WFT at Eagles

Updated January 3, 2021 at 9:25 AM CT

Washington at Philadelphia

When: 8:20 PM ET, Sunday, January 3, 2021

Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

RADIO: Westwood One: Ryan Radtke, Ron Jaworski

SIRIUS: 81 (Was), 83 (Phi) | XM: 226 (Was), 225 (Phi), 88 (National)


WAS 65%, PHI 35%

Over/Under: 44

Favorite: WASH-NFL (-4)

      The battle for the last playoff spot comes down to the last game of the season. The Washington Football Team (6-9), which began the season by abandoning the “Redskins” nickname and ends it by moving on from a controversial quarterback, will clinch the NFC East with a victory Sunday night against the host Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1).

A loss to the Eagles will give the division title and No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs to the winner of Sunday afternoon’s game between the visiting Dallas Cowboys (6-9) and New York Giants (5-10).

Washington played well in two previous appearances in the national spotlight, roasting the Cowboys 41-16 on Thanksgiving Day and defeating the previously unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers 23-17 in a Monday game in Week 13. Both of those wins were on the road.

“The one thing I will say, the other two games we’ve been on the stage: our guys came out and played well and had fun,” said head coach Ron Rivera. “That’s the biggest thing. We’ve got to get back to having a little bit of fun. The truth of the matter is we’re playing with house money. That’s the best part about it.”

In his first season on the job, Rivera has Washington on the brink of its first playoff berth since 2015.

“Take the pressure off ourselves and go have fun. That’s the truth of the matter,” Rivera said. “We control our own destiny. It’s in our hands. All the cliches. We’re going to have fun with it and go with it.”

Second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins won’t be part of the fun. Washington released the 2019 first-round pick on Monday, the day after he committed three turnovers in a 20-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers and a few days after he was fined $40,000 and stripped of his captaincy for COVID-19 protocol violations.

Haskins passed for 178 yards and a touchdown in Washington’s season-opening 27-17 victory against Carson Wentz and the Eagles. Sixteen weeks later, Haskins is gone and Wentz is on the bench for the fourth straight game since losing his job to rookie Jalen Hurts.

Quarterback Alex Smith has been officially cleared to start in tonight’s game. The team has every expectation that Smith can play a full game despite a calf injury that sidelined him for the past two weeks.

With Dwayne Haskins surprisingly cut this week, Rivera will be forced to again turn to Taylor Heinicke if Smith aggravates his injury. Haskins started the last two games - both losses - but was benched in favor of Heinicke in Week 16.

Smith is a favorite to win Comeback Player of the Year after resuming his career following a life-threatening leg injury that required 17 surgeries. He has thrown for 1,420 yards and four touchdowns against six interceptions in seven starts and owns a 4-3 record.

The Eagles, who have allowed 1,039 yards in their last two losses, want to make sure whoever is under center for Washington does not have any fun Sunday night.

Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz issued a “no-hat rule” this week, meaning he wants to make sure Washington doesn’t get to celebrate at Lincoln Financial Field.

“We’ve got to have a no-hat rule this week,” he said. “We can’t let opponents put division win hats on at the Linc. There’s a lot of pride in that, and all our focus has to be to accomplishing that this week.”

Nine players did not practice for the Eagles on Wednesday, including defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (neck), defensive end Derek Barnett (calf), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (ankle) and tight end Dallas Goedert (calf). Linebacker Duke Riley (biceps) was a limited participant.

In addition to Smith, leading rusher Antonio Gibson (toe) and leading receiver Terry McLaurin (ankle) were among the six players held out of practice Wednesday by Washington. Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (ankle) and defensive tackle Tim Settle (shoulder) were limited participants.


• QB ALEX SMITH passed for 251 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 113.8 rating in his last start vs. Phi. (9/17/17 w/ KC). Has 80+ passer rating in 3 of his 4 road starts this season. QB TAYLOR HEINICKE completed 12 of 19 attempts (63.2 pct.) for 137 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 102.3 rating & had 22 rush yards in Was. debut in Week 16.

• RB ANTONIO GIBSON (rookie) rushed for 61 yards last week. Has 7 rush TDs in 6 road games this season. Aims for his 4th in row vs. NFC East with rush TD. Leads rookies & ranks tied- 5th in NFL with 11 rush TDs in 2020. RB J.D. MCKISSIC had 8 receptions, 92 scrimmage yards (77 rec., 15 rush) & TD catch in Week 16. Aims for his 3rd in row with 90+ scrimmage yards & rec. TD. Ranks 2nd among RBs with career-high 75 receptions, most by Was. RB since LARRY CENTERS (81 receptions in 2000).

• WR TERRY MCLAURIN has 15 receptions for 316 yards (105.3 per game) & 2 rec. TDs in 3 career games vs. Phi. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Phi. & 4th in row on road vs. NFC East with 5+ receptions. TE LOGAN THOMAS had 7 catches for 63 yards last week. Has career-highs in receptions (69), rec. yards (633) & TD catches (5) in 2020. Aims for his 5th in row with 6+ catches.

• DE CHASE YOUNG (rookie) had sack, FF & FR in Week 16. Has FF & FR in 2 of his past 3. Leads all rookies in sacks (6.5), TFL (9) & FFs (4). Had 1.5 sacks & FF in Week 1 meeting. DE MONTEZ SWEAT had career-high 8th sack of season last week. Had sack & 2 TFL in Week 1 meeting. DT DARON PAYNE has sack in 2 of his past 3. Had FF in Week 1 meeting. LB COLE HOLCOMB had season-high 11 tackles & sack last week.


• QB JALEN HURTS (rookie) passed for 342 yards & TD & had 69 rush yards last week. Joined MICHEAL VICK (2011) as only QBs with 300+ pass yards & 50+ rush yards in consecutive games in NFL history. Joined LAMAR JACKSON as only QBs with 50+ rush yards in each of 1st 3 career starts in NFL history. Had TD vs. 0 INTs for 83.6 rating & 106 rush yards in only career home start (Week 14 vs. NO).

• RB MILES SANDERS had 84 scrimmage yards (57 rush, 27 rec.) & rush TD last week. Had career-high 172 scrimmage yards (122 rush, 50 rec.) & 2 TDs (1 rush, 1 rec.) in his last game vs. Was. (12/15/19). Is 1 of 4 RBs (NICK CHUBB, DERRICK HENRY & AARON JONES) with 4.9+ yards per carry (4.9) since 2019 (min. 300 attempts).

• WR DESEAN JACKSON had 81-yard TD catch in Week 16. Has 5 career rec. TDs of 80+ yards, tied with HOFers LANCE ALWORTH, BOB HAYES & JERRY RICE, & DERRICK ALEXANDER for most in NFL history. TE ZACH ERTZ had rec. TD in Week 1 meeting & aims for his 3rd in row vs. Was. with TD catch. TE DALLAS GOEDERT had 8 receptions for 101 yards & rec. TD in Week 1 meeting.

• DE BRANDON GRAHAM had sack last week. Has 7 TFL in his past 5 vs. Was. DT FLETCHER COX has 4 sacks & 9 TFL in 7 home games this season & aims for his 8th in row at home with TFL. DE JOSH SWEAT had sack & FF in Week 1. CB DARIUS SLAY had 1st INT of season last week. Has 3 PD in his past 3 vs. Was. Leads NFL with 110 PD since 2013. LB ALEX SINGLETON had team-high 8 tackles in Week 16. TV: NBC (8:20 PM ET): Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (field reporter) 



Ran DeBord - All Access Sporting News

 Follow @AASNSports on Twitter, or me, @RanDeBord

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