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Vegas changes course in setting early line for Redskins vs Packers

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Vegas changes course in setting early line for Redskins vs Packers

After weeks of being underdogs by the Las Vegas experts, the trends are turning with the Redskins set to host the Packers in the Wild Card playoff round next Sunday.

For four weeks as part of their NFC East title run, the Redskins were getting points against teams like Buffalo and Philadelphia. Even in a Week 17 matchup against the lowly Cowboys, Vegas considered the Redskins underdogs. None of it mattered though as Washington continued to roll off win after win. 

So now with Green Bay coming to FedEx Field for a Wild Card round matchup, Vegas actually likes the 'Skins. Or they did at least, briefly.

The Pinnacle Sports Group opened the game with a line of Redskins -2 against Green Bay, before action quickly moved the line to a pick 'em. It appears to have settled there, depending where you look. The Westgate Resort has the 'Skins a 1-point favorite.

MORE REDSKINS: NEW STADIUM COMING? BUT WHERE?

Obviously, these lines are fluid and move as more bets come in. It's interesting to note the difference in the early lines for the actual playoff matchup compared to hypothetical lines set last week. Prior to Week 17, Bovada.lv provided CSN with lines for all three potential Redskins Wild Card opponents: Seattle, Minnesota and Green Bay. Bovada had the Redskins as home dogs in all three, with the Seahawks favored by 7 and both the Packers and Vikings favored by 3. 

What happened in between? Well, Green Bay lost at home to Minnesota, and perhaps more impactful, again their offense looked pedestrian. While Aaron Rodgers and crew made the final result tense, had the Vikings' Cordarrelle Patterson held on to the ball on a late kickoff return, the game likely would have ended without drama. 

And it's not just that the Packers come into the game losers of two straight.

Kirk Cousins and the Redskins come in hot, winners of four in a row and with a high-octane pass offense. Against the Cowboys, Cousins threw for nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns in less than a half. In his last 10 quarters, Cousins has totaled 12 TDs with zero turnovers, all the while breaking just about every meaningful Redskins passing record. 

Washington is hot, and Green Bay is not. Yet, the Redskins are already not favored to win, and by game time next Sunday, it seems highly possible will again be underdogs. After their four-game win streak, that might be just the way the 'Skins like it.

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A day after loss to Redskins, Cowboys trade for Raiders WR Amari Cooper

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A day after loss to Redskins, Cowboys trade for Raiders WR Amari Cooper

The Dallas Cowboys are in desperate need of a playmaking wide receiver. The lack of talent at wide receiver has been evident throughout the first seven weeks of the 2018 NFL season, with wide receivers accounting for just five of the Cowboys' eight passing touchdowns.

Following the 20-17 loss to the Redskins on Sunday, the Cowboys decided to make a quick fix, trading a 2019 first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for star wide receiver Amari Cooper, according to multiple reports.

Cooper, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, has just 22 catches for 280 yards and one touchdown in the first six games. The former Alabama star had an equally disappointing 2017 campaign and has grown frustrated with his role in John Gruden's new regime.

Cooper will instantly become the Cowboys best deep threat and will allow Cole Beasley to shine both in the slot and spread out wide. Beasley leads the Cowboys with 33 receptions for 350 yards and two touchdowns.

Rookie Michael Gallup, who scored the Cowboys' only passing touchdown against the Redskins, has the second most targets among Dallas receivers, hauling in 10 of his 22 targets for 190 yards. Tight end Geoff Swaim has 19 catches for 205 yards and running back Ezekiel Elliott has 25 catches for 175 yards.

Prescott is averaging just 202.2 passing yards per game, and while Cooper may not be a true top-tier wide receiver, he is the next best thing and will allow the offense to be more dynamic in its play-calling.

Cooper will make an estimated $13.9 million in base salary in 2019, meaning the Cowboys will have to pay a pretty penny to keep him.

The move makes it clear that the Raiders are shifting toward a full rebuild. It also shows that Dallas understands it didn't have enough firepower to compete for a divisional title.

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Josh Norman compares Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen to 'army tanks'

Josh Norman compares Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen to 'army tanks'

In consecutive weeks, the Redskins held two of the best running backs in the NFL to laughable totals. 

On Sunday, the Redskins limited Ezekiel Elliott to just 33 rushing yards. Zeke's second half was fairly successful compared to the first, where he rushed for only 13 yards. In Week 6, the Redskins limited Christian McCaffrey to just 20 yards rushing. 

Fantasy owners of Elliott and McCaffrey are probably cursing the Washington defense, but for Redskins fans, this is an exciting time. The Burgundy and Gold defense has generated five turnovers in their last two games, both wins, and held the opposition to 17 points in each game. 

Plenty of players are playing well, but much of the defensive success starts up front. And that means Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen. First-round picks out of the University of Alabama in consecutive drafts, the two defensive tackles are starting to really be a force up the middle for Greg Manusky's defense. 

"These guys are more compact, like some army tanks," cornerback Josh Norman said of Payne and Allen.

"I love, love having tackles that can get people up off the ball and move them."

So far, the Redskins run defense looks nothing like the same group from last season. Injuries betrayed the Redskins strong defensive start last year, and the units rankings plumetted. The Redskins finished with the worst run defense in the NFL.

That has flipped upside down, and it showed big-time in the win over Dallas.

"You're talking about an excellent running back, a great running quarterback, a physical quarterback, big offensive line," Washington coach Jay Gruden explained about the Cowboys. "And those
guys kept it going. Not only were they stopping the run but they had to rush the passer there nonstop at the end of the game."

For Allen and Payne, the recognition means little. 

Asked about his big game on Monday, notching his third sack of the season and beating the Cowboys for the first time in his NFL career, Allen replied with a stone face. 

"The way we look at it we only have fun when we’re winning," he said. 

Well, for two weeks in a row Allen could have fun. Even if he doesn't seem to be enjoying it too much.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett certainly didn't seem to enjoy facing Payne or Allen.

"Obviously they did a good job defending our run," Garrett said. "We tried to attack in a lot of different ways and they defended it well."

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