The Eagles blew a golden opportunity last week. It was just one of many games the Eagles could’ve won to get them into the playoffs this season. We could look back on each game and lament how close some of the games were, but it’s hard to ignore that Bengals game.
In a sense, the Bengals game was a microcosm of the Eagles’ season. It was a winnable game, plenty of opportunities to take control, an equal number of unnecessary mistakes, and a division up for grabs. With six losses in their final seven games, the Eagles are officially out of the hunt for the division title.
The Philadelphia Eagles are 3.5 point underdogs against Washington in Week 17 per the DraftKings PA Online Sportsbook. Can they finish the season on a high note?
A missed opportunity
Week 16 was much the same story, as the Eagles missed a golden opportunity to take grasp of the division. It’s been the same narrative after every loss, but this was a little different. Following a 14-3 early lead in Dallas, the Eagles were outscored 34-3 to close out the game.
Jalen Hurts was good for a quarter. After that, he looked all out of sorts. The clear, biggest issue for the Eagles was their defense, again. You can blame the offense for not staying on the field longer, but the defense was just awful from the second quarter onward. Fletcher Cox’s injury was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Once he went down, the flood gates were open on defense.
Going into the final week, there are a few questions the Eagles need to find answers to. For one, we need to see if Jalen Hurts can rebound from his poor performance against the Cowboys. Like I said in last week’s article, Hurts is the better option under the current roster construction than Wentz.
Wentz holds onto the ball too long, struggles with confidence passing, and doesn’t use his legs the same way he did his rookie season. There’s little doubt Wentz has the better arm, but Hurts is better for the team right now, even though he had a rough second half in Dallas.
We need to see more accuracy from Hurts this week. He missed some wide-open guys last week and made some really bad throws in the second half. If the Eagles are to have any confidence in Hurts going into 2021, this would be a good game for him to show us something this week.
Looking ahead to the 2021 draft, the Eagles currently sit in the 6th spot. They could move as high as third or as low as 10th, depending on how the final week goes. This raises the question of whether the Eagles should deliberately lose or not. To me, this is a unique situation.
“Whoever’s on the football field, we play to win the game.” – Coach Pederson
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 1, 2021
On the one hand, the Eagles can lose and likely keep their 6th pick, with only a small chance of moving up. This would assure Washington wins the division. On the other hand, if the Eagles win, they’re likely to move up at least a spot or two in the draft, as well as give the Cowboys an opportunity to win the division.
Personally, I think Hurts should go out there, run the first team, and attempt to end the season on a high note. Like we said earlier, we need to see what he can do against a legitimate defense to determine if the Eagles should plan for Hurts or Wentz in 2021, or possibly consider drafting another quarterback in 2021. After all, Wentz has shown to be in his own head, and Hurts doesn’t have a super-high ceiling as a passer (if we are being honest with ourselves).
Week 17 Preview
The Eagles are out of the race, but they have a good chance here to get revenge on Washington and sink their playoff hopes with a victory Sunday.
Washington will likely be starting Alex Smith, but Taylor Heinecke has been taking first-string reps most of the week already. With Terry McLaurin out with a high ankle sprain, Washington’s offense will be extremely limited, as they were a week ago. Antonio Gibson is still a bit banged-up, but Washington’s defense should still be the top concern for Philadelphia as the game draws closer.
Washington’s defense is among the best in the league. They’re 5th in points allowed, 3rd in passing yards allowed, and 12th in rushing yards allowed per game. They have four first-round picks along the defensive front, and a solid secondary.
Offensively, Washington relies on a strong rushing attack, paired with smart decision-making from the quarterback. With Haskins under center, they didn’t have much of that. However, with Alex Smith at the helm, Washington’s odds would greatly improve.
For the Eagles, their defense is an absolute disaster at the moment. Barnett and Cox may play Sunday night and Pederson says he’s going to try to win the game. Personally, I think it’s important to finish out the season on a good note.
Week 17 Prediction
The Eagles’ defense shouldn’t be as exposed this week, with no real threat from the Washington air attack. I expect Washington will come out attacking on the ground, as the Eagles should be able to focus their efforts on stopping the ground game.
Offensively, the Eagles will face hurdles overcoming a tough Washington defensive front. The obvious and perhaps clear option here is for Hurts to escape the pocket as frequently as he can. A conventional attack will struggle against Washington, but the Eagles are a little more offensively versatile now since Hurts has taken over.
I expect the game to be low-scoring, with Washington taking control of things for most of the game. I think the Eagles will get some chances late, but I like the Washington defense to come up big in this game and help the Washington Football Team punch their playoff ticket.