NFL Sunday Night Football: Eagles/Football Team Preview

by Alec McMordie

Sunday Night Football on NBC will determine the first place in the NFC East, which inherits the fourth seed in the NFC playoffs next week.

A victory for Washington clinches the NFC East and hosting a wildcard playoff game next week. The Football Team also makes the playoffs as the NFC East champion with a tie combining with a Dallas loss or tie earlier in the afternoon against the New York Giants.

Washington has lost two straight games to fall to a 6-9 record after their 20-13 loss to Carolina last Sunday as a 1-point underdog. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins was benched mid-game after completing 14 of 28 passes for 154 yards with two interceptions. After Haskins violated league policy by avoiding the media after the game, head coach Ron Rivera had enough and released him on Monday from the team. Backup Taylor Heinicke completed 12 of 19 passes for 137 yards with a touchdown while adding 22 yards on the ground.

Rivera hopes that Alex Smith can return for this game after nursing a calf injury the last two weeks. The veteran has completed 66.4% of his passes this season for 1420 yards in seven games. He has thrown four touchdown passes but with six interceptions.

Smith is officially listed as questionable, but he did participate in limited reps on Friday during the team’s last practice. Reports seemed good on Saturday. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin and running back Antonio Gibson are also questionable with injuries that did keep them from practice on Friday.

Philadelphia was eliminated from the playoffs after their 37-17 upset loss at Dallas as a 3-point favorite. The Eagles have stumbled down the stretch with six losses in their last seven games. They raced out to a 14-3 lead against the Cowboys but did not score in the second half.

Reports on Saturday indicated that the Philadelphia organization will retain head coach Doug Pederson for next season despite the disappointing 4-10-1 record. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz declared on Saturday that he is stepping away from football next year.

The Eagles declared nine players out for this game on Saturday, including many starters: running back Miles Sanders; wide receiver DeSean Jackson; tackle Jordan Malta; tight end Dallas Goedert; tight end Richard Rodgers; defensive end Derek Barnett; defensive tackle Fletcher Cox; linebacker Shaun Bradley; linebacker Duke Riley. Philadelphia has 14 other players either out the season or on Injured Reserve, including a handful of offensive linemen that have left that unit in shambles all season. Cornerback Jalen Mills is out with COVID. Cornerback Michael Jacquet is questionable with a calf injury. Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Quez Watkins were not listed anywhere, which means they are not in the team’s plans for the game.

Rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts start for the fourth straight week. He completed 21 of 39 passes last week against the Cowboys for 342 yards with a touchdown but two interceptions. He added 69 rushing yards. Since Week 14, when he took over under center, the Eagles have averaged 437.3 yards-per-game which is the second-highest mark in the league and 120 yards more per game than their average, with Carson Wentz at quarterback. Philadelphia averaged 171.3 rushing yards-per-game while generating 25 big plays that rank fourth and tied for eighth in the NFL.

BetAnySports lists Washington as a 4-point favorite with the total at 44. Kickoff is at 8:20 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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