December 31, 2021
The Eagles will visit FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon, just 12 days after hosting the Washington Football Team and picking up a crucial win at the Linc. But now, this matchup is suddenly the biggest of the season for Nick Sirianni's team, as they can lock up a playoff spot with a win and a few other dominoes falling their way. And they can do it with a week left to spare, something no one foresaw back when this season started in September.
Now, the Birds are going for their fourth straight win on Sunday and their seventh in their last nine games following a 2-5 start to the season, a turnaround that even has some making the case for Sirianni to be named Coach of the Year. Needless to say, the vibes are strong around this team.
But that can all change in an instant, and a loss to Washington on Sunday could bump the Eagles out of playoff position and leave them needing a Week 18 win over Dallas — and some help — to climb back into a wild card spot. So this is not a team the Birds should take lightly, especially since it's going to be a better team than the one they faced a week and a half ago, when Washington started Garrett Gilbert at quarterback.
As we do every week, we've rounded up a slew of predictions from both the local and national media to get an idea of how the experts see this Eagles vs. Washington matchup playing out — including a few against picks the spread. Let's dive right in...
• PhillyVoice: For the first time in nearly a month, our writers are not in agreement on the outcome of this game. However, it's still an overwhelming majority backing the Birds, including Kyle Neubeck, who has them winning 31-20. Here's more...
Another week, another matchup against a mediocre-or-worse quarterback for the Eagles. Their record against teams with questions in the passing game is nearly pristine this year, and though Washington should presumably be a bit healthier than they were for Tuesday Night Football, the Eagles are right on the doorstep of the playoffs, and will likely come into this game with plenty of juice as a result. And hey, if they start out looking like crap on offense again, Jalen Hurts and Co. have more than proven their ability to adjust and dominate second halves.
• Inquirer.com: Two of their three writers are taking the Eagles, but not Jeff McLane, who has Washington winning this one by a field goal, 23-20.
There’s no way the Eagles can blow it in Landover against a floundering squad, right? Well … probably not. But stranger things have happened. And it’s not as if they have played outstanding football over the past month, despite winning three of their last four. The Eagles have responded to slow starts with convincing second-half performances, but the Washington squad they beat 27-17 on Dec. 21 should have many players they were without 10 days ago, including their top two quarterbacks, top offensive lineman and several defensive starters. ...
I can see this matchup going either way. One way of viewing the Eagles’ inconsistent play of late is that if they finally get it together, they should breeze past Washington. Another is that this is who they are and that eventually an opponent will take advantage. I think Rivera is too good of a coach for his players to mail in the last few games. So I expect a bounce back. Washington certainly has enough talent to pull off the upset, and it’s not like there’s much separating the teams. So at the risk of being labeled a hater, I think the Eagles lose in a squeaker. If I’m wrong, this prediction will self-destruct.
• NJ.com: All five of their football writers are taking the Eagles in this one, including Birds beat writer Mike Kaye.
This is the most important game of the year for both teams. Washington is falling apart, while the Eagles are surging against a string of lowly teams. Even without starting running back Miles Sanders (hand), the Eagles are the more talented squad, and they should be able to run against Washington.
While Jalen Hurts has been a mixed bag over the past two weeks, this second matchup with Washington should give him opportunities to stand out as a passer. The Eagles need to start fast and finish strong. Depending on some other factors, if the Eagles win this game, they’ll get into the playoffs before Week 18.
PICK: Eagles 24, Washington 20
• Bleeding Green Nation: No surprises here as all seven BGN writers are picking the Birds to win this one.
