Holding their playoff destiny in their own hands, the (8-6) Washington Redskins go to Lincoln Financial Field to take on their division rivals and the team that could very well decide who wins the NFC East, the (4-10) Philadelphia Eagles (1pm ET, Sunday).
For the Redskins, the scenario is simple. If they win their remaining two games the NFC East crown is theirs. This situation is exactly what plays out for the Dallas Cowboys. Since the final game of the season is between these two teams, based on what Dallas and Washington do on Sunday, could set up a deciding game for the division title. The New York Giants are not out of it either. The defending Super Bowl champs just need some help from a few other teams, namely the Eagles this week.
Despite falling out of playoff contention early in the season, the Eagles are in a spot of huge importance. With their two final games coming against Washington and New York, Philadelphia could very well determine who wins the division that the Eagles themselves claimed just a few years prior.
The Philadelphia Secondary is Powerless to Stop (WAS) QB Robert Griffin III
No rookie in NFL history has done it quite like RG III this year. He has been said to have the arm strength and accuracy of Ben Roethlisberger, who has won two Super Bowl championships with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the speed and agility of Cam Newton, who ran for over 700 yards and 14 touchdowns his rookie season. With those attributes, Griffin represents a new breed of quarterback but most importantly, is a player that is nearly impossible to keep off of the scoreboard.
The Eagles got just a taste of what they will see in Griffin when the team faced Newton’s Carolina Panthers earlier this season. Long story short, Philadelphia was man handled by the 23-year-old Newton, who had his best game of the season, throwing for 306 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 52 yards and another two scores on the ground. The bad news for Eagles fans is that Griffin can do all of that and more.
On the season, the Washington rookie has been one of the most complete players in the league. Talent-wise, he has performed just as well as some of the best veterans and is even ranked sixth in completion percentage with 66.4% and second in QB rating with a very impressive mark of 104.2. Both of these numbers are better than Drew Brees, Tom Brady and even Roethlisberger himself among many others.
Stopping Griffin is more than just keeping his wide receivers covered however. Like the best runners in the game, when his receivers are covered and there is a hole to be found, Griffin is going to find it. As one of the grittiest runners, quarterbacks and running backs included, Griffin has already passed Newton’s rookie yardage totals and has done so in less games played and less rushing attempts.
Maybe the most impressive thing about the rookie however, is that he has thrown just four interceptions and 18 touchdowns on the season. He has no game in which he has thrown more than one pick, something that Brady, Brees and last year’s MVP Aaron Rodgers can’t even say.
There is no doubt Griffin is a spectacular player and the Eagles actually already know this. When the teams met in November, Griffin absolutely destroyed the Eagles much the way Newton did. He torched the secondary for four touchdowns on 200 passing yards and notched another 84 yards on the ground. In the process, Griffin recorded a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
Don’t Forget About the Other Washington Running Rookie
Of course all of the headlines and all of the press go to Griffin, but Philly also has yet another quick and talented rookie to stop when it comes to rushing the ball. The Eagles boast Lesean McCoy who last season made a name for himself in the league and rookie Bryce Brown who has shown great promise. The Redskins of course have Griffin, who has done it all. That said, the best running back on the field on Sunday is likely to be neither of these three but rather, Alfred Morris.
Drafted low in the sixth round out of a no name college, Morris has been one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this season. He has revitalized the Washington running game which had previously been dormant for quite some time. With RG III, the two have led Washington to the league’s best rushing offense, a per game average of just under 165 yards.
In a league filled with great runners, Morris has been one of the best. He ranks third for all running backs with 1,322 total yards and 94.4 rushing yards per game, while also sitting in seventh place with his nine touchdowns.
And here-in lies more bad news for the Eagles.
While the Philadelphia pass rush has been much improved over the last few games, the team is still just 20th against the run. Considering that they have only had to face one really good running back, Baltimore’s Ray Rice, this rank is even worse than it looks. Having to deal with Morris and RG III, a tandem that burned them for 160 yards in their last meeting, might be too much for the Eagles’ secondary.
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles Betting Picks
Philadelphia has been bad all around this year. Hindered by injuries at almost every position, the team is now starting an unproven rookie at the most important position on the field and has a defense that has underwhelmed and underperformed for much of the season.
Faced against the Redskins, it is no surprise that the Eagles are 7-point home underdogs. Considering how the team has performed against the spread this year, the nearly one touchdown deficit is even less encouraging. That said I’m taking the Eagles to actually come out on top with the +7pts advantage. Washington may get the win, but with a new role of spoiler thrust on them, Philly will play one of its best games this season.
- Americans: Bet on the Eagles +7pts @ -120 with BetOnline. (Bovada had no odds at the time of this preview).
- Non-Americans: You can get +6.5pts @ 10/11 with Bet365, Betfred, BetVictor.