The Philadelphia Eagles are in must-win territory as they prepare to visit the Washington Redskins on Saturday afternoon. A loss to Dallas on Sunday in a showdown for first place has left the Eagles needing to win their final two games – and even that may leave them on the outside of the NFC playoff picture. “The only thing that matters is our next game,” coach Chip Kelly said. “If we don’t beat Washington, it’s kind of a moot point anyway.”
Philadelphia rallied from a 10-point deficit in Week 3 to post a 37-34 victory over the Redskins, which marked Kirk Cousins’ first start of the season in place of an injured Robert Griffin III. Since then, Washington’s quarterback carousel has seen Colt McCoy replace an ineffective Cousins before yielding to Griffin, who was benched after three straight sub-par outings. McCoy reclaimed the starting position but was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, putting Griffin back under center.
TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network.
LINE HISTORY: Most shops opened the ‘Skins as 8-point home dogs, but that’s dropped slightly to +7.5.
WEATHER REPORT: Expect mostly cloudy conditions with temperatures hovering around 41°F at gametime. Northeast winds between 5-10 mph could have an affect on the matchup.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “The Eagles opened -8.5 and have dropped down to -7.5 (-105). Their first meeting of the year had Nick Foles and Kirk Cousins at the helm and Saturday it will be Sanchez against RGIII. Since their bye week, Washington has covered only one of their last five losing all five SU. Sanchez continues to be inconsistent, picking up where he left off with the Jets, so this game boils down to how well Sanchez performs and protects the ball. If he has a stellar game, the Eagles figure to win easily. But needing Sanchez to play well is sometimes too much of a hurdle to overcome.” Scott Kaminsky of TheGreek.com.
ABOUT THE EAGLES (9-5): Philadelphia rallied from a 21-point deficit before fading late against the Cowboys to suffer back-to-back defeats for the first time since October 2013. Quarterback Mark Sanchez threw for only 96 yards in a home loss to Seattle on Dec. 7 and was intercepted twice against Dallas – the fourth time in seven games he has been picked off two times. Consistency continues to be an issue for the running game, with LeSean McCoy averaging 57 yards rushing in the past two losses after amassing 289 yards and a pair of scores in the previous two games. Jeremy Maclin had 10 catches for 154 yards in Week 3, his fourth 100-yard game in five meetings versus Washington.
ABOUT THE REDSKINS (3-11): Griffin threw for 236 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 46 yards on five carries, but was also sacked seven times in last week’s 24-13 loss to the New York Giants – Washington’s sixth consecutive defeat. “It’s not been a fun year,” Griffin said. “We’ve had a lot of turmoil, a lot of things going on. At the end of the day, you suit up and when your number’s called, be ready to play.” Wideout DeSean Jackson, released by Philadelphia in the offseason before signing with the Redskins, had five receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown versus the Eagles in September but insisted he has no extra motivation for the return matchup.
*Redskins are 1-5 ATS in their last six overall.
*Over is 5-2 in the Eagles’ last seven.
*Under is 4-0 in Washington’s last four home games.
*Favorite is 6-2 in their last eight meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: According to Covers Consensus, 69 percent of Covers users are backing the Eagles to cover the spread.
San Diego Chargers at San Francisco 49ers (-1.5, 40.5)
San Francisco was eliminated from postseason contention and the San Diego Chargers will look to avoid a similar fate when they head north to visit the 49ers on Saturday night. The Chargers have to win their final two games and hope for plenty of help to claim one of the AFC’s wild card slots. Quarterback Philip Rivers did not practice the past two days and leading receiver Keenan Allen is done for the season with a fractured collarbone.
Rivers, who has not missed consecutive practices since prior to the AFC title game in 2007 said he had “no doubt” he would play Saturday against San Francisco, which suffered its third straight defeat last week at Seattle to end its postseason hopes. The 49ers have been a soap opera all season with speculation revolving around the future of coach Jim Harbaugh. They added another chapter Wednesday with the release of defensive tackle Ray McDonald on suspicion of sexual-assault charges.
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS, NFL Network.
LINE HISTORY: The majority of books opened the Niners as 3-point home faves, but that’s been bet down to -1.5 at most places.
WEATHER REPORT: The forecast is calling for mostly cloudy skies in the Bay Area at kickoff with temperatures around 58°F. Western gusts between 5-10 mph are also expected at gametime.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We opened San Francisco -3 (Even) and sharp money came in on San Diego and knocked the line down to -1 (-110). With San Francisco out of the playoff picture and having trouble scoring, it’s reasonable to see a little movement towards San Diego. But Rivers has been playing with a very bad back for at least three weeks. We felt San Francisco’s defense, which has been playing solid for the most part, will stifle Rivers.” Scott Kaminsky, senior lines manager at TheGreek.com.
ABOUT THE CHARGERS (8-6): Running back Ryan Mathews (ankle) sat out last week’s game and also did not practice Wednesday, another blow to an offense that has scored only 24 points in back-to-back home losses to New England and Denver. “It’s just a two-game streak against the two top teams in the conference,” Rivers said. “It’s not like we’ve lost to the bottom of the barrel.” Rivers has 27 touchdowns passes against only 13 interceptions, but he has been picked off as many times (10) as he has scoring passes in the past eight games. Antonio Gates hauled in his 10th TD pass last week, joining Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots as the only tight ends to reach double digits four times.
ABOUT THE 49ERS (7-7): San Francisco’s offense has gone belly-up over the past two months, managed a combined 23 points during the three-game skid while failing to score more than 17 in seven of its last eight games. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is averaging 145.3 yards passing with one touchdown and four interceptions in the last three – two against his nemesis Seattle – and has completed less than 58 percent of his passes in five of the last six outings. The running game is also in disarray after Frank Gore (concussion) and rookie Carlos Hyde (knee) were hurt last week. The defense has acquitted itself well, permitting 16.6 points over the past five games.
*Chargers are 1-8 ATS in their last nine overall.
*Under is 5-0 in 49ers’ last five overall.
*49ers are 0-3-1 ATS in their last four games.
*Over is 8-3 in Chargers last 11 games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 60 percent of Covers users are presently backing the Bolts to cover the spread.