Originally posted on The Football Fan Spot  |  Last updated 9/28/12

Washington Redskins (1-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)

The Buccaneers are one of the few teams I’ve had as underrated before the season that’s actually become overrated 3 weeks into it. The Buccaneers have hung tough, on the scoreboard, with the Giants and Cowboys and beat the Panthers, but they’re not playing that well. They rank dead last in the league in yards per play differential, with a -2.0. No other team has one worse than -1.0. They’ve had a tough schedule, but they’ve looked completely inept on both sides of the ball. They’re winning the turnover battle (+4), but you can’t rely on that going forward. They’ve also lost starting defensive end Adrian Clayborn for the season.

Speaking of yards per play differential, the Redskins are that team with the -1.0, ranking 31st only ahead of Tampa Bay. Robert Griffin is the real deal, but whatever little help he had to begin with is getting hurt. Brian Orakpo’s and Adam Carriker’s absence on defense has led to them getting torched defensively by the Rams and the Bengals in the last two games and Trent Williams’ and Pierre Garcon’s injuries have left Griffin running for his life and without his top receiver.

Orakpo and Carriker are done for the year and both Williams and Garcon are expected to miss this week. However, the good news for the Redskins is that the Buccaneers pass defense is atrocious. They were the league’s 31st ranked pass defense last year and they rank 29th this year. Offseason additions of Eric Wright and Mark Barron haven’t really helped, and injuries have destroyed their pass rush.

Already missing Da’Quan Bowers likely for the season, the Buccaneers lost Adrian Clayborn for the year last week. Michael Bennett and Gerald McCoy can get the quarterback on that defensive line, but that’s it. Taking Clayborn’s place this week will be Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, a career journeyman who has never done anything of note. Even though Griffin’s offensive line is horrendous, he should still be able to buy himself enough time with his mobility to get the ball to his receivers. Even without Garcon, this group of receivers should have an advantage against Tampa Bay’s defensive backs. Like they have in every game, the Redskins, who rank 1st in the league in scoring, should light up the scoreboard this week.

However, like they have in every game, the Redskins will struggle to play defense. They rank 30th in the league, allowing 33.7 points per game, .7 more than they score, and dead last in opponent’s yards per play, despite playing Andy Dalton and Sam Bradford in the last 2 weeks. Fortunately, the Buccaneers rank dead last in yards per play so they don’t have the personnel to take advantage of this easy matchup.

At the end of the day, the Buccaneers are terrible on both sides of the ball, while the Redskins struggle defensively, but can score points because Robert Griffin is incredibly talented, even with lack of help. I’ve gone into detail about these two teams’ yards per play differentials. The difference between these two teams’ differentials is 1 yard per play. An old gambling formula says to divide that by .15 and then add 3 either way to get the “real line.” That suggests that this line should be -3.5 in favor of the Redskins. Obviously, it’s a little bit more accurate later in the season, but it’s definitely worth noting. 6 points of line value is nothing to sneeze at. I hate taking publicly backed dogs, especially when there are no applicable trends, but it’s a small play on the Redskins in this one.

Public lean: Washington (new thing I’m adding, siding with the odds makers on bets is not a bad thing to do since they make so much money, so I’m listing this here to allow readers to “fade” the public, if they so choose, in this example, the odds makers win if Tampa Bay covers)

Washington Redskins 31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 Upset Pick +115

Pick against spread: Washington +2.5 (-110) 2 units


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