Washington Football Team vs. Philadelphia Eagle Pick
Washington Football Team (6-9 SU, 9-6 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1 SU, 5-10 ATS)
When: Sunday, January 3, 1 p.m.
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Point Spread: WAS -4/PHI +4 (Get the best sportsbook bonus >>>)
Total: O/U 43.5
This might be the worst division race in NFL history, but at least it’s straightforward, as opposed to the advanced calculus and logic required to figure out who might do what in the AFC. Washington knows it’s either going to win and host a playoff game, or its season will be over with ten losses. On the other hand, Philadelphia will be out to spoil the party and hand the division to either the Cowboys or the Giants, depending on who wins the early game in the NFC Least — I mean, East. The Eagles can’t win the division, but they can take down Washington, and with Jalen Hurts playing for a starting position next season, that’s a nice thing to aim for from their perspective.
Actually, the Eagles are likely the team with a more stable situation right now, as they at least know who their quarterback is going to be. Washington, on the other hand, isn’t sure whether Alex Smith will be healthy enough to start, or they’ll have to hand the ball to Taylor Heinicke, who began the year as the backup quarterback for the St. Louis BattleHawks of the suspended XFL. Even though it’s now 2021, does it get more 2020 than this matchup?
How the Public is Betting the Washington/Philadelphia Game
The public is planning on the Eagles spoiling the party, as 56 percent of tickets have come in on the Eagles. However, the money seems to be siding with the Football Team, as the line has reversed from an opening of Philadelphia -4 to Washington as high as -4 with thje news that QB Alex Smith may play..
Defensive tackle Tim Settle (shoulder), guard Wes Schweitzer (hip), running back Antonio Gibson (toe), linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (ankle), quarterback Alex Smith (leg), and linebacker Thomas Davis (personal) are questionable. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin (ankle) is doubtful, while Shaun Dion Hamilton (elbow), safety DeShazor Everett (pectoral), and running back Bryce Love (knee) are out.
Wide receiver Quez Watkins (ribs), defensive back Michael Jaquet III (calf), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (ankle), linebacker Davion Taylor (knee), running back Jason Huntley (illness), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (stinger), tight end Richard Rodgers (shin), defensive end Derek Barnett (calf), linebacker Duke Riley (bicep), tackle Jordan Mailata (concussion), tight end Dallas Goedert (ankle) and linebacker Shaun Bradley (shoulder) are questionable. Cornerback Kevon Seymour (knee), defensive end Josh Sweat (wrist), and safety Rodney McLeod (knee) are out.
When Washington Has the Ball
If Smith is on the field, this actually might not be that bad. If it’s Heinicke, shield your children’s eyes. There’s a reason that Heinicke wasn’t good enough to start for the BattleHawks, and it’s not that St. Louis was setting the XFL on fire. And that’s before you throw in that running back Antonio Gibson and wide receiver Terry McLaurin might or might not be on the field. If they’re not on the field, J.D. McKissic will have to take on a much bigger role in the offense, as he’s been a solid dual-threat that Smith or Heinicke can rely on to get them out of trouble.
However, even if the Football Team is fully healthy, this isn’t an offense that has gotten the job done much this season. Washington hasn’t scored more than 23 points since Thanksgiving, a game that saw rival Dallas throw in the towel and create this situation. Washington is rather fortunate to have a strong defense that can keep the scores low, because this is an offense that isn’t built to come from behind.
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When Philadelphia Has the Ball
Moving the ball isn’t the problem for Philadelphia anymore, as Jalen Hurts seems to be establishing himself as a solid option for the future. He’s got to work on his decision-making a bit after two interceptions and two fumbles against Dallas, but that’s something you could say about any rookie quarterback. The more concerning thing for the Eagles is that Miles Sanders seemed to run out of steam against the Cowboys and wasn’t able to get the job done for more than 57 yards on 15 carries.
Washington defends both run and pass reasonably well, but the Football Team hasn’t really faced a running quarterback like Hurts over the past month. The closest thing Washington has gone up against is Russell Wilson, but Hurts is more likely to take off than Wilson is, and the Seahawks have better weapons at the receiver spots than the Eagles do. This is likely to be another low-scoring game that features Hurts moving the ball on the ground, especially with him likely missing the full complement of three of his best pass-catchers.
Finishing strong has not been the Football Team’s strong suit, as Washington has failed to cover in its final regular-season game in its past four seasons. In fairness to the Football Team, though, this is the first time that they’ve gone into the final match with anything to play for since 2016, their last division championship. The Eagles, on the other hand, usually do have something to play for and excel at finishing strong, closing out five of their past six seasons with an ATS win in Week 17. Philadelphia has also covered in four of five at home, while Washington has managed a cover in five of its past six overall.
As for the total, long-term history says to expect points, but short-term history says that’s a bad idea. The over is 5-1 in the past six matchups in Philadelphia, but the under is 21-8 in the Eagles’ last 29 home games. The under has also gone 8-0 this season when the Football team has played on grass.
This could be an ugly day for football, with rain in the forecast all day long and temperatures falling to 36 degrees around kickoff. Wind will blow north-northwest at 7 miles per hour.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
Washington just has too many questions to be favored for me, even though the Football Team is the one with something to play for. Hurts has a lot to play for himself, and the Eagles seem to be a different team with him on the field. I expect this game to be low-scoring, and with Hurts giving the Eagles that X-Factor, I like Philadelphia’s chances to steal the division for either Dallas or New York.
I’m taking the Eagles to win this one outright.
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