Following an ugly season in the NFC East, the division will get the last game of the regular season on Sunday Night Football. The Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles will get to do the final honors in the 2020 season. If there weren’t any playoff implications here, then there’s no way this game gets flexed to the primetime game.
Washington needs a win over the Eagles in Philadelphia to take the NFC East. They would finish with a record of 7-9, which doesn’t deserve a playoff berth, but nor did the Seattle Seahawks when they beat the New Orleans Saints in 2011. One of the more memorable runs in the NFL happened in that game, as Marshawn Lynch caused an earthquake during his Beast Quake run.
The Seahawks won the NFC West with a record of 7-9. The same could happen on Sunday for Washington or the Cowboys. A playoff berth is on the line for Washington and the Cowboys, who go into Week 17 with a record of 6-9. The Cowboys need to win and hope their rivals, the Eagles, come through with a win at home on Sunday Night over Washington.
If the Eagles are going to win this game, it’s going to happen with mostly backups on the field. Nine starters have been ruled out for the Eagles going into Sunday evening. The defense is likely going to be reeling without the services of six starters, including two starting linebackers.
Washington fans love to see it, but that’s not an invitation to take the Eagles lightly. This isn’t the time to take an opponent lightly, especially one with nothing to lose. With some backups getting an opportunity on Sunday night, they might want to put something on tape for next season. And you know that Jalen Hurts isn’t going to go without swinging.
Hurts is a competitive guy that likely isn’t laying down in the final game of the season. That can only go so far sometimes, though. He faces a tough challenge against an underrated Washington defense in this one. Washington is fourth in the league with an average of 310.5 yards against per game.
Alex Smith appears ready to go after sitting since Week 13 against the 49ers. He suffered a calf injury in that game and hasn’t seen the field since. His improbable comeback can be capped off with a win to clinch the NFC East and a trip to the playoffs tonight. Player props are currently unavailable, so I’m going to focus on game props for this contest. Head below for our free Washington vs. Eagles props for January 3, 2021.
The NFC East will be clinched
Tomorrow (it's only a day away!) pic.twitter.com/xeV15Kda8D
— Sunday Night Football (@SNFonNBC) January 2, 2021
PHI Total Field Goals
Washington has a better defense than they’ve been getting credit for this season. All of the talk has been about how bad the NFC East, but lost in that is how strong Washington has been defensively. Their defense is what separates them from the rest of the division. Washington is fourth in the NFL with 310.5 yards allowed per game. They have been one of the best teams against the pass, with just 198 yards conceded through the air per game.
Jalen Hurts will likely string some drives together, but the offense probably bogs down in the red zone at times. I see this being a low-scoring game with at least a couple of field goal attempts for the Eagles. There is a chance of rain tonight in Philadelphia, but the wind is not supposed to be an issue. Jake Elliott should be able to convert two field goals. He has not been having a good season, though I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt in the season finale against a tough defense.
First Score of Game is Touchdown
Like I noted above, this is likely shaping up to be a defensive game between Washington and the Eagles on Sunday night. Neither offense has been explosive and both rank in the back half of the league in touchdowns per game. Washington is 26th in the NFL with 2.6 touchdowns per game, while the Eagles are tied for 17th with 2.7 touchdowns per game.
Washington hasn’t scored more than 23 points since beating the Cowboys by a score of 41-16. Dwayne Haskins getting sacked, and Alex Smith returning should help, but they like to win games with their defense. Finishing drives isn’t their speciality, instead playing the field position game. I’m going to take a chance with the first score of the game not being a touchdown. That’s too much juice to pay for yes on the touchdown.
Largest Lead (either team)
This prop ties into my previous comments about what I see as a low-scoring game. Washington will likely grind things out and use their defense to their advantage against the rookie Jalen Hurts. If Washington jumps out to an early lead, expect them to grind away on the ground to play keep away from the Eagles. Chew up the clock and get out of Philadelphia with a win and the NFC East title.
If they get behind, though, it’s hard to see the Eagles pulling away from Washington against their defense. Washington has a top-3 secondary in the league, and allowing a rookie to chew them up in this big spot looks unlikely. In the scenario that the Eagles get ahead in this game, the Washington defense should be able to keep this game close.
The way I see it, Washington and the Eagles aren’t going to pull away in this game. 6, 8, 5, and 7 is the difference in the final score in their previous four games. Before getting blown out against the Cowboys last week, the Eagles were in some close games as well. Four of their last five games were decided by a touchdown or less. Look for this matchup to stay within reach throughout four quarters.