For the first time ever(?) an NFL team will take the field without a nickname when the Washington Football Team -- the former Redskins will have a nickname for the 2021 campaign -- open at home against the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday with Washington one of the bigger home underdogs on the board at +5.5 on the NFL odds, although it opened as high as +6.5. Washington looks to snap a six-game losing streak vs. the Eagles and a 10-game overall skid vs. division rivals.
Washington isn't expected to be very good this year under new head coach Ron Rivera, so perhaps not a huge shock it is one of two teams without a scheduled prime-time game -- the Detroit Lions are the other. All but three of Washington's games are at 1 p.m. ET, although the team will be on national TV on Thanksgiving in Dallas. It's the fourth time in the past five seasons that WFT plays on Turkey Day. The team is 3-8 all-time on the holiday (last win in 2017 vs. Giants).
Maybe it's a good thing that Washington will not play on Monday night, a franchise first since 1999. Since 2010, the WFT has lost 13 of its past 15 games on Monday nights.
In one stretch, WFT plays four games out of five at home and the only away is a short flight to the New York Giants. That catches up with Washington at the end, though, with four of its final six on the road. The toughest stretch likely begins on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys, followed by trips to Pittsburgh and San Francisco and a home game vs. Seattle.
Washington lost nine of its first 10 games in 2019, with the only win a one-point victory as a six-point road favorite at Miami. WFT was a double-digit underdog in half its games, going 1-7 SU but 5-2 ATS. It beat beat the Panthers 29-21 as a 10.5-point road underdog in Week 13 (Rivera was fired after that game). Washington scored more than 20 points just five times, but the Over hit eight times as the defense ranked 27th in allowing more than 27 points per game.
Rivera will go with second-year Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, and the team made several key additions to the defense, including No. 2 overall pick Chase Young.
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM BETTING PROFILE
WILLIAM HILL 2020 WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM FUTURES ODDS
2019 record: 3-13 (last, NFC East)
2019 against the spread: 6-10 ATS
2019 ATS margin: -3.2
2019 Over-Under: 8-8 O-U
2020 strength of schedule: Fifth-easiest; WFT opponents combined for a .465 winning percentage last year (135-120-1).
WILLIAM HILL 2020 WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM FUTURES ODDS
Win total: 5.5 (Under -125)
To make playoffs: No +650, yes -1000
Division: +1100 to win NFC East
Conference: +10000 to win NFC
Super Bowl: +20000 to win SB 55
MVP: DE Chase Young +10000, QB Dwayne Haskins +15000
Defensive ROY: DE Chase Young +350
Comeback POY: QB Alex Smith +2200
Coach of the Year: Ron Rivera +2500
SportsLine Model's projection: 5.1 wins (Lean to the Under)
Week 1 vs. Philadelphia, 1 PM ET: Washington has been a home underdog in this matchup six years in a row, going 3-3 SU and ATS.
Week 2 at Arizona, 4:05 PM ET: The Under is 5-2 in the past seven, and the WFT is 3-2 SU and ATS in the past five.
Week 3 at Cleveland, 1 PM ET: Washington has won as an underdog in two straight but is 2-5 ATS on the road vs. the AFC North since 2004.
Week 4 vs. Baltimore, 1 PM ET: The teams have alternated wins (and covers) in four meetings at Washington since the Ravens relocated.
Week 5 vs. LA Rams, 1 PM ET: The Rams are 3-2 ATS in the past five meetings at Washington, and the Under is 5-0.
Week 6 at NY Giants, 1 PM ET: The Skins 2-5 SU and ATS in the past seven road matchups, with each loss by at least eight points.
Week 7 vs. Dallas, 1 PM ET: The Cowboys are 5-1 SU and ATS in the last six at the WFT.
Week 8 BYE: Washington is 2-8 after the bye week over the past 10 seasons.
Week 9 vs. NY Giants, 1 PM ET: The Giants are 5-2 SU and ATS in the past seven meetings at Washington.
Week 10 at Detroit, 1 PM ET: Washington's second victory of last season, as a four-point underdog, broke an 0-4 SU and ATS slide dating to 2009 vs. Lions.
Week 11 vs. Cincinnati, 1 PM ET: A 27-27 tie in London in 2017 in the last meeting broke a three-game slide ATS for the WFT, which was a 3-point underdog as the "home" team.
Week 12 at Dallas, 1 ET (Thanksgiving): The WFT has been favored once on the road in this rivalry in the past 15 years (losing that 2017 matchup 38-14), but it is are 10-5 ATS.
Week 13 at Pittsburgh, 1 PM ET: Pittsburgh has won four in a row at home in series but the WFT covered in two.
Week 14 at San Francisco, 1 ET: WFT has been the underdog in six straight on the road vs. the NFC West but won the last three, going 4-2 ATS.
Week 15 vs. Seattle, 1 PM ET: The WFT is 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS in the past eight regular-season meetings.
Week 16 vs. Carolina, 1 PM ET: The underdog has won the last five meetings in Washington, with the WFT winning three times as a home dog.
Week 17 at Philadelphia, 4:25 PM ET: Washington has covered six of its past 10 in Philly, including in Week 1 loss last year.
EXPERT PICK FROM SUPERCONTEST GURU R.J. WHITE: Under 5.5 wins (-125)
Rivera has a great resume, but turning this team into a winner would be his biggest accomplishment to date. If Haskins proves he's a franchise QB, it won't be due to the weapons around him, a group that starts and ends with Terry McLaurin. The offensive line is still an issue as well. The defense will also have to transition to a 4-3, a switch that typically takes teams a year to pull off successfully. I do think that the schedule has six winnable games, considering the WFT gets to play the Bengals and Panthers at home, the Lions on the road, and the Giants twice. But the WFT has to have the talent to take advantage, and I'm not sure it does, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
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