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It is very hard to handicap a game when you don't know who's playing. And it's especially difficult if you don't know who's playing quarterback. At the moment, BetAnySportscustomers are hit with this dilemma in the rescheduled game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Football Team. If you are making your NFL picks for this one, you may want to wait and see who passes their tests.
And what we mean by that is, their tests for Covid-19, which has, by way of an outbreak, wreaked all kinds of havoc on the NFL schedule.
We're not sure of the exact count, but Washington has had over 20 players on the reserve list. And while coach Ron Rivera insists that 80% percent of those guys are asymptomatic, the protocol itself still has the potential of keeping them out.
What's painful here is that starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke and his backup, Kyle Allen, are, as of press time, not eligible to play. So this team may be forced to go with Garrett Gilbert as the starter. And he has not even been with the team for a week.
According to sports betting software companies, both Philadelphia and Washington are 6-7. That means they are still looking up at the contenders for the third wild-card spot in the NFC. The winner will be one game behind San Francisco for that spot. The Eagles are 7-6 against the spread, while the WFT is just by 5-8 vs. the number.
And speaking of the numbers, here are the NFL odds as they are posted at BetAnySports. As you'll notice, they are reflective of an absence of Washington's top two quarterbacks:
Philadelphia Eagles - 8
Washington Football Team + 8
Over 41 points -110
Under 41 points - 110
Gilbert, the son of former NFL quarterback Gale Gilbert, has played bits and pieces of eight years in the NFL and currently he is with his ninth club. Last year he had to make an emergency start for the Dallas Cowboys and acquitted himself well, throwing for 243 yards. But prior to that, he had thrown only six passes in the NFL.
He did spend time with the Carolina Panthers while Ron Rivera was the coach, so there is some familiarity there. And when given the opportunity to play on a regular basis in the Alliance of American Football, he led the league in passing yards at the time they folded.
Gilbert, who played at Texas and SMU, was signed off the practice squad of the New England Patriots on December 17 when Washington got into a QB fix. Since then he has taken all of the first-team snaps in practice, so he should be ready, to some extent.
Heinicke was doing pretty well for the WFT. Yea, he had thrown a dozen interceptions, but he has 19 touchdowns and 2931 yards. And Washington had four victories in its last five games. Things had started to come together for them, especially on the defensive end, where they have allowed just 294 yards a game over their last five. If you recall, Washington had a superior stop unit last year, and that is what propelled them to the NFC East title. So depending on what perspective you're looking at it from, you might say they're getting back to the kind of unit they were before, even without Chase Young, last year's rookie sensation, who is injured.
It was great news for Washington that a number of defensive lineman were cleared off the Covid list, including Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat. They will need those lineman to deal with the Philadelphia ground game, which has come on like a freight train. The Eagles lead the NFL with 160 rushing yards per game, and in averaging five yards per carry, they are second to Indianapolis in that department. They are the only NFL team that runs the ball more than half the time.
And they have won four out of their last six, even though two of those victories came against the Jets and Lions. But only two quarterbacks have thrown for more than 300 yards against them this season. Washington needs to not only be healthy, but ready to play on the defensive side of the ball.
Will they be? We are not so sure. We have become big fans of what Nick Sirianni has done in his first year on the job, and as long as Jalen Hurts doesn't get in too many bad down-and-distance situations, we feel we can side with Philadelphia, as we can't completely trust Gilbert.
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