There haven’t been many NFL teams with a worse showing in November and December than the Washington Redskins. The club is dead in the water at 5-8, unsure what to do with starting QB Kirk Cousins (what else is new)?
With that in mind, Sunday’s point spread for FedExField shows just what low regard the casino industry holds the 2017 Arizona Cardinals in. The Cards are 6-7 and usually play hard, but results in ’17 have been so inconsistent that no bookie feels comfortable setting them as a favorite for any road game.
It doesn’t help that Adrian Peterson is going on injured reserve. The veteran RB arrived in the desert in Week 6 and turned in a brilliant performance against Tampa Bay, bringing the Cardinals level at 3-3. But Peterson couldn’t stand up to the enormous workload Bruce Arians unwisely heaped on him, and a 1-3 record against the NFC West has doomed the Big Red over the past few weeks.
Who: Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins
When: Sunday, December 17th, 1 PM EST
Where: FedExField, Landover, MD
Lines: AZ (+4) at WASH (-4) / O/U Total: (42)
The Redskins looked like potential playoff contenders after beating the Seattle Seahawks 17-14 to get to .500 after 8 games. Since then, they’ve looked like crap. Defense is porous, and the talented Cousins falls into a weekly trap of trying to manage the game, then trying to do too much as the team gives up touchdown after touchdown.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the defense has gone wrong, at least judging by overall stats. The ‘Skins have 13 interceptions on the season with CB Kendall Fuller grabbing 4. The offense could be cleaner but hasn’t exactly been a turnover machine.
Run defense is an issue. Philip Rivers was celebrated after another big passing day against Washington last week, but the Chargers rushed for almost 200 yards to set up the aerial attack. The week prior, the ‘Skins played the Ezekiel Elliott-less Cowboys and gave up 182 yards on the ground.
Can Arizona’s defense play any better? Blaine Gabbert is an upgrade at QB and gives the Cardinals a more upbeat vibe on offense despite what the stats say. But the speedy, finesse-oriented Cardinal ‘D usually falls behind 10-0 or 14-7 before figuring an opposing offense out. That’s more than Larry Fitzgerald and a flat supporting cast can cope with. The Cards need early leads to get their meager running game going, and it won’t happen without a more physically-imposing front-7. Calais Campbell is sorely missed.
Picking the visitors may be tempting, as the Cardinals played well on defense last Sunday and could conceivably grab the momentum against a dead-fish opponent.
But the Redskins need to go up early even more than their opponents do, and Arizona is a prime candidate to fall behind in the 1st half…giving Cousins time to hand-off patiently and wait for the play-action pass to develop. Washington should out-play their guests in the 1st and 4th quarters.
Take the braves on the warpath in old D.C., and let your winnings soar.