Washington Football Team (6-7, 5-8 ATS) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-7, 7-6), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Washington Stats and Trends
Washington is dealing with a COVID outbreak with 21 players on the list as of Thursday morning.
Washington won both matchups against Philadelphia last season, but they split their season series ATS.
Washington had its four-game outright and ATS winning streak snapped in a seven-point loss to the Cowboys, which effectively knocked them out of contention in the NFC East.
Washington is 7-1 toward unders in its last eight games.
Antonio Gibson had a disastrous game against the Cowboys last week, posting 10/36 rushing and 2/5 receiving in a lopsided game. He finished with a 68% snap share even with J.D. McKissic (concussion) out of the lineup, after he lost his fourth fumble of the season and with the Football Team falling behind by three scores. McKissic has a chance to return to the lineup this week and the potential gamescript favors him with Washington entering as seven-point road underdogs (and growing with their COVID cases increasing). The Eagles are giving up 4.2 YPC and the fifth-most receptions per game (6.7) to RBs this season.
Taylor Heinicke left last week early with a knee injury, and he was downright bad before he left the game with his injury. He completed just 44% of his passes, he averaged 4.9 YPA, and he had two turnovers, with his fumble being returned for a touchdown. He’s thrown for one or fewer TDs in seven of his last nine games, but they’ll need him this week with Kyle Allen (COVID) likely out of the picture now. Zach Wilson posted 22.0 FP against the Eagles before their Week 14 bye.
Terry McLaurin left Week 14 early with a concussion, and he failed to catch any of his four targets before sustaining the injury. He’s now finished with fewer than 10 FP in each of his last three games and in six of his last nine contests. DeAndre Carter could be looking at bigger roles this week if McLaurin is unable to play — Cam Sims (COVID) will likely miss this week. Carter mustered just 2/12 receiving on five targets, and both WRs played on 59% of the snaps. The Eagles are giving up the third-fewest FPG (28.8) and the second-fewest receiving yards per game (128.8) to WRs this season.
Brolley’s Eagles Stats and Trends
The Eagles have won and covered in three of their last four games, and they’ll end the season with four straight games against the NFC East.
Philly is 5-2 toward overs in its last seven games.
Miles Sanders posted season-highs in touches (27) and scrimmage yards (142) in Philly’s last game against the Jets, but he still failed to find the end zone in his 10th game of the season. Jordan Howard (knee) and Boston Scott (illness) didn’t play in that contest, and they’ll likely be back in the mix to steal touches and potentially goal-line snaps this week. Washington is giving up the second-fewest rushing yards per game (65.9) and just 3.6 YPC to RBs.
Jalen Hurts missed Philadelphia’s last game before their Week 14 bye with an ankle injury, and Gardner Minshew filled in with 242/2 passing against a lowly Jets’ defense. Hurts had his worst game of the year the last time we saw him in Week 12. He posted season-worsts in completion percentage (45.2%), YPA (4.2), INTs (3), and FP (9.9) in a seven-point effort against the Giants. He’s reached 20+ FP just once in his last five games after making that mark in each of his first seven contests. Washington is still giving up the most FPG (22.3) to QBs, but they’ve held both Dak Prescott and Derek Carr to fewer than 13 FP in the last two weeks.
Dallas Goedert erupted for by far his best of the season in Philly’s last game by catching all six of his targets for 105 yards and two TDs with Minshew at quarterback. He had fallen below eight FP in three of his last four games with Hurts leading the offense. Washington limited Dalton Schultz to a four-yard catch on three targets last week, and they’re giving up the 12th-fewest FPG (11.7) to the position this season.
Devonta Smith hit the skids in his final two games before Philly’s bye with just 4/37 receiving on eight targets after posting 4+ catches and 60+ yards in three straight contests in Weeks 9-11. He’s now failed to top six targets in six straight games since the Eagles switched to a more run-heavy approach. The Cowboys’ big three WRs each posted 5+ passes and 50+ yards last week to give Smith a chance this week.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 30.8 (29th)
Plays per game: 68.0 (2nd)
Pass: 55.7% (26th) | Run: 44.3% (7th)
Pace: 29.2 (23rd)
Plays per game: 65.9 (7th)
Pass: 41.1% (32nd) | Run: 58.9% (1st)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
With over 100 players in the COVID protocols this week, every team is reeling with issues to one extent or another – but none more so than Washington. The Team is absolutely decimated right now and this spread has slid heavily in their favor all week. It opened at -3 Eagles and it’s now -10.
