Tuesday August 20th, Analysts at the cover32.com downgraded their rating of the Washington Redskins (NFCE: WAS), dropping them from 13th to the 23rd in their weekly power rankings. Cover32-Redskins analysts have attributed the drop to news that Kirk Cousins had sustained a sprained right foot in Monday Night's preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cover32 currently has a price target of miss the playoffs for the Redskins.
Okay, "WAS" is not actually a stock that you can buy shares of - at least not in the traditional sense. The Redskins are, however, something in which you can invest. Just like a stock, you can stake your claim right now during this time of elevated doubt, watch the team dominate like you expect, and then finally reap the financial rewards you deserve for holding onto your conviction.
How you ask? Why through the magic of gambling, of course.
Those that lay the lines in Vegas are thinking on similar, if not identical lines to the cover32 senior editors - that is, they are wildly overstating the team's injury worries.
The Redskins are better than the 23rd best team in the league with or without Robert Griffin III. Moreover, they are better than the 23rd best team in the league without Griffin III or Kirk Cousins available.
Wait what if Griffin and Cousins can't play - how will life go on?? - says the Redskins doomsdayer.
I'll tell you what if.
In the unlikely scenario that Griffin and Cousins can't play for a game or any stretch of time, Rex Grossman III, a 32 year-old NFL veteran who has won 25 of the 47 games he has started in his career, will walk into a team that boasts by far the best supporting cast Grossman has every played with. To put it simply, the pudgy Gator has never played with a wide receiver as good as Pierre Garcon, or a running back as good as Alfred Morris. Really, he has never played behind a lineman as good as Trent Williams has become.
No, no, Grossman won't become Johnny Unitas over night. But I don't expect all the fantastic things going on right now with the Redskins offense to poof into thin air either.
If we take a cue from the history of financial markets, we see that fear and uncertainty is actually a buyer best friends in the long-term.
Over the past five years, by far the best times to have bought into stocks has been at times of the greatest public uncertainty. The summer 2011 debt-ceiling crisis, the weeks before the 2012 presidential election, the days before the sequester this past March - in hindsight we can see empirically that each of these occasions represented excellent opportunities to buy into vastly oversold equities. Once each of these big bad events passed, reason replaced panic and the markets corrected - moving very quickly to the good.
That's what we have here with the Redskins - an excellent buying opportunity. Redskins' futures are being kept unreasonably low simply by the fact that Robert Griffin III has not yet been cleared to play by doctor James Andrews. Griffin will be cleared at some point in the next couple weeks. Now is the time to take advantage.
Right now, according to Vegas Insider, the Redskins are getting 25 to 1 odds to win the Super Bowl. Back in early May - when there was significantly more uncertainty about the health of Robert Griffin's knee - the Redskins were getting 40 to 1 win it all, barely up from the 50 to 1 odds they were getting at the beginning of last season.
Working out the numbers, we see that Griffin's much publicized run of getting healthier has corresponded to a 60% rise in the Redskins implied odds of winning the SB over the past three months. Those same odds I believe still have lots of room to run.
Granted, the Redskins winning the whole thing is what we call a speculative bet. Even if the true odds of the Redskins winning the SB in NYC were actually 50/50 - there would still be a very good chance that you're going lose any and all the money you place in that bet.
So what do we do to decrease risk? We diversify. Thankfully, the implied odds of the Redskins regular season aspirations have not nearly kept up with developments as fast as their SB odds have done.
Here are the consensus early odds for the first 16 weeks of the Redskins 2013 season (according to Vegas Insider)
1. WAS (-4.5) vs. PHI
2. WAS (+4.5) @GB
3. WAS (-2.5) vs. DET
4. WAS (-4) vs. OAK
5. WAS (+1.5) @DAL
6. WAS (-1.5) vs. CHI
7. WAS (+6) @ DEN
8. WAS (-3.5) vs. SD
9. WAS (1.5) @ MIN
10. WAS (PK) @ PHI
11. WAS (+1.5) vs. SFO
12. WAS (-1.5) vs. NYG
13. WAS (-4.5) vs. KC
14. WAS (+3) @ATL
15. WAS (-2.5) vs. DAL
(16. WAS @ NYG - No line.)
(The pluses represent games Vegas expects the Redskins to lose. The minuses are games they are expected to win. And Vegas thinks the Redskins are an even-money shot to beat the Eagles in Philadelphia.)
Even though I feel stronger about some of these lines than others, I'm going to refrain from highlighting which ones I think are the best bets here.
Just like it's close to impossible to time the short-term ups and downs of the stock market, it's nearly impossible to know when a good team is going to play a bad game - or vice a versa. So instead of picking out hot spots for your money, I advise any serious investor to buy the whole slate here, spreading their bets outs evenly over each of these 15 games.
According to these odds, Vegas expects the Redskins to go 8-6-1 in their first 15 games, a rather mediocre record.
Think about it: Do you think the Redskins - a team that averaged over 7 yards per passing play and nearly 5 yards per running play; a team that had a league low 14 turnovers with a rookie QB - do you think they are middle of the pack?
What I think the odd makers are not taking into nearly enough consideration is that all of the Redskins stand out 22-year-olds from last season are 23 now - and still getting smarter, stronger, better every day. The uncertainty of Griffin's - and now Cousin's - health is a problem for the Redskins PR department. For the savvy sports fan, it's just a beautiful opportunity for profit.
***Bonus: Here are my best bets on early odds for the rest of the leagues in 2013:
@TAM (-1.5) over NYJ
GNB (pk) over @CIN
NYG (-1) over @CAR
@STL (+4) over SFO
Reasoning: Saint Louis played the 49ers as well as anybody during the regular season last year, tying them on the road and beating them in overtime at home.
NWE (-1.5) over @CIN
Reasoning: Over the past 15 seasons no franchise has enjoyed more consistent success than New England. Over the past 15 seasons no franchise has enjoyed less consistent success than Cincinnati.
GNB (+1) over @BAL
Reasoning: -Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the NFL. An up and down team throughout the 2012 regular season, the Ravens are not bringing enough of their core back for us to assume their SB winning quality of play will carry over into 2013.
@NWE (-7) over MIA
NWE (-2) over @MIA
Reasoning: See Week 8.
NWE (pk) over BAL
Reasoning: See Week 6
(Mackenzie Rivers does not hold any outstanding bets on any team, game or player mentioned in this article.)