Washington FT vs. Philadelphia Eagles Total Pick

January 3, 8:20 PM EST

Betting Odds

Point Spread: 
WAS -3.5 / PHI +3.5

The Washington Football Team takes on the Philadelphia Eagles in a big NFC East battle on Sunday Night Football. This game will be a big one for every NFC East team besides the Eagles, who are eliminated from the postseason. The winner of the Cowboys-Giants game will go to the playoffs if the Eagles win, but Washington can simply win their way into the playoffs with a win here, which would earn them the NFC East title Champions. For a while, it was looking like Washington was a cinch to win the division, but two straight losses, including a 20-13 loss to Carolina last week, has put them in a must-win spot. The Eagles, meanwhile, have also dropped two in a row, losing on Sunday to the Cowboys, 37-17.

Bad Signs for Washington

They had become a nice little story, surging with come-backing quarterback Alex Smith. Then, Smith got injured, the offense screeched to a halt, and the recipe for success soured. The Dwayne Haskins saga didn't seem to help. There aren't many teams fighting for a division-win who release the first-round QB who started just the previous week. It's an unconventional route, to say the least. And with Smith still iffy, the thoughts of starting Taylor Heinicke don't inspire a lot of confidence.

I suppose one looking for some silver lining doesn't have to look hard to find it. For all the uncertainty with their offense, it's not really the side of the ball that allowed them to go on a surge to get in this spot. They basically rode their defense to this position, which isn't that great a position to be in, to begin with, being that they're just 6-9. But in the NFC East, it's good enough for them to be in control of their own destiny. Quarterback issues and anemic offense aside, Washington can still impose a good defense, and the fact that they're playing the 4-10-1 Eagles offers additional hope.

Can Philly Play the Spoiler Role?

We saw a small surge with Jalen Hurts under center. But in the end, this is a team that has won just once in their last seven games. With a defense that could do damage, a spiraling offense could sometimes keep the Eagles in games. But with waning resistance and personnel issues on the defensive side of the ball, even that lone asset is fading in its effectiveness. They're still out there trying. A lot of guys whose positions aren't totally cemented are trying to make a good impression. But maybe it's fair to wonder how vital of an effort you will see from a week 17 Eagles squad that has been through a tough season where not a lot went right.

But at home and against a division rival, I wouldn't expect the Eagles to roll over. Playing a clearly-substandard Washington offense, this is a spot where this Philly defense could conceivably show some of its teeth. Nothing against Heinicke, but he's a career journeyman who has never seen success at this level. And even if Smith should make his way into the fold, it's not like he was lighting the world on fire. Not many quarterbacks could with this offense. And that leaves a gap even for a waning Philly defense to impose its will to some extent.

The Fallacy of Urgency

It's easy to defer to the more-urgent team. It's easy for us to cast each team here in stark contrast—a Washington team playing to get into the playoffs against an Eagles team that will probably be relieved to get to the finish line. But Washington is 6-9, and the reason it's coming down to the last week doesn't have anything to do with them being good or bankable in high-urgency spots. If they were, they would have beaten a slip-sliding Carolina team last week with so much on the line. Yet, people will use the component of urgency to bolster their winning case. It's a little odd. Then on top of that, you have a point spread that reflects the urgency. Therefore, how much value lies in the obvious observation that Washington needs this more? At the same time, there isn't much about the recent form of the Eagles that suggests they're ready to thrive in the role of spoiler.

Washington Football Team vs. Philadelphia Eagles O/U Pick

It's not easy to make a spreads pick, even with all things considered. With Terry McLaurin likely out and Antonio Gibson iffy, the Washington offense is a reasonable cause of concern. But maybe they're lucky to be playing another team from what has been a highly-dysfunctional NFC East. Philly's offense will have more viable weaponry available for this game, but they're still an offense that doesn't fire often. And against this Washington defense, I suspect it will be a grind for Philly. I see Washington crossing the finish line a nose ahead for the big win in a low scoring game.

Free Pick: 
Take the UNDER 43.5