Regardless of who is under center and regardless of how close this game is, this sets up perfectly for what the Eagles want to do: Run the damn ball. Over the last eight weeks, the Eagles are first in run rate when leading (65.7%), first when the game is close (56.5%), and second when trailing (49.1%). Especially with Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, and Boston Scott all looking good to go, I’m expecting a 26-30 carries for their backfield and another 10 or so attempts for Jalen Hurts if he’s 100% healthy.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
The only matchup that I see both the upside worthy of our attention and lacking significant question marks as to health status and/or role in the offense is Dallas Goedert. In the seven games since Zach Ertz was traded to Arizona, Goedert has been on the field for at least 83% of the offensive snaps in six. Goedert left Week 10 early due to a concussion, so we can toss that failure in the data aside. Since Week 8 – sans Week 10, Goedert has garnered an average target share of 30%. Any TE that’s on the field for an average of ~87% of team passing plays and a 30% target share is a weekly target. We’re talking numbers only approached by Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews, and the guy who used to be Darren Waller. A couple others are on the cusp of reaching that elite grouping, but Goedert already holds membership to that elk lodge.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
UPDATE: Basically the entire WFT is on the COVID list, including starting QB Taylor Heinicke. Obviously, it goes without saying that this entire thing must be monitored, down to whether or not the game is even played as scheduled. For obvious reasons, the entire WFT is downgraded across the board, and the Eagles’ D/ST is an exceptional play.
Early this week, Philly coach Nick Sirianni wouldn’t commit to Jalen Hurts (ankle) starting at QB, though he said the second-year QB is progressing. Hurts split reps in practice this week with Gardner Minshew, which is at least a little concerning coming off of the bye. Hurts and Minshew had not split reps at all prior to Hurts’ injury, but Hurts got in a full practice on Friday.
Nick Sirianni says Jalen Hurts was a full participant in practice. Says he will be listed as questionable and is hopeful he plays #Eagles— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) December 17, 2021
Here’s Jake Tribbey from DFS Early Look with some context on Hurts:
“Hurts is expected to start in Week 15 for the first time since he injured his ankle in Week 12, and he seems to have come back at the perfect time, as he draws the best matchup for opposing QBs in the NFL — Washington.
The Football Team is giving up +4.2 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs (most by 27%) and the most fantasy points per pass attempt (0.53) of any team in the NFL. Hurts is averaging a league-leading 9.8 rushing FPG (3rd-best all-time if sustained for the full season), and Washington has been susceptible to rushing QBs this season, allowing the 4th-most rushing FPG (4.0) and the 3rd-most rushing yards (320) to opposing QBs. And Washington ranks 3rd-worst in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA (26.1%) and 9th-worst in PFF coverage grades (54.4).
Any way we look at this matchup, it’s an outstanding one for Hurts. Arguably the only bearish note is this game's low total (43.5). Hurts has only played 3 career games with a total under 44.0, but in those games, he’s averaged a respectable 22.5 FPG.”
Of course, either Hurts or Minshew will benefit from the Team’s COVID issues, which have affected virtually their entire defensive line. If Hurts is out, Minshew needs to be considered as a high-end QB2. In 2019, he averaged 19.8 FPG, which would rank 10th-best this season. And, in a comparably soft matchup against the Jets in Week 13, he earned a 133.7 passer rating, scoring 18.8 fantasy points on just 25 pass attempts.
He'll join DT Jonathan Allen, DE Montez Sweat, DT Tim Settle, DE James Smith-Williams, DE Casey Toohill, and DE Will Bradley-King on the COVID list.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) December 15, 2021
And WFT is also without Chase Young (torn ACL). https://t.co/BZOYkuGsPa
Whether it’s Hurts or Minshew, with Miles Sanders (ankle) and Jordan Howard (knee) both playing, the Eagles will likely try to run it down the throats of Washington. Here’s Graham on this potentially muddy situation from Start/Sit:
“Of course, this comes down to the options that you have on your bench because it may be hard to steer clear of Sanders with how bad the RB landscape is this week — but there is a chance that the Eagles could have their full backfield healthy here. Sanders was limited in practice coming out of their bye, which is good news, but Jordan Howard was back too and Boston Scott should get back to his usual role now that he’s over his sickness that held him out of practice in the lead up to their Week 13 game against the Jets.
