Statistics and trends are good discussion points – it’s kind of my job after all – but there’s really only one number that matters to the Eagles on Sunday: the end result. That’s because a win over Washington is the first of three dominoes to fall in Week 17 for the Birds to win an NFC wild card spot with one game left.
So while it would be nice for the Eagles to continue their urgent dominance (on both sides of the ball) or to see Dallas Goedert or DeVonta Smith go out or the defense get another goal, it’s all noise that should distract us from it. only thing Eagles fans should worry about. Beating Washington – and going one step closer to reaching the playoffs in Nick Sirianni’s first year – would also make the Birds prove that many people were wrong (including myself) by also guaranteeing themselves a record of over 0.500.
Now that we’ve made it clear that statistics are not important in this one, and a win is all that matters, let’s take a look at some numbers you should see anyway in the form of our weekly over / unders, as these are mostly numbers we think will play a role in the end result. You can also check out our predictions – and predictions roundup – for Eagles vs. Washington, as well as the latest injury report and some matchups to watch for Sunday’s game at FedEx Field.
[A quick reminder for those new to our over/unders: Unless explicitly stated otherwise, these are my own numbers based on how I think the players/teams will perform on Sunday — and the advice that follows is where I would put my money if I had to.]
Total points: 44.5
It’s the current sum offered on several sports books listed on Sidelines.io, and it feels right considering that my prediction for the week has played ends at 46 points, just a little on the upside. It also not only tracks what these teams have on average in terms of points for and points against, but it is half a point higher than the total number a week and a half ago when they met at Linc for some football on Tuesday night. However, there were some mitigating circumstances in it, except that it was played on a Tuesday.
Washington started Garrett Gilbert, and this time it will be back to Taylor Heinicke, who himself is a backup, but who is clearly a better option than a guy you reported from another team’s training team just a few days before the game. And Washington has actually played pretty well under Heinicke, certainly much better than most thought back when Ryan Fitzpatrick went down for the season. On top of that, Washington will get some other players back who were out last time (although they will probably also be missing Antonio Gibson), not to mention that they will probably have a bit of a chip on their shoulder after being embarrassed about Dallas last week. Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts’ injured ankle should be in better shape, which in turn makes him a real threat to run, something that had been missed since he returned.
Jalen Hurts rushing yards: 43.5
Speaking of Hurts ‘rushing, let’s take a look at it, as it’s clearly the key to the Eagles’ success on offense. And with Miles Sanders already ruled out and Jordan Howard still not 100% after being stabbed in the team’s win over the Giants, Hurts’ legs will be even more important this week against a Washington team that has been good against over this week. season, despite the Eagles’ Week 15 beatdown.
That number is what’s being offered at FanDuel, and it’s actually about 10 yards below Hurts’ season average. But that can be expected after the second-year QB combined for just 45 yards on the ground during his last two games, including just seven yards last week against New York. I expect to see a healthier Hurts this week and more need for him to be able to drive the ball himself. If the Eagles hope to win – and as we said, that’s all really means something on Sunday – hitting over here would go a long way towards making it a reality.
Taylor Heinicke passes yards: 204.5
The Eagles have quietly become a top-10 pass defense in terms of yards per game (215 YPG; 9th). And of course, some of that has to do with the fact that they’ve played some really awful quarterbacks over the last two months of the season. But they also blow many of those teams out – and if we came to the Eagles to fill in statistics with garbage times early in the season where they were constantly on the losing end, then we also have to give them the same credit for not allowing other teams to do the same.
When blowing opponents out, passing yards tend to skew high when you lose your secondary back and play a little bit of prevention. And even bad NFL QBs can benefit from it. But it has not really happened against the Eagles, and some of it is due to the fact that the defense has received a lot of help from the offensive. Long, time-consuming drives driven by their urgent attacks have kept conflicting attacks off the field and it has certainly helped the defense. I mean, it’s hard to give up yards and points when you’re not on the field.
Washington does not have a wealth of weapons other than Terry McLaurin, so the Eagles should be able to beat him with Darius Slay, making life even harder for Heinicke and Co. and keeps him below the 204.5 yards offered by FanDuel.
Dallas Goedert-yards: Terry McLaurin-yards
Neither of these two passing catchers is top notch in terms of projected yards on FanDuel – which actually belongs to DeVonta Smith (54.5) – but both of these players were their team’s respective leading receivers in the first meeting, and both play in total 50.5 yards on the way into the rematch.
During the first meeting, however, it was no surprise that Goedert outscored McLaurin 135-51 with Gilbert under center for Washington, Slay locked on McLaurin, and WFT’s linebackers were decimated by COVID. Will it happen again? We would not be surprised to see another big day for Goedert, who has shown a really good relationship with Hurts since Zach Ertz was traded. Meanwhile, McLaurin has an average of only 3.3 catches for 46.6 yards per carry. fight since Washington’s farewell – numbers that rise slightly if you take his injury-shortened start against Dallas (54.3 YPG at 3.8 RPG). If we were just going with the 50.5s, we would probably take both to turn into this. But it’s not the game here. Instead, we compare the two, and whether we think Goedert’s total will be above or below McLaurins.
Eagles takeaways: 0.5
The Eagles defense has at least one takeaway in six of their eight wins this season. The only two where they did not record one were back in Week 1 against Atlanta a week and a half ago when they beat Washington. It was a surprise for many when Garrett Gilbert was the opponent’s quarterback – and threw the ball more than 30 times – but in the end it did not matter for the outcome of the match.
This time, facing a tougher quarterback and playing away, the Eagles would do well to get at least one takeaway. They seem to have an ability to find the end zone when they force turnover with three defensive touchdowns since week 8 – and it would of course be even better against Washington – but just getting a timely turnover could be the difference in this. Heinicke has had six turnovers in his last four games (5 INT, 1 FL), and if the Eagles can get out to a lead and force him to throw, we think he will manage the five games in a row.
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