Washington vs. Eagles Picks & Predictions: How To Bet Sunday Night Football
Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pictured: Terry McLaurin (left) and Alex Smith
NFL Picks & Predictions
Beat the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Washington Football Team is headed to the playoffs. Lose, and the New York Giants are crowned NFC East champions with a ticket to the postseason.
No matter which team emerges from the NFL’s worst division, it will be locked into the 4-seed of the NFC.
With the stakes in mind, our staff details how they’re betting the final regular-season game of the 2020 season.
Eagles 1H & WFT 2H
Chris Raybon: 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 (battling cancer) and Alex Smith (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 the Football Team needs is a win here to accomplish that.
Interestingly enough, however, is that the Washington’s penchant for off-the-field comeback stories has also carried over on the field. With an average scoring margin of +7.1, Washington has been the best second-half team in the NFL 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 Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin (if active as expected) 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.
Eagles +11.5 & Under 50 Teaser
Brandon Anderson: Of course, in this wonky pandemic NFL season, we finish with a truly terrible game between under-.500 teams that probably doesn’t even matter in the grand scheme of things. Like 2020, the NFL regular season will go out with a whimper.
Oh, wait — the winner gets a division championship and trip to the playoffs? OK then…
A Washington win gets the Football Team means an NFC East title, which would be a lovely story for guys like head coach Ron Rivera, who has cycled through any number of quarterbacks, including Week 17 starter Smith, this season.
The face of that culture change has become Smith, a man who no one reasonably expected to play any snaps this season, let alone play in the season finale with a chance to head to the playoffs.
Smith has been more inspirational than good, though — he’s struggled to stay on the field and could give way to unknown Taylor Heinicke if things get ugly again. Smith has been a statue and unable to hit big plays or spark an anemic passing game.
He will get help from the return of budding star McLaurin, but the two have not had great chemistry at times this season.
The return of Smith and McLaurin should help, but this Washington offense hasn’t done much this season. The Football Team ranks 30th in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA, so it’s a miracle it is even alive in the playoff hunt.
Philadelphia has been miserable in pass defense, but Washington probably isn’t a team that will make the Eagles pay for that unless Smith has the throwback game of his life. But Jalen Hurts probably won’t be able to pass the ball much on Washington either, since it has the No. 2 defensive DVOA in the league and an elite pass defense.
With that, I don’t see either team scoring much.
I also think the Eagles are not much worse than Washington and that both Hurts and head coach Doug Pederson are playing for their jobs. This line has ballooned badly in Washington’s favor with the positive injuries news.
That gives us a few options here.
If you want to play it safe, you can tease the Eagles to +11.5 and play it with under 50 for what looks like a very solid bet. But now that the line has moved toward Washington so much, you can also grab a +215 moneyline on Philadelphia, one that implies just a 32% chance of an Eagles win.
Is Washington really two times as likely as Philly to win this thing? As tepid as the Eagles’ offense has been all year, I don’t see it.
I’ll play the Eagles and under 50 teaser, and sprinkle a small wager on the Philly moneyline. I like Hurts more than anyone Washington has at quarterback, and he should do enough to outlast Smith’s inspirational story with a playoff game on the line, sending the Cowboys or Giants into the postseason.