There is a chance that the Eagles go with a full-blown three-man committee just like they did back in Week 11 vs. the Saints when all three of their RBs were healthy. In that game, Sanders led the way in carries (16) but Howard (10) and Scott (6) both got quite a bit of work as well. Washington has been excellent against the run this year (3.63 YPC allowed; second-best), but they’ll certainly be up against the wall with five of their 6 current defensive line starters out on the COVID list. So, the matchup on the ground will be easier for Sanders & Co. here – I’m just worried that Sanders’ floor is extremely low coming off a “setback” with his ankle and now that Howard is healthy. Sanders is a TD-dependent FLEX for the opening round of the playoffs.”
The Eagles, by the way, are not immune to the COVID pandemic but seem to have been taking extra steps to stay ahead of the curve. Sirianni mentioned the Eagles have shifted their meetings where there can be more space between players, which he views as a competitive advantage.
#FlyEaglesFly are probably going to get a free win due to covid outbreak in Washington. Philly has done great job keeping covid issues to a minimum for 2 years now. Have to credit VP of football operations Jon Ferrari, who has a lead role in team’s effort to combat the virus— Ryan Paganetti (@PaganettiRyan) December 15, 2021
Washington might not be a threat to score much, with QB Taylor Heinicke playing terrible football and backup QB Kyle Allen on the COVID list — Heinicke has been the NFL’s third-least accurate passer over the last three weeks as just 65.9% of his passes have been on-target. (Only Cam Newton (60%) and Taysom Hill (61.4%) have been worse.) Heinicke is dealing with an elbow injury in his throwing arm, which doesn’t help matters.
And now WR Terry McLaurin (concussion) — he was hurt on an awful throw from Heinicke — is questionable and Cam Sims, who made a spectacular catch last week on Heinicke’s only TD throw, is in the COVID protocol. It could be time for the TEs again.
Here’s Jake again doing some heavy lifting, from Streamers on Ricky Seals-Jones:
“In his starts this season, Seals-Jones has averaged 7.8 FPG, a mark that would rank 22nd among TEs. That’s obviously subpar, but Seals-Jones does have a few things going for him in Week 15 that push him into streaming consideration in deeper leagues.
The first is an elite matchup. Philadelphia has given up the most schedule-adjusted FPG (+5.8) to opposing TEs this season, and they’ve been even worse as of late, giving up +10.0 schedule-adjusted FPG over their last 5 games. And no team has allowed more receptions (88), yards (874), or TDs (11) to opposing TEs this season. In every sense, the Eagles’ defense funnels targets to the TE, exemplified by their league-leading 32% opposing TE target share.
Seals-Jones is primed to take advantage, as he averages as many red zone targets per game (1.3) and end zone targets per game (0.5) as George Kittle. On Washington, only Terry McLaurin sees better usage near the end zone than Seals-Jones, and McLaurin has a significantly tougher matchup, as the Eagles rank as the 3rd-toughest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing WRs (-6.4), and have allowed just 5 TDs to outside WRs this season (3rd-fewest). So, Seals-Jones may benefit from additional work close to the end zone should the Eagles defense give McLaurin trouble, as they’ve done to opposing WRs all season.
RSJ sets up as a mid-range TE2 this week, but he carries outstanding TD equity (for a TE2) in this elite matchup.”
Just keep in mind last week, that in his return from injury, RSJ ran routes on just 40% of dropbacks compared to 64% for rookie John Bates. Will that continue this week or will RSJ play more with his feet back under him?
It’s also worth wondering if the Team will reduce the workload of Antonio Gibson given his chronic fumbling issues. Even with JD McKissic (concussion) out last week, Gibson was benched for Jonathan Williams late following another fumble.
Antonio Gibson just fumbled for a sixth time this season. It's the fourth fumble he's lost, tying him for the second-most in the NFL.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) December 12, 2021