Washington vs. Lions Odds & Picks: Fade Home Favorite On Sunday
Leon Halip/Getty Images. Pictured: Matthew Stafford
Washington vs. Lions Odds
This may be a battle of two sub-.500 teams, but Washington and Detroit still have playoff aspirations. In a close projected game, which team receives our support against the spread?
Let’s take a closer look.
Washington Football Team
Veteran quarterback Alex Smith takes over for Kyle Allen (ankle) who is out for the season. Smith’s long battle back from a broken leg saw him throw for 325 passing yards in relief of Allen.
Smith is notorious for targeting his running backs, and this should benefit both Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic, who have shown remarkable passing game efficiency. McKissic led all receivers in Week 9 with 14 targets, converting those into nine receptions and 65 receiving yards. Gibson should see plenty of opportunities against a Detroit rush defense that has been among the league’s worst (25th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA) this season.
Smith should rely on leading wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who has dominated passing targets all season.
Players with at least 20% of team targets in every game this season:
— TJ Hernandez (@TJHernandez) November 11, 2020
McLaurin ranks first among all wide receivers with a 45% air yards share and caught a 68-yard touchdown pass from Smith last week.
Washington is looking to develop another receiving option besides McLaurin and hopes that either Cam Sims (three catches for 110 yards last week) or tight end Logan Thomas (seven red-zone receptions) can step forward.
Head coach Ron Rivera brings constant quarterback pressure — Washington ranks third among all teams with 3.4 sacks per game, including an average of four sacks per game over the past three contests.
The Lions are struggling to stay healthy at several key positions, including wide receiver.
Kenny Golladay has again been ruled out with a hip injury he suffered in Week 8. Surprisingly, tight end T.J. Hockenson also popped up on the injury report with a toe injury. He was listed with that injury last week, but practiced in full last Thursday and Friday. It’s concerning that he would miss practice this week, but is only listed as questionable after being a limited participant on Friday.
Finally, quarterback Matthew Stafford — who left last week’s game with a head injury — will start. But Golladay’s absence is a problem for the Lions offense, particularly for Stafford — he’s less effective and more mistake-prone when Golladay is off the field
The same can also be said for Marvin Jones, who averages 14 fewer receiving yards and 2.1 fewer points when Golladay is out of the lineup.
Detroit already had a difficult matchup against a Washington defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game (15.6) and total receptions (78) to opposing wide receivers.
Detroit’s offensive line has struggled all season, ranking 26th overall and 21st in pass protection. Stafford has taken some huge hits the past few weeks and has narrowly avoided being knocked out of the game. Against Washington’s strong front seven, that is again a concern this week.
Look for the Lions to attack Washington through the ground game, using their three-headed monster of Adrian Peterson, D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson. Swift ranks 11th among all running backs with 26 receptions and 10th with 207 receiving yards. He has been Detroit’s most explosive back and will be even more important if Golladay and potentially Hockenson are out.
Washington, however, has also been among the NFL’s elite in limiting running back receptions. The Football Team has allowed the second-fewest receptions (27) and fewest receiving yards (147) to the position this season.
While a small sample size, the Lions have not fared well under Matt Patricia as home favorites, per our Bet Labs data:
There have been concerns about Washington’s offense all season, and Smith was understandably rusty last week, throwing three interceptions. But the Washington defense is among the NFL’s elite, and the injuries to the Lions playmakers will limit Stafford’s ability to create scoring opportunities.
I’m backing Washington +4 and would do so down to 3.5.
Given Patricia’s shaky home record and a substandard Lions run defense, this is also a nice moneyline opportunity as well.
PICK: Washington +4