Eagles vs. Washington Odds & Picks: How To Bet This NFC East Showdown On Sunday Night Football
Getty Images. Pictured: Chase Young, Jalen Hurts
Eagles vs. Washington Odds
The Week 17 goal is simple for the Football Team: Defeat the Eagles, win the NFC East and secure a playoff berth for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
But if Philly wins, the winner of Cowboys-Giants captures the division title.
So how can we find value on this critical Sunday Night Football showdown? Let’s find out.
Washington Football Team
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Washington is planning to start Alex Smith (questionable, calf) at quarterback for this must-win spot. After releasing anti-franchise quarterback Dwayne Haskins, Washington only has 2015 undrafted free-agent journeyman Taylor Heinicke and rookie UDFA Steven Montez behind Smith, so Smith being able to start — and make it through the entire game — is paramount.
Complicating matters is the health of Washington’s top two offensive weapons, running back Antonio Gibson ( toe) and wide receiver Terry McLaurin (ankle), neither of whom practiced this week and are listed as questionable.
Gibson returned from a two-week absence to gut out his injury last week, but played only 21-of-70 (30%) offensive snaps, gaining 69 yards from scrimmage on 13 touches. McLaurin, who missed last week, is still dealing with a high-ankle sprain and almost certainly would have been ruled out if not for the must-win nature of this game.
The Eagles’ secondary will be without safeties Rodney McCloud (IR, ACL) and Jalen Mills (reserve/COVID-19) as well as cornerbacks Avonte Maddox (IR, knee), Cre’Von LeBlanc (IR, ankle) and Craig James (IR, shoulder), but McLaurin could still struggle to separate against Darius Slay.
Slay shadowed McLaurin on 83.3% of his routes in Week 1, holding him to three catches and 31 yards on five targets in his coverage in a game that McLaurin finished with 61 yards, his fourth-fewest of the season.
The Eagles are 30th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA against WR2s and 30th against tight ends, so Washington may be forced to rely on emerging third-year wideout Cam Sims and breakout tight end Logan Thomas as his top downfield targets.
Smith’s life in the pocket will be made easier by the absence of former first-team All Pro and six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who will miss this game with a neck injury.
Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett (calf) and linebacker Duke Riley (IR, biceps) also won’t play, so the Football Team should be able to have more success on the ground than it had in the first matchup against Philly, in which Washington gained just 80 yards on 36 carries (2.2 yards per carry).
The Eagles have gained an average of 437.3 total yards in three games with rookie Jalen Hurts starting at quarterback — more than 100 yards more per game than they averaged in 12 games with Carson Wentz (318.8).
As has been the case all season, the Eagles won’t be fully healthy at the skill positions — running back Miles Sanders (knee), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (ankle) and tight end Dallas Goedert (calf) have been ruled out — but they still have a decent collection of talent with a healthy Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffrey alongside explosive players like Jalen Reagor and Boston Scott.
Washington’s defense ranks second in overall DVOA and ninth in pressure rate (24.3% per Pro Football Reference), but Hurts’ scrambling ability — he has run for 238 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries (6.3 yards per carry) in three starts — should allow them to remain competitive on that side of the ball.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago when breaking down the NFC East, this Washington team has taken on the resilient personality of head coach Ron Rivera, who is battling cancer, as well as Smith, who battled back from a life-threatening leg injury.
This is not a team I would bet against to come out on top of the NFC East, and all Washington needs is a win to accomplish that.
Interestingly enough, however, is that the team’s penchant for off-the-field comeback stories has also carried over onto the field. With an average scoring margin of +7.1, Washington has been the NFL’s best second-half team this season, but they’ve needed it — their -7.1 first-half margin is third-worst.
According to our Action Labs data, Washington is just 3-12 against the spread (ATS) in the first half this season, failing to cover by an average of 5.1 points per game.
With its starting quarterback, top running back and top wide receiver banged up, I expect Washington to come out slow once again, rationing the snaps of Gibson and McLaurin (if active) while trying to remain within striking distance.
I would expect Washington’s best performance to come in the second half, where it is 13-2 ATS this season.
Given these trends, I would look to back the Eagles in the first half (down to a pick’em), then Washington on the second-half line and/or live (pick’em or better).
Picks: Eagles 1H (to a pick’em ); Washington 2H; Washington live (pick’em or better)