Washington Commanders vs. Philadelphia Eagles Preview: Prediction, Best Bets, Odds, Depth Charts (10/1/23)
The undefeated Philadelphia Eagles host the 2-1 Washington Commanders this Sunday (10/1/23) at 1 p.m. ET in week 4 of the 2023 NFL season. It’s both teams’ first game against an NFC East opponent this season.
The Eagles are big betting favorites at -8.5 on the spread, while the over/under is set at 43.5. This article provides Commanders vs. Eagles analysis, predictions and betting recommendations and explains why the best bet in this matchup is the under on 43.5 points.
Commanders vs. Eagles Prediction & Best Bet
The Commanders handed the Eagles their first loss last season on Monday Night Football after Philadelphia started the season 8-0. That was Eagles’ QB Jalen Hurts’ only regular-season loss in his last 21 starts.
Don’t expect a repeat of that outcome this year. What is much more likely is a repeat of the other Eagles-Commanders game last year, a week 3 matchup in which the Eagles sacked Washington’s then-starting QB Carson Wentz a whopping nine times en route to a 24-8 blowout victory.
This year’s Commanders team has similar issues protecting the quarterback as the one that the Eagles terrorized just over 1 year ago. They have allowed the most sacks in the league so far this year by a wide margin. Their 19 sacks allowed are 6 more than the next worst team, and the most that any team has given up after three games since the 2006 Raiders.
According to Pro Football Focus, 7 of the Commanders’ 19 sacks allowed are directly attributable to quarterback Sam Howell, which is also the most in the league. Howell is holding onto the ball too long and in some cases running into sacks. This graphic pretty much says it all.
QB Sack Rate and Interceptions
(Week 3, prior to SNF/MNF)
— Doug Analytics (@Doug_Analytics) September 25, 2023
Howell has allowed a league-leading 39.6% of pressures to be converted into sacks, per PFF. The Eagles are 2nd in the league with 40 pressures and a 30.3% pressure rate. That is not a good combination for Washington.
The recipe for the Commanders in the game they won last year was an effective rushing attack that allowed them to control the clock and keep the Eagles’ explosive offense off the field. They had 83 offensive plays compared to the Eagles’ 50, and they had more than double the time of possession.
It will be very difficult for Washington to deploy a similar game plan this week, as the Eagles currently lead the league in rushing defense with 48.3 yards allowed per game, and they are 4th with 3.0 yards per carry allowed.
The Eagles likely will not be quite as dominant defensively as the Bills were against Washington last week, but it’s realistic that they could be similarly effective. That’s why the best bet in this game is the under on 43.5 points. It would be surprising if the Commanders scored two touchdowns in this game, which means the Eagles would likely need to score 30+ points for the over to hit.
While Philly is certainly capable of doing that, they also might not need to. They are 2nd in the league in rushing on the most attempts per game, and D’Andre Swift has had back-to-back 100-yard games. If that trend continues, it will slow down the game and limit the number of possessions and hence limit the scoring.
If the game plays out as expected, then the Eagles should easily cover the spread, but that is more unpredictable compared to betting the under.
Commanders vs. Eagles Prediction & Best Bet: Eagles 26-13, Eagles -8, under 43.5 (best bet)
Commanders vs. Eagles Betting Odds
WAS @ PHI
Oct. 01, 12:00 PM
Odds updated October 1st, 2023, at 3:35 pm
It’s no surprise the Eagles are heavy favorites in this game, and the line is moving slightly in the Eagles’ direction, as some books opened at Eagles -7.5 and most are now at -8.5. That trend could continue with public money coming in heavily on the Eagles, but it’s unlikely it would get higher than -9.5, if it even gets that high.
The total is trending down, sitting at 43.5 as of this writing after opening at 45.5. It seems unlikely it would drop much lower than that, and it could creep back up but will likely close within 0.5 of that number.
The implied outcome of these odds is the Eagles winning 26-17.
Commanders vs. Eagles Key Injuries
The Commanders only have one injury worth monitoring, which is starting TE Logan Thomas clearing concussion protocol. Their two starting cornerbacks, Emmanuel Forbes and Benjamin St. Juste, are both on the injury report, but both are expected to play.
The Eagles got a few players back from injury last week, and while they had a few players sustain new injuries, most of those players are expected to play this week. The players most at risk of missing this game are safeties Justin Evans and rookie Sydney Brown, who both left the last game and did not return. If they both miss this game, the Eagles will be very thin at safety, and they already lost slot cornerback Avonte Maddox for the season. WR Quez Watkins, who missed the last game with a hamstring injury, is also trending towards missing this game.
Commanders vs. Eagles Key Matchups
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Commanders vs. Eagles below.
Eagles’ offensive line vs. Commanders’ defensive line
The most important matchup (or mismatch) in this game is the Commanders’ offensive line against the Eagles’ pass rush, but we covered that topic extensively above, so let’s focus on the other key matchup along the line of scrimmage. The two units in this matchup are the biggest strengths of their respective teams, making this the most competitive battle in this game.
The Commanders have four first-round picks along their defensive line with edge rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat and defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. The latter three are all graded by PFF as top 25 players at their positions so far this season.
Meanwhile, the Eagles have arguably the best offensive line in the league, which has been a huge reason they lead the league in rushing. They are opening up gaping holes for D’Andre Swift. LT Jordan Mailata and RT Lane Johnson have both graded out as top 10 players at their positions, while LG Landon Dickerson and C Jason Kelce are both in the top 20.
The Eagles should be able to run the ball with Swift against this defense, which is currently allowing 4.8 yards per carry (27th in the league).
In pass protection, the key matchup to watch here is Eagles RG Cam Jurgens against Payne and Allen. Jurgens was a 2022 2nd round pick who is the heir apparent to Kelce at center and has been very solid at RG so far this season, but he is clearly the most vulnerable Eagles lineman. Look for the Commanders to try to create 1-on-1 situations for Payne and Allen against Jurgens, which could be their best strategy to get pressure on Jalen Hurts.
Brian Robinson Jr. vs. Eagles’ run defense
We mentioned above that an effective running game was one of the big keys for Washington when they beat the Eagles last season, but this year’s Eagles team has been much stouter against the run. It’s still early in the season though, and some numbers can be deceiving, so the Commanders should not be deterred from trying to establish the run in this matchup.
Brian Robinson Jr. is off to a strong start in his second season after his rookie year was derailed by the gunshot wound he sustained before the season. He is currently 7th in the league in rushing and averaging 4.6 yards per carry, which is 7th among RBs with at least 30 carries. He also leads the league with 16 rushes for a first down.
— NFL (@NFL) September 19, 2023
The biggest benefit of the Commanders’ rushing attack against the Eagles last year was that it helped them avoid second/third and long situations. They only averaged 3.1 yards per carry in that game, but they were 12-of-21 on third down. If they can come close to replicating that type of performance, they will have a much better chance of keeping this game close and giving themselves a chance at another upset, or at least at covering the spread.