The Washington Football Team vs. Las Vegas Raiders might not be the most appealing game in Week 13 from a viewing standpoint, but it has massive playoff implications. Both teams need a victory to maintain their hold on possible postseason contention. There are few “must-win” situations this early, but this game is crucial for the Raiders’ playoff hopes, given the AFC logjam they face. Here are the NFL odds and a prediction for the Washington vs. Raiders Week 13 matchup.
Washington Football Team vs. Las Vegas Raiders storylines
The Football Team is on a nice three-game winning streak that started with a surprising upset of the defending Super Bowl champions. Could they really go from 2-6 to a Wild Card team in the final stretch of the season? Even in a bad NFC, that would be impressive.
The other question surrounds the Raiders. Can they get back on track? They have not played well offensively for a long time now. Will Derek Carr and the passing attack get back on their feet enough to make up for their non-existent rushing game?
Taylor Heinicke’s huge month
I certainly never thought I’d say this, but Taylor Heinicke had arguably the best month of any quarterback in the NFL in November. He completed 13% more passes than expected during his three November games.
Losing out on one game in the month because of a bye week skews the sample size, but he was so much more efficient than anybody else that unless he absolutely soiled himself in a fourth game, he would have still finished towards the top.
I’ve always been complimentary of Heinicke’s intangibles on the field. His toughness and propensity to execute in big moments feel tangible. But he’s always been a scattershot thrower with a weak arm by NFL standards, and he’s too aggressive for his poor physical tools.
Still, Heinicke found success over a three-game stretch against two excellent defenses and the Seahawks. But it was the lack of misses that impressed me the most over the past three weeks. I can’t guarantee it continues, and the Football Team is still firmly in the offseason QB market, but it has been fun to watch his November.
Could Washington make the playoffs?
At this point, we probably shouldn’t favor any other team for the No. 7 seed besides the Minnesota Vikings. Even then, I wouldn’t argue much for either side at the moment. There’s no point in arguing between two 5-6 teams. But when we look at the NFC, it at least appears that Atlanta, Carolina, and New Orleans, despite technically being in the mix, are pretenders. That leaves the Vikings, Eagles, and Washington.
I bring the Eagles up simply because they play Washington twice, and a sweep would go a long way toward their own playoff hopes. They also have games against the Jets and the Giants on tap.
A win against Las Vegas would be a major boost for Washington, who would have one game against Dallas and two apiece against their other divisional rivals, neither of which have winning records.
Meanwhile, Minnesota gets the Bears twice, along with the Steelers and Lions. But they also play the Rams and Packers, two games in which they’ll be underdogs. It will probably come down to the very end, but Washington emerged from the ashes to make themselves playoff contenders. Now, they have to hope their quarterback keeps playing well and the defense continues to survive.
Can Derek Carr and the Raiders right the ship?
That is a bit of a loaded question. Carr is not necessarily playing poorly. The issue is he’s not playing like the Superman he was early in the season, and the rushing attack is still at the Venetian playing 5-10 Pot Limit Omaha. That’s an organizational fault. They allowed this offensive line to disintegrate aside from Kolton Miller. They drafted Alex Leatherwood and immediately gave up on him as a tackle and slid him inside.
The biggest issue, however, is on defense. The Raiders regressed to where I believed they’d be before the start of the regular season. They were 11th in expected points added per play (EPA) allowed and eighth in defensive success rate through eight weeks.
Since then, they rank 31st in EPA/play allowed and are 30th in success rate. So please, before we crucify the quarterback, understand this defense has given up. They might turn it around against a Washington team that isn’t an offensive juggernaut, but the rest of their schedule is not kind.
I would be shocked if the Raiders somehow made the playoffs. But if they do, I’d be beyond impressed. Other teams have faced injuries, but no team has dealt with Las Vegas’ off-field distractions in 2021.
Washington Football Team vs. Las Vegas Raiders betting odds and score prediction
- Spread: Raiders -1.5 (Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
- Moneyline: Raiders -125, Football Team +105
- Total: 47.5
With the way road underdogs have performed this season, we’d probably be crazy to bet against Washington in this situation, especially given the roll they’re currently on. But if we believe in regression to the mean, we should at least acknowledge Heinicke probably doesn’t keep playing as well as he has.
Nonetheless, Las Vegas’ defensive strength is their edge rushers. Washington has performed well above expectation as a blocking unit. I think they’re a good matchup for the Raiders, and I believe they win this game.
Washington vs. Raiders Prediction: Washington 24, Raiders 23