The Washington Football Team comes into this game in complete control of their own football destiny, as a win here would give them the NFC title and playoff berth. It’s a crazy scenario considering the Football Team has played the year without a logo or name, started the season 2-7 and just recently cut the QB who started the first four games for them (and the last two). As Bill Murray once said, in one of the greatest movies of all-time, it’s a “Cinderella story, out of nowhere”.
Jokes aside, this won’t be a cakewalk. Philadelphia has been a tougher opponent at home as the now eliminated Eagles have gone 4-3 ATS at home and have also seen three of their four wins on the season come in Philly as well. The Eagles are coming off of back-to-back losses but it was only two weeks ago that they shocked the high-riding Saints with a dominant 24-21 home win. The win against the Saints allowed the Eagles to make a run of their own at the NFC East title but they fell short against the Cowboys last week. Despite that, the insertion of Jalen Hurts at QB means that Washington’s pass rush here might not be as big a factor if the more statuesque–and turnover prone–Carson Wentz was in at QB.
Hurts has had some turnover issues of his own, but the Eagles have been competitive with him in two of the last three games and he’s responsible for their biggest win of the year.
The bigger QB story this week though might be on the Washington side. After some limited practices all week, Alex Smith–who sat out the last two games with a calf injury–is now on track to start this massive game for the franchise. Smith has provided stability for a team who really only needs its QB to not turnover the ball given that their defense is one of the best in the league. Washington is 4-2 with Smith at QB and was on a four game winning streak before he got injured. Philly can get after it with their pass rush too though and rank fourth in the league in sacks, so if Smith is truly limited here it could be a long day for the Football Team’s offense.
The Eagles have truly been one of the worst teams in the league against the spread this year, going 5-10 ATS on the season. It’s worth noting though that the Eagles have also been far better at home, going 4-3 ATS at home on the year, while Washington is just 3-3 ATS as the away team. The under here also has some appeal as the WFT has just a 5-10 record on the overs this year, while Philly is just 7-8. The 43.5 total here isn’t big but it’s also not overly small for two teams who rank in the bottom-12 of the league for points scored, per game.
- Miles Sanders – Out
- Fletcher Cox – Out
- Dallas Goedert – Out
- Derek Barnett – Out
- DeSean Jackson – Out
The Football Team
- Antonio Gibson – Questionable
- Terry McLaurin – Questionable
- Alex Smith – Questionable
Washington offense vs Eagles defense
Washington comes into this game having scored 23 or fewer points in four straight games. Their offense has been banged up with Antonio Gibson, Alex Smith, and Terry McLaurin–arguably their three best offensive players–all banged up over the past four games. It is possible that the Football Team will be getting all three of these players on the field for this week which would be a big boost to their chances. As noted above, Smith is likely the biggest difference maker here, simply due to the position he plays, as the Football Team has put up a 4-2 record with him under centre this year.
Washington is bottom-10 in both rush and passing yards per game but they had produced well above 130-rush yards per game in Week’s 11 and 12, which is the last time Antonio Gibson was fully healthy and played a full game. Gibson played limited snaps last week–mainly due to the offense being terrible under Dwayne Haskins–but should suit up here and will likely be a difference maker if he does. Philly’s rush defense hasn’t been as dominant towards the end of the season as they’ve allowed 100+ yard rushers now in three of their last six games. With their best interior lineman out here in Fletcher Cox, Washington has a chance to control this game on the ground and let their defense do the heavy lifting.
For the Eagles, the key here will be bottling up the run a bit and then getting pressure on Alex Smith. Washington QBs have been sacked the fourth-most times in the league this year so even with a depleted D-Line, the matchup here is good for Philly. Expect a back and forth battle when these units are on the field, with Washington’s ability to “establish the run” early, potentially making the difference.
Eagles offense vs Washington defense
The Eagles were coming off of two solid games on offense before last week’s debacle versus the Cowboys. Philly couldn’t capitalize on a couple of early scores in that game as they produced just three points after the first quarter. They’ll also be down multiple weapons here as Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders and Desean Jackson will all be missing this game. That won’t help Jalen Hurts, but it may not be enough to stop him either. Hurts’ turnovers last week came mostly in garbage time against Dallas and he was still effective as a rusher, gaining 69-yards, his third straight game with over 60-yards rushing.
The Eagles will still have Boston Scott and Zach Ertz suiting up in this game and DJax’s absence will also give rookie Jalen Reagor another shot at establishing himself as the future outside threat this team desperately needs. It’s understandable why people may be down on the Eagles after getting popped by Dallas last week, but don’t forget that they were able to put up
24+ points in the prior two weeks against two solid defenses in Arizona and New Orleans.
Despite the Eagles ability to show some fight now that Hurts is under centre, the edge here is still with Washington. The Football Team has allowed just 20-points against in each of its last two games, and that’s with Dwayne Haskins coughing up the ball at terrible spots in the field. Washington continues to get good effort from it’s first round pick in Chase Young and ranks 6th in sacks per game. Washington also has been near impossible to pass on this year–allowing under 200-yards in the air per game–so expect Philly to use Boston Scott, Hurts, Corey Clement, and even Reagor on rush plays as much as possible to counteract that.
Philly’s a good enough running team after the QB change to move the ball here although we shouldn’t expect many home run plays. If Washington can get to Hurts early–and stop him from escaping the pocket on the regular–the Eagles will likely have trouble matching the 17-points they put against Dallas last week.
Game and prop bets
Bet: Eagles +3.5
The Eagles remind me a bit of the Chargers in that they’re terrible at winning/closing out football games, but with a dynamic young QB now at the helm, they’ve been more competitive and a much tougher opponent of late. The Football Team has one of the best defenses in the league right now but they are going to be hard pressed to score points themselves here. Alex Smith is going up against a tough pass rush himself–while dealing with a calf injury–as the Eagles rank fourth in sacks per game coming in. This was a team who managed to take down Taysom Hill five times the last time they played at home and could cause problems for Smith who will be more immobile than usual here.
With all the factors in play here, and the Eagles really coming in carefree and without any pressure, asking the Football Team to cover more than three-points in this spot feels like asking for trouble. Philly will probably find a way to blow this but, despite a 5-10 regular season Against the Spread record in 2020, they do come in with a 4-3 ATS record at home and seem likely to keep this game dramatic and close to the very end. Washington has been the better ATS team this year but are only 3-3 ATS on the road, so even the trends favour the Eagles slightly here for a cover. Take the +3.5 and force a non-100% Alex Smith to beat you against a decent Eagles D-Line.
Hurts has hit this over in two of three games and even last week, he reached nine attempts in a game where the Eagles were behind for the entire fourth quarter. This projects to be a close game versus Washington and Hurts averaged 14.5 rush attempts in his first two games which were both closely contested contests. The pass rush from Washington should also force a couple quick extra scrambles here and the fact Hurts rushed 18-times versus another good pass rush in the Saints is telling. The total here has come up since his debut but it’s still too low.
Neither team features a very efficient offense. The Football Team ranks just 22nd in red zone efficiency on the year and comes into this game with a banged up Alex Smith likely at the helm. In three of Smith’s last four starts, the WFT scored 23 points or less. The Eagles only have an average red zone offense but they’re going up against one of the best red zone defenses in the WFT. They rank 3rd in red zone defensive efficiency so TDs won’t be easy for the Eagles to come by if and when they start to move the ball downfield. The plus money here seems worth it in what should be a tight, close scoring affair.
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