Eagles vs. Washington NFL Week 17 Picks and Predictions

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DeVonta Smith #6 of the Philadelphia Eagles catches a 18-yard touchdown pass from Jalen Hurts #1 against the Atlanta Falcons. Todd Kirkland/Getty Images/AFP

The top sportsbooks have released their odds for Sunday’s game between Philadelphia and Washington.

The Eagles enter Sunday’s contest in red-hot form, having won three games by double digits. They leveled the Jets, overcame a sleepy start to beat Washington by 10, and then blew out the Giants. Conversely, Washington is reeling with three straight losses. It will hope to bounce back by winning as the underdog.

For reasons that I will explain, you should bet the spread for this game, so let’s break down the NFL odds for this matchup!

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Football Team

Sunday, January 02, 2022 – 01:00 PM EST at FedEx Field

Washington's Regression in Pass Coverage

In order to bet on the underdog, one should have a strong hope of the underdog stopping its opponent a sufficient number of times in order to stay within the number. But Washington's defense is a far cry from what it was last year as it ranks 30th in allowing 27.1 points per game after ranking fifth in scoring defense last year.

Washington's most recent 56-14 debacle in Dallas epitomizes Washington's defensive regression this year. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had been suffering a multi-game slump but amassed 330 yards and four touchdowns in a close to flawless performance against Washington.

Faithful Washington backers may try to turn this embarrassment into a positive. They will say that Washington was embarrassed and will use this embarrassment as motivation in order to magically become a good defense against the Eagles. However, this embarrassment is consistent with what Washington has been doing defensively since the start of the season.

Washington ranks towards the bottom in various pass coverage categories like touchdown percentage, interception percentage, adjusted net yards per attempt, DVOA, PFF. These low ratings indicate that Dak is far from the only quarterback to thrive against Washington's pass coverage.

Eagle Passing

Eagle quarterback Jalen Hurts is another such quarterback. On December 21, despite a slow start suffered by the entire Eagle team coming out of its bye week, he achieved against Washington his second-best pass percentage and his third-highest passing total of the season.

The absent-minded first quarter notwithstanding, Philadelphia, partly due to Hurts' efforts, amassed 27 points en route to its 10-point victory. Hurts has developed great chemistry with tight end Dallas Goedert, the big but agile pass-catcher whose two 100-yard receiving games came in Philadelphia's last three contests, and with speedy and nimble rookie DeVonta Smith.

This chemistry is most apparent when Hurts is on the move -- as the dual-threat comfortably operates -- and can find these pass-catchers for significant gains.

Washington Secondary and Pass Rush

Philly's deep crew of pass-catchers will exploit Washington's secondary whose regression is not only collective but also individual. Washington's Kendall Fuller, for example, has been a well-respected name among cornerbacks.

Last year, Fuller ranked 27th in yards allowed and 23rd in passer rating allowed. This year, he ranks 170th in the former category and 79th in the latter. With guys like Fuller, Washington's pass coverage is undermined by individual errors and blown assignments.

To be fair, Washington's secondary has also been strongly exposed by a lack of pass rush, precisely where they're missing the injured Chase Young who amassed 7.5 sacks as a rookie last year. Last season, Washington ranked fourth in team sack percentage, but it ranks 19th in the same category this season. Keep these stats in mind for your sports betting.

A weaker pass rush is allowing quarterbacks more opportunity to operate comfortably behind the pocket or on the move.

Running Style

Of course, Philadelphia is more known for its running, so it's uniquely superb for the Eagles that they can flourish through the air. While Miles Sanders is ruled 'out' for this game, Philadelphia is still well-stocked.

Hurts is an elusive runner, former 1,000-yard rusher Jordan Howard can handle a solid load, Boston Scott has been a productive backup, and Kenneth Gainwell provides a spark especially as a pass-catcher. Gainwell is in a particularly favorable spot because Washington repeatedly allows running backs to profit as pass-catchers, with Josh Jacobs and his nine receptions for Las Vegas being a recent example.

Washington has been particularly weak against the run, lately, allowing the fourth-highest three-game average of rushing yards in the past three games.

Washington Offense vs. Eagle Defense

Philadelphia's defensive improvement has been immense since the first seven games of the season. Know for your best bets that the Eagles are now consistently holding teams to fewer than 20 points. Their strength is apparent against the run as they now own the ninth best-run defense as measured by their ability to limit opposing rush yards.

Run defense is crucial against a Washington squad that has the 10th-highest rush play frequency. With success against the likes of Charger Austin Ekeler, who suffered one of his lowest YPC averages against the Eagles, Philadelphia promises to limit Washington's Antonio Gibson-led rush attack.

Gibson has anyhow been playing weakly as he struggles through a pesky toe injury. He's failed to reach 40 rushing yards in any of his past three games. As for its pass "attack," Washington is unstable at quarterback. Taylor Heinicke's repeated struggle to reach 200 yards makes him a lackluster-at-best option. He's been bad enough that Coach Rivera has asserted that Kyle Allen will also receive playing time.

The Verdict

Washington is unraveling. With playoff chances hardly looking realistic and with the team tired of struggling, Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen got into a miniature fistfight on the sidelines against Dallas.

If they are fighting in front of the camera, one can only surmise what they do behind the scenes. Their rage will continue as they lack the weaponry or the quality to keep pace with an Eagle team whose current hot streak positions it in playoff contention. For the above reasons, invest in Philadelphia with your NFL Picks.

NFL Pick: Eagles -3.5 at -108 at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Eagles -3.5 (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.