• The Athletic: Both of their Eagles beat writers, Zach Berman and Bo Wulf, have the Eagles winning a one-score game on Sunday. Here's more from Berman:
This will be a tougher game than the Eagles have encountered in recent weeks — the point spread suggests it’s a pick ’em on a neutral field — but I like the way the Eagles’ trajectory compares with Washington’s. The Dallas loss was concerning. The Eagles are peaking at the right time, and a healthier Hurts should help the offense. Hurts’ legs must be a factor — especially with injuries in the backfield. The Eagles should control the lines of scrimmage as they did two weeks ago. It might not be pretty, but the Eagles will do enough to win. A 49ers win coupled with a Vikings loss will punch the Eagles’ ticket to the postseason. Philadelphia 23, Washington 19
• Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Eagles 28, Washington 17
I was flummoxed, floored, flabbergasted by this line. That's never a good sign because I'm a basic bro, and if I'm that surprised Philadelphia's only favored by 3, then many others probably are, too. The Eagles rarely put together complete games on offense, but they don't need to. When they start rolling downhill, they are one of the most unstoppable groups in the league. Even with players back on Washington's roster from the COVID-19 list, injuries have decimated the Football Team defense. Taylor Heinicke's glass slipper no longer fits, and the WFT has the profile of a 4-11 squad that is no longer punching above its weight.
• ESPN: Nine of their 11 experts are picking Philly to win this game.
• Tim McManus, ESPN: Eagles 26, Washington 23
• John Keim, ESPN: Washington 21, Eagles 20
• Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Eagles 23, Washington 14
If the Eagles win their last two, they are in the playoffs. That makes this a huge game for them. The Eagles blew out Washington two weeks ago with their rushing attack, which will key this game as well. The Washington defense is struggling and Jalen Hurts will take advantage of that. Eagles will keep it rolling.
• ProFootballTalk: Both Mike Florio and Michael David Smith are picking the Eagles over Washington, but each see it playing out differently.
MDS’s take: Washington coach Ron Rivera held his team together for most of a challenging season full of injuries and COVID concerns, but the Football Team appears to be just about done.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 30, Washington 17.
• USA TODAY Sports: Six of their seven experts are picking the Eagles.
• Bleacher Report: Eagles 28, Washington 17 (NOTE: Five of their six writers are taking the Birds to cover the 3.5-point spread.)
The Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Football Team are moving in separate directions, with the Eagles having won and covered in three consecutive games while the WFT has done the exact opposite. And while oddsmakers surely account for those trajectories to an extent, the majority of the gang is leaning Philly's way for its matchup Sunday in D.C.
It hurts to give up that hook if you're on the Eagles, especially with Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard hurting for Philly, so consider buying back to an even field goal if possible. Regardless, Washington doesn't look like a great play. We're talking about a top-12 team and a bottom-eight team in terms of DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) at Football Outsiders.
The public's on the Eagles, which can be a red flag. In this case, we are siding with the public.
• Sheil Kapadia, The Athletic: Sheil picks games against the spread every week, and this week he thinks the Eagles win but fail to cover.
The key for the Eagles in these final two games is Jalen Hurts’ health. He’s back from an ankle injury but ran just two times in their Week 16 win against the New York Giants. The Eagles’ offense just isn’t the same when Hurts can’t be a big factor in the run game.
These two teams faced off a couple weeks ago, but it was Garrett Gilbert starting for Washington. In this game, they’ll roll with Taylor Heinicke, although Ron Rivera said Kyle Allen could also get a look. Washington is coming off of an embarrassing 56-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
It’s possible that the wheels come off completely for Washington down the stretch. But they were competitive against the Eagles with Gilbert a couple weeks ago. This feels like an uncomfortable win for the Eagles.
The pick: Washington (+3.5)
• Bill Bender, Sporting News: Eagles 28, Washington 22
Washington is coming off its worst loss of the season, and the Eagles won the last meeting between the teams 27-17 on Dec. 21. Washington could rise up in a spoiler role at home, but that's tough to envision after watching the SNF disaster. Philadelphia has rolled up 184.3 rushing yards per game in its last three victories.
• Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Eagles 23, Washington 20
The Eagles may have another shakeup in the backfield without Miles Sanders but they will stick to a run-heavy game plan that just worked against Washington less than two weeks ago. But last week, they also gained more confidence in Jalen Hurts throwing downfield when he and his running mates couldn't produce at will against the Giants. The Eagles open it up again to win, while Washington digs deep to show some needed fight for Ron Rivera.
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