Early bettors have caused quite a line swing prior to SNF
By Reed Wallach – Jan 2, 2021, 7:15pm
Game 256 of the NFL season pits the Washington Football Team against the Philadelphia Eagles. The stakes are simple for Washington: win and they’re in. Washington was installed as a 3.5-point favorite on the betting line heading into Sunday’s game.
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Washington Football Team (-3.5, 43.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
This regular season finale opened at DraftKings Sportsbook with the Eagles -1.5, but has since moved to the Football Team -3.5.
This swift line move was based on head coach Ron Rivera saying he is “optimistic” Alex Smith is in line to start after missing two straight games with a calf injury.
It’s worth mentioning that Smith was on track to start in Week 16 before having a setback over the weekend and being ruled out. If Smith can’t go, or finish the game, the Football Team will turn to Taylor Heinicke to fill in at quarterback.
Since the 2015-2016 season, divisional home underdogs in Week 17 catching 3 points or less are 6-3 against the spread (ATS).
Five of Washington’s last six games have gone under the total, while Philadelphia has cashed three straight overs since rookie Jalen Hurts was named the starting quarterback.
Doug Pederson has struggled as a divisional underdog. He is 1-6 ATS as a head coach in this spot.
This game provides some interesting angles to explore, but it all starts with questioning Philadelphia’s motivation in Week 17.
The Eagles’ season ended last week in Dallas, but I do believe we are going to get a strong effort from Philly here. Hurts has shown flashes of promise and is using every chance to secure his spot as the Eagles’ franchise at quarterback.
Hurts is in for a tough matchup against a Washington defensive front that features presumptive Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young and a line that is top-five in adjusted sack rate, according to Football Outsiders. The Washington defense has pushed the team into the driver seat of the division and it should thrive once again in the season deciding matchup.
As for the Washington offense, there are more questions outside of just the starting quarterback. The team’s No. 1 receiver Terry McLaurin’s status is up in the air after suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 15. He missed Week 16 and Rivera told the media he is in a walking boot early in the week.
Rookie running back Antonio Gibson was back last Sunday and had 10 carries for 61 yards, a promising sign after missing a pair of games with turf toe. The Memphis product is the Football Team’s most dynamic threat out of the backfield. He has 961 yards on 186 touches this season and could be facing a banged up Philly front seven on Sunday night.
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox left last Sunday’s game with a stinger and the results were grim for the Eagles. After Cox came out, Philly was outscored 34-3. The D, that entered Week 16 with the second most sacks in the NFL, 44, could not generate any pressure in the backfield. Ezekiel Elliot was able to surpass 100 yards on the ground for just the second time in 2020.
The Eagles will be severely short-handed for this game with Cox, RB Miles Sanders, WR Desean Jackson, and six other players ruled out.
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I project this one closer to 40 points and see the under as the play in the 2020 finale.
Washington’s defense will be the best unit on the field and able to slow down Hurts. While having some key offensive players back will be crucial to Washington’s chances at winning the division, this offense has not scored more than 23 points since Thanksgiving and the game plan may be altered to be more run-heavy with Smith set to return off a leg injury.
BetQL has this game projected as a pick’em, showing value to the home underdog Eagles (+3.5). It is siding with the under as well, projecting 41.5 for the total. Check out more from the BetQL model for updated information as we get closer to kickoff.