Philadelphia Eagles 2020-2021 Week 17 Preview

Can the Eagles keep the Washington Football Team out of the playoffs?

The Philadelphia Eagles welcome the Washington Football Team to town this week as the Birds will play in their final game this season. 

While the Eagles are eliminated from playoff contention, the Football Team can clinch a playoff berth with a win or the combination of a tie and a loss/ tie by the Dallas Cowboys.

The Eagles have been very vocal about their desire to stop Washington from celebrating at Lincoln Financial Field. Meanwhile, the Football Team will be looking to defeat the Eagles for the second time this season, as Washington won 27-17 in week 1.

Washington has not swept Philadelphia since 2016, and Washington will be looking to rewrite history and claim a 2-0 record this season against one of its biggest divisional foes.

Let’s examine both teams ahead of this crucial NFC East matchup.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1):

The Eagles’ offense has improved since switching to quarterback Jalen Hurts, but it hasn’t been enough to rectify a bad season for the Birds. 

Since Hurts took over following the Eagles’ loss to the Packers, the Eagles’ offense has averaged 22.3 points per game. The Eagles averaged about 21.1 points per game before switching to Hurts, so the quarterback change has netted the Eagles only about 1.2 more points per game.

Sadly, this improvement isn’t enough to make the Eagles a threat offensively. The Eagles’ average of 22.3 points per game with Hurts ranks 25th among all teams in the NFL this season. 

One of the main reasons for the Eagles’ offensive woes stems from their lack of a solid run game.

Can the Eagles find a way to get Sanders involved in the offense? (Wikimedia Commons)

Miles Sanders ranks No. 6 in the NFL in yards per carry (YPC) with an average of 5.3. However, Sanders has the 19thmost carries in the NFL. 

Sanders has just two games with over 100 rushing yards, and he even has six games this season where he didn’t crack 75 yards rushing.

Additionally, the Eagles have struggled because their receiving game is not formidable at all.

Dallas Goedert and Travis Fulgham lead the Eagles receiving as the tight end and wide receiver respectively have 524 receiving yards each. 

524 receiving yards ranks 81st in the NFL. Needless to say, the Eagles need someone to step up big if the Eagles hope to keep Washington out of the playoffs. 

Defensively, one way the Eagles could put a lot of pressure on the Football Team is by generating sacks. 

The Eagles are No. 4 in the NFL in sacks (46). The Eagles need to generate pressure up front and force Washington to make mistakes. 

If the Eagles allow Alex Smith (the projected starter) to have plenty of time in the pocket, the Eagles doom themselves.

The Eagles rank No. 21 in average passing yards allowed per game (243.5) and allow an average quarterback rating (QBR) of 104.2, which is fourth last in the NFL.

The Eagles’ offense and defense have both struggled this season, and both units will need to have solid games if the Birds wish to keep the Football Team out of the playoffs. 

Washington Football Team (6-9):

Just like the Eagles, the Washington Football Team has changed quarterbacks a few times this season. 

Dwayne Haskins, Alex Smith, Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke have all seen time at the quarterback position this year. 

With Haskins no longer on the roster and Allen out for the season with a dislocated ankle, Smith and Heinicke will have to carry Washington’s quarterback room.

Smith is banged up and injured, so that will be something to keep an eye on as the week progresses. Smith is by far the more seasoned and experienced quarterback of the two remaining players.

Antonio Gibson has burst onto the scene in Washington giving the Football Team life at the running back position. 

Gibson, a third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, has 720 rushing yards this year. He needs just 39 yards in Sunday’s contest to break 1,000 all-purpose yards on the season.

Who will step up for Washington if McLaurin is unable to play? (Wikimedia Commons)

Gibson will be especially important if star wide receiver Terry McLaurin is unable to go.

McLaurin is dealing with an ankle injury that kept him out of last week’s contest against the Carolina Panthers. He is Washington’s top receiver with 1,078 receiving yards this year. 

Defensively, the Football Team is one of the stingiest teams when it comes to allowing yards through the air.

Washington allows an average of just 198 passing yards per game, which is the third best in the NFL. 

With the Eagles’ receivers struggling to have solid seasons, Washington will look to turn up the pressure and force the Eagles to become one dimensional.

While the Football Team isn’t as good at stopping the run as they are the pass, they still are better than most.

Washington ranks No. 12 in the NFL in average rushing yards allowed per game with 112.5.

This is 6.3 yards better than the NFL average of 118.8.

Washington has given up the fifth fewest points this season (315) and will be looking to secure a playoff berth by limiting an already struggling Eagles offense.

Prediction:

Football Team wins 27-17, Football Team (-1.5), over 42.5

Even though Washington is battling a lot of injuries, I like them to win this game and pretty handedly, too. 

The Football Team has the better defense, and Washington has the ability to really make the Eagles only rush-oriented. I think Washington will make it a priority to eliminate any chance for Hurts to win the game by throwing well. 

This game could be close if either McLaurin or Smith misses the matchup, but I still think Washington has enough to get the job done.

Washington has already defeated the Eagles when the Birds were healthier and had more optimism, so it should be easier to beat up on the Eagles now after they have struggled all season long.

I like the Football Team to win and cover the spread. An over/under of 42.5 seems way too low for me, so I will take the over.

Also, just as a fun bonus, my final score is actually the same final score as the first matchup between these teams. I didn’t even notice until after I wrote it!

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