The NFC playoffs could be totally set depending on what happens around the league in Week 16. Unbeaten Carolina can clinch home-field advantage throughout with a win in Atlanta. Arizona can lock up a first-round bye with a win over Green Bay. The Packers can win the NFC North. Minnesota can clinch a postseason berth. But the game of the week is clearly Washington at Philadelphia with the NFC East title perhaps on the line. The Eagles are 3-point favorites for the rare Saturday game with a total of 48.
WIN AND IN FOR WASHINGTON
It’s pretty simple for Washington (7-7): Win Saturday and the Redskins are NFC East champions, which would be a pretty stunning turn of events considering just about every expert worth his salt picked Washington to finish last in the division again. In fact, Coach Jay Gruden was the preseason betting favorite to be the first coach fired in 2015.
Gruden was widely criticized when he went with Kirk Cousins as his starter this year over former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III. It has been a brilliant move. Cousins is going to cash in as a free-agent-to-be, either by being slapped with the franchise tag by the Redskins or getting a long-term deal. The franchise tag for a quarterback this offseason is estimated to be $18.51 million — a sizable jump from Cousin’s base salary of $660,000. Cousins leads the NFL in completion percentage at 69.7, completing 336 of 482 for 3,625 yards, 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He has thrown 16 touchdowns to only three interceptions in the last eight games.
However, while Cousins’ numbers at home are among the best in the NFL, on the road they’re among the worst. That’s why Washington has only one away victory (at Chicago). Cousins has a passer rating of 74.6 on the road (30th) and 117.0 at home (second). The schedule has played a role. The Redskins’ six road opponents thus far have a .630 winning percentage and include Super Bowl favorites New England and Carolina. At home, no team they played will finish with a winning record and they are currently a combined 19 games under .500. Three of their eight home opponents are currently in the bottom 10 in opposing quarterbacks’ passer rating. The Eagles are allowing 259.0 passing yards per game with 30 touchdowns allowed and 15 picked off. That’s a rating of 90.4, which is 15th.
EAGLES CONTROL DESTINY
Philadelphia (6-8) was bombed at home by Arizona in Week 15, but the Eagles still control their destiny to win the division. Simply win this week and then next at the New York Giants and they are in. Even New York is alive. If it wins Sunday at Minnesota and Week 17 vs. Philadelphia, and the Redskins lose to Philadelphia and then Week 17 at Dallas, the Giants take the sorry NFC East.
On sportsbooks odds to win the division, Washington is 1.7143, Philadelphia 2.6000 and New York 8.0000.
In Week 4, the Redskins beat the visiting Eagles 23-20. Cousins capped a 90-yard drive with a go-ahead, 4-yard TD toss to Pierre Garcon with 26 seconds left. Sam Bradford threw three second-half touchdown passes for the Eagles, who trailed 13-0 at halftime. Philly kicker Caleb Sturgis missed an extra-point attempt and a 33-yard field-goal try.