A lot of football bettors are going to look at this line and think it’s a gift from Vegas. Don’t fall for the bait. When making my own lines for Week 5, a field goal is exactly where I put this one. I think the Falcons are six points or so better than Washington on a neutral field. So if you factor in the home-field advantage, three points is about right.
What I can see happening here is the same thing that happened to Atlanta last week. Cam Newton and the run game absolutely broke down the defense that had dazzled the prior two weeks. The Panthers finished with 199 yards rushing and 5.7 yards per carry.
The Broncos and Chargers found out how difficult it was to throw on Mike Nolan’s disguised defensive sets but you take all the guesswork out by pounding the rock. Carolina ran 35 run plays to 24 pass plays and nearly pulled off the upset in Week 4.
So why wouldn’t the Redskins execute exactly the same gameplan this week? Mike Shanahan is a smart guy, most of the time, so I expect he will. They were already running the same read-option, run-heavy offense as Carolina, just with more efficiency. Start your Betting Offshore action on the Atlanta Falcons vs. Washington Redskins Game.
It’s more efficient because Robert Griffin is already as good of a passer and decision-maker in the pocket as Newton. He showed that he can be a true pocket quarterback with an impressive comeback against Tampa Bay last Sunday. RG3 completed 26 of 35 attempts for 323 yards and no interceptions.
Griffin is still taking too many hits, so his durability will continue to be tested. The Redskins are running him often, particularly inside the 5-yard line. Like Newton, he’s nearly impossible to stop down there. But one big hit puts Rex Grossman back on the field, and that’s not a good thing.
Griffin willed his team to a 24-22 comeback in Week 4 but they should have never been in that position. The defense completely collapsed in the second half, blowing a 21-6 lead late in the third quarter.
I’ve talked ad naseum about the problems of this secondary. DeAngelo Hall is the best player in that group and he’s well past his prime. Brandon Meriweather was expected to return from a knee injury last week but a freak collision with receiver Aldrick Robinson before the game made them both inactive. Meriweather reinjured his knee and will be out at least a week. Robinson suffered a concussion.
Washington started Reed Doughty at safety instead of DeJon Gomes, who had struggled mightily in Meriweather’s absence. Josh Freeman, who’s been struggling to string together completions all year, nearly threw for 300 yards on this secondary.
That means Matt Ryan and his receivers should have a huge day in the nation’s capital. The Falcons are 14-0 when Ryan throws three or more touchdowns. Roddy White came up big last week and doesn’t look quite ready to pass the torch over to Julio Jones. But with Tony Gonzalez and Harry Douglas, this is as dangerous of a receiving group as they come.
It’s going to take some discipline not to get coaxed into taking the visitors here. I think both offenses will move the ball relatively well so the over is a bit more enticing in my opinion.
The NFL lines for this Sunday afternoon contest were first released by SBG Global and the Redskins were positioned as 3-point underdogs with a total of 52. The over/under has since dropped to 50.
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