WASHINGTON 16 Denver (-3.5) 15
Washington continues to play better than their record, as the Redskins are 2-5 straight up and 1-6 ATS this season despite out-gaining their opponents 5.1 yppl to 4.9 yppl. Being -8 in turnover margin is a big part of the problem and last week an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Atlanta kept them from covering the spread.
Washington's defense is 0.2 yppl better than average, allowing 4.9 yppl to teams that would combine to average 5.1 yppl against an average team, and that unit has an advantage over a Denver offense that is 0.2 yppl worse than average (5.2 yppl against teams that would allow 5.4 yppl to an average team).
The mismatch in this game is when the Redskins have the ball, as injuries to their offensive line (two starter are out for the season, including star LT Samuels) have hurt the offense. Washington is worse than average running the ball, but I won't downgrade the rushing attack with Clinton Portis out since Ladell Betts has proven in the past to a more than capable replacement. The biggest problem is in the passing attack, as the injury to Samuels, who protected quarterback Jason Campbell's blind side, has led to a slew of sacks (19 in 4 games) and had made it tough to Campbell to find open receivers down field.
Campbell is still doing well when he has time to throw the ball, but the sacks lead to a -0.8 yards per pass play rating for Campbell in the last 4 games without Samuels. Denver's defense had a their first sub-par outing of the season last week against Pittsburgh but he Broncos are still 0.9 yppl better than average defensively (4.7 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.6 yppl against an average team).
Even after making the adjustments for Washington's offense since the injury to Samuels, I still only get Denver by 2 1/2 points mathematically, as Washington isn't likely to continue to be -1 in turnovers (given Campbell's career interception percentage of just 2.3%, combined with the randomness of fumbles, which have gone against Washington) while Denver isn't likely to average +0.75 in turnover margin as they have. In fact, my model projects only a 0.2 turnover edge for Denver in this game and Washington can certainly compete if the turnovers are even.
In addition to the line value Washington applies to a 96-39 ATS situation that plays on bad teams (win percentage less than .333) that have scored 17 or fewer points in 3 or more consecutive games. Denver also applies to a 111-53-1 ATS contrary angle that plays on teams that are 4 games or more below .500 against the spread for the season. I'll call for the upset.
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