silly.
Now look, the Patriots aren’t actually that good. Defensive stats tend to be very noisy, and we see a lot of regression toward the mean as seasons progress. But suffice it to say, they are very, very good.
The biggest problem teams have to figure out with the Patriots is how to handle their secondary. They are legit absurd, earning a league high 91.3 coverage grade from PFF (Bills are second at 87.8). None of their starting CBs have allowed a QB rating over 60 when targeted, and teams are averaging just 5.5 yards per attempt, and have completed far more INTs (10) than TDs (0). The Patriots weakness is their pass rush, but their secondary is so damn good that they’re dialing up blitzes at a very high rate. When you can bring the house and trust your guys to cover 1 on 1, you’re tough to beat.
We’ll take the Pats.
That’s it for now, bitches.