The Washington Football Team and New England Patriots will kick off the preseason on Thursday night. It's time to continue our NFL odds series and make a Washington-Patriots prediction and pick.
Both of these teams are intriguing in their own right. Washington managed to win the NFC East without a .500 record last season, but they had a good free agency period and an even better draft. The Football Team could certainly repeat as division champions, but things won't be so easy in their division this season. The Patriots are one of the most interesting teams in the NFL after a hyperactive free agency this offseason. New England completely reloaded on weapons and drafted quarterback Mac Jones in the first round, giving Cam Newton some competition for the starting job. New England is one of the hardest teams to predict in the NFL, so this preseason matchup should provide some insight to their plans.
Here's how the bookmakers have set the lines for Thursday's matchup.
NFL Odds: Washington Football Team-Patriots Odds
Washington Football Team -2 (-111)
New England Patriots +2 (-109)
Over 36 1/2 points (-115)
Under 36 1/2 points (-105)
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Why The Washington Football Team Could Win
Washington has already announced that the starters will see the field on Thursday, including quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Good quarterback play is sometimes all it takes to win a preseason game, so it's encouraging to know that Fitzpatrick will see the field. Backup Taylor Heinicke, who flashed in last year's postseason, will also take some snaps. Third-stringer Kyle Allen, who has plenty of regular-season starting experience in his career, should also play a significant amount. That gives the Football Team three quarterbacks who all have regular season experience playing against real NFL starters. That's a huge advantage in a preseason game where many players are not NFL-caliber defenders.
Washington's offensive line is another position of strength heading into this game. The Football Team's starting unit is a top-10 offensive line in the league, but their backups also make up a solid blocking unit. Three of their backup linemen have played significant snaps in regular season campaigns, including both offensive tackles. Whoever's in at quarterback for Washington should have a clean pocket for most of the game.
Why The Patriots Could Win
New England has been tight-lipped about its plans for this preseason matchup, so it's unknown if quarterback Cam Newton will make an appearance. Even if Cam doesn't play, the Patriots have a plethora of options at quarterback. Rookie Mac Jones is almost sure to see the field in this one, as is backup extraordinaire Brian Hoyer. Both should make the easy plays and take care of the football, which is usually enough to contend in a preseason game.
While the Patriots stacked their roster with offensive players in free agency, their defense still has great depth. New England's secondary is loaded with players who have tons of regular-season experience, and their front seven has a couple of exciting young players. The Patriots should be able to deploy NFL-level defenders throughout this entire preseason game, which is something that most teams can't say. This defense is always incredibly well-coached, so they should be able to leave their mark on this game.
Final Washington-Patriots Prediction & Pick
The Washington moneyline is a solid pick here, but it's not the best one on the board. The under is pretty much a no-brainer here for a couple of reasons. Teams always score far less in the preseason, as the focus is on individual player development and not the team's offensive success. Both of these squads are well-coached throughout, but especially on defense, and both have the personnel to put together a strong defensive showing.
FINAL PICK: Under 36 points (-110)