Before every Washington Football Team game this year, Pete Hailey will identify one key number that you must know regarding that contest.
Here is his number for the Week 17 showdown with the Eagles.
During the (very short) brainstorming stage for this story, thought was given to making the number one, as in: "If Washington wins one game on Sunday, then they'll be in the playoffs." That certainly would've made for a tidy post.
Eventually, however, a little research dug up something useful, and that something will hopefully educate the millions of readers who flock to this blog every time it's published, at least more so than, "If Washington wins one game on Sunday, then they'll be in the playoffs."
Jack Del Rio's defense is going to need to show up at Lincoln Financial Field. Actually, they need to show up, walk in, drop their things in the living room and make themselves very comfortable. Their partners on offense have QB questions and may be without Terry McLaurin, which means they must control the game.
One way they could do so is by forcing turnovers. Multiple turnovers.
Fortunately, their opponent is perfect for just that.
The Eagles have given the ball away 26 times in 2020, which is the third-worst mark in the NFL. Their -9 differential is also third-worst.
While Carson Wentz and his tendency for mind-numbing interceptions is the main reason for that nasty stat, it's not like Jalen Hurts has come in and put the ball in a safe deposit box. The rookie has fumbled six times in his three starts and nine times overall. He's loose with it, too.
So, should Chase Young, Montez Sweat or another D-lineman find himself in a position to sack Hurts, getting one hand on the ball in order to strip it has got to be a priority as well. Same with Kam Curl or the other second-level guys if Hurts breaks the pocket and begins to rush upfield.
And if the Burgundy and Gold can somehow figure out a way to force one early, either via Hurts or one of his teammates, that will go a long way in making an already-undermanned Eagles group even less interested in finishing their lost season in strong fashion.
The potential return of Alex Smith to the lineup or the possibility of relying on Taylor Heinicke in such a major matchup has been the main topic of discussion all week for Ron Rivera's side. Del Rio's unit, though, should look to become the focus on Sunday night by dominating Philadelphia. The goal should be to take the ball, take their pride and then take a big step into the postseason.