Week 17 Matchup: Eagles vs Washington
Well, this isn’t exactly the season we as fans wanted to witness, but if I’m being honest, I’m glad it’ll be over. The top storyline coming from this team is the insane amount of injuries the Eagles have had to deal with all year. At least, they’ll have time to heal properly and come back next year or fire the entire medical staff this offseason... I’m hoping for the latter. After this game finishes, this event will be the ending of an ugly season and we can all forget it ever happened. There are two possibilities: they lose and get a decent pick in the draft, or ruin those chances and win a pointless game against a team who actually has a chance of winning the NFC (L)East. I’m hoping for an Eagles loss just for that draft pick and the fact that the Dallas Cowboys will not become division champs. The Eagles are facing the team that must not be named, aka the Washington Football Team. Here is the preview for their final game of the season.
Alex Smith has undeniably been the best thing Washington has had in quite some time. The almost-certain Comeback Player of the Year was able to get a couple of wins under his belt after 2019 draft pick Dwayne Haskins put up a disappointing season, eventually getting released from the team after some off-field shenanigans. Smith has won four of his five starts this season. He has a 66.1 completion percentage in those five starts, but only three touchdowns and three interceptions. Smith had been dealing with a calf injury, but it looks he’ll be suiting up for this crucial game for Washington.
Antonio Gibson played in Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers after missing the previous two games with a turf toe injury. He produced 61 yards on 10 carries against the Panthers. He leads Washington in rushing with 720 yards and 11 touchdowns and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry this season. He’s also a dangerous screen weapon in the passing game. Gibson has a pair of 100-yard rushing performances this year, both against the Cowboys’ league-worst run defense. With Terry McLaurin likely sidelined, Smith will rely heavily on Gibson and the team’s other running back, J.D. McKissic, in the passing game as well as tight end Logan Thomas. Thomas has 69 receptions and five touchdowns, including one against the Eagles in Week 1.
Chase Young continues to terrorize opposing defenses while on his way to earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. His 6.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and nine quarterback hits are a recipe for trouble against a dysfunctional Eagles o-line. The WFT defense has been among the best and has remained intact all year despite the injuries their team has also faced this year.
For the first time in four years, the Eagles will not be making the playoffs. It’s a weird time, but I’m hopeful that they’ll bounce back next season and be much better than they currently are. Their run game has received a massive boost since Jalen Hurts has taken over as a starting quarterback. In the first 12 games, they were averaging 116.2 rushing yards per game and 5.0 YPC. In Hurts’ three starts, they’ve been averaging 171.3 rushing yards per game and 5.5 YPC. Miles Sanders is the only player in the league with three runs of 70-plus yards. But since Week 4, he’s had only three games with more than 80 rushing yards. Hurts is averaging 6.2 yards per carry the last three games, with 11 runs of 10 yards or more. The rookie quarterback has an impressive 123.5 passer rating in the first half in his three starts, including five touchdown passes and no interceptions. But he hasn’t done nearly as well in the second half. Hurts has a 48.3 completion percentage and a 6.1 yards-per-attempt average in the final two-quarters of his three starts.
With the Eagles eliminated from the playoffs, we’ll more than likely see the starters benched and we’ll see the younger players perform and try to impress enough to get a starting job next season. Miles Sanders is out with a knee injury, so that means we’ll see more of Boston Scott and Jordan Howard in this game. Scott has averaged 7.4 YPC on only 17 attempts and Howard has only played in two games since being signed to the practice squad back in November. The Eagles receivers have been less than impressive this season but have become more motivated since Hurts started playing. They combined for 441 receiving yards and four touchdowns in the last two games and averaged 11.0 yards per target.
The Eagles are 24th in run defense (127.3) but 11th in opponent rush average (4.2). They struggled against the Cowboys last week after six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox suffered a stinger early in the game.
This game is pretty meaningless but at least we won't have to endure any more ugly games...at least until next year. Kickoff has been flexed to an 8:20 start (for some torturous reason).