Freeze this moment in time: If the NFL season ended December 2, the NFC East champs Redskins would host the wild card Green Bay Packers in a playoff game at FedEx Field.
While things could change Thursday night when the Packers play the Detroit Lions, and it could certainly change when the Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys next Monday night, but for conversation's sake, let's envision the Redskins face the Packers in the playoffs. Who would Vegas install as the favorite, and what would the line be?
CSN reached out to the experts at Bovada.lv, and the results were interesting. The Redskins have excelled at home (5-1 at FedEx Field, winners of five straight), and Green Bay is slumping, losers of three of their last four games. What does that mean for Vegas though when Washington lines up Kirk Cousins and Green Bay sends out Aaron Rodgers?
Bovada installed the Packers as 3.5 favorites, lower than many might expect. Gambling rules dictate home field advantage is worth three points, so if this game was in Wisconsin the Redskins would be 6.5 point underdogs. Still, home underdogs have a recent history of performing well early in the playoffs, and the Vegas experts are suggesting that the Redskins would hold a tight playoff battle with the Packers win or lose.
Obviously in early December the NFL playoff situation remains quite fluid. Other teams currently in line for a Wild Card berth include a pair of 6-5 squads in Seattle and Atlanta. The Seahawks appear to be figuring things out at the right time, on a two-game win streak, and obviously coming off back to back Super Bowl appearances. Should the Redskins face the Seahawks in a Wild Card game (try to avoid flashbacks to RG3 writhing on the ground in pain in the 2012 Wild Card game), Bovada says the Seahawks would be 4.5 point favorites.
On the other end of the spectrum come the Falcons, who started the season strong but have lost four in a row. The Redskins lost in overtime in Atlanta in Week 5, but both teams look quite different two months later. Should the Redskins draw the Falcons, Washington would actually be favored to win by 3 points.
Point spreads for fictional games provide no actual value, but they are a good baseline to understand how the experts in Las Vegas view the Redskins. As for point spreads for actual games, the Redskins are favored by 4.5 points to beat Dallas on Monday night.
Still, the Packers just a 3.5 point favorite against the 'Skins in a Wild Card game seems juicy, a smaller number than expected and perhaps a telling line. Let us know what you think in the comments.