Eagles vs Washington Game Preview - Keys to the Game
The Eagles and Washington will be facing off for the second time this season, as the Eagles won 27-17 in a game that was not as close as the score indicated. Not only is this game in FedEx Field, but Taylor Heinicke is back for Washington. Although Washington's starting signal caller is back under center for Week 17, Heinicke has been struggling of late, and the Football Team will be missing four starters. Washington will be without their second-best offensive weapon in Antonio Gibson (Reserve/Covid-19), along with starting cornerback William Jackson III (hamstring), starting offensive guard Ereck Flowers (Reserve/Covid-19), starting offensive tackle Samual Cosmi (Reserve/Covid-19), and it is unlikely starting defensive end Montez Sweat plays (personal matters). All in all, the Eagles will be facing an ice-cold Washington team, and they could clinch their ticket to the playoffs with a win over Washington if the Packers and 49ers win later today. But first, the Eagles must take care of business and avoid a letdown.
Keys to the Game:
Over the last three games, Philly has gotten off to slow starts, as they have gone into the second quarter either tied or trailing in all three games. However, the birds were able to pull away against sub-par teams, outscoring their opponents by 21 in the second quarter, and 43 in the second half. However, the Eagles cannot afford to get off to a slow start in a hostile environment, as Washington will be playing with a chip on their should after three straight losses.
Philly is leading the league in rushing, and that is not by accident. But without their leading rusher Miles Sanders, the birds will look to Jordan Howard and Boston Scott to get most of the carries. Scott and Howard were extremely efficient when Sanders was out earlier in the season, but the rushing attack is not as dynamic without Sanders. This game will rely on the arm of Jalen Hurts, but he will need the veteran backs to do what is asked of them. Scott and Howard won't break free in the secondary for 30 yards like Sanders does, but they will need to be consistent and keep the Eagles ahead of the sticks. If they can do that, the birds should be in good shape.
Washington is without their starting right guard and right tackle, so the defensive line will need to control the outcome of this game. The sack numbers are down from a season ago due Gannon's defensive scheme, but the defensive line is just as good, if not better. Josh Sweat and Derek Barnett at the top of the league in pass rush success, and both will need to speed up Heinicke and force him into bad throws. Taylor Heinicke gets rid of the ball quickly, but he can also make some off script throws when things break down. If Sweat and Barnett can get off the edge quickly and speed up Heinicke's decision making, it could untimely lead to a few turnovers by the first year starter.
The Eagles are riding a three game win streak heading into Week 17, but they cannot afford an upset on the road, as their playoff hopes would then rely of a rivalry matchup between the Dallas Cowboys.