Sunday Night Football reaction: Washington pulls off a miracle

Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith drops back to pass during Sunday Night Football win over Philadelphia Eagles
Photo of Andrew Ortenberg

Andrew Ortenberg

NFL Ā· 1 year ago

Show Bio

I'm an editor here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up.

They actually did it. The Washington Football Team finished off one of the most improbable runs in recent NFL history on Sunday Night Football, toppling the Philadelphia Eagles 20-14 to clinch the NFC East and advance to the playoffs. It took a stunning sequence of events just to get here, and while a lot of the talk will certainly center around Doug Pederson’s controversial decision to bench Jalen Hurts, that doesn’t take anything away from what Washington accomplished.

The Giants can complain all they want, if they wanted to win the division they shouldn’t have gone 6-10, it’s as simple as that. Washington was an extreme long-shot, with odds as high as 30/1 at some sportsbooks to win the NFC East at the beginning of the year. So how did we get here? Let’s break it all down.

The culture has changed overnight

It’s pretty remarkable to see what Ron Rivera has pulled off in his first year in Washington in terms of turning the culture around. This time last year the team was a laughingstock with a toxic culture. The hiring of Rivera was a home run at the time, and it looks even better now in hindsight. The former Panthers coach had to overcome plenty of his own adversity along the way, as he was diagnosed with cancer shortly after accepting the job this past offseason.

Rivera was so fatigued from his chemotherapy treatments that he took naps inside the facility, and he still managed to lead this team from a 3-13 doormat to a division championship in just one season. He did it all while his first-round quarterback Dwayne Haskins flamed out in epic fashion, getting photographed mask-less with strippers right before a must-win game and eventually getting himself cut.

Have to be happy for Alex Smith

Smith is one of the best stories in the history of the NFL. He had 17 leg surgeries, nearly had to have his leg amputated, and almost died after getting sepsis. Despite all that he battled his way back into playing shape against unspeakably steep odds, and got his shot because of the aforementioned flameout. He never looked back, and his play under the circumstances will easily win him the Comeback Player of the Year award.

Heck, they should just name the award after him at this point. If I had told you at the beginning of the year that Smith would be starting a playoff game in January, you’d have called me crazy. If I had told you he would even take any meaningful snaps, you probably would’ve called me crazy. Washington went 5-1 in the games he started this season, and no matter what happens next it’s impossible not to feel happy for him.

The future is bright on defense

I expected this Washington defense to be good this season, but not this good. Second overall pick Chase Young was a revelation down the stretch, dominating games with his pass-rush. The other guys on the defensive line, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, and Montez Sweat, deserve all the credit in the world as well. As does defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.

They got great contributions from unheralded players like seventh-round rookie safety Kam Curl, and the unit always made plays when it mattered most. Making everything even sweeter is that for the most part the defense is very young, and should only continue to get better. Young, Allen, Payne, and Sweat are all 25 or younger, and Young is still only 21.

They have to figure out what they’ll do long-term at quarterback this offseason, but those questions can wait for now. With this defense, the future looks bright no matter what. I wrote back in June that this team might not be as bad as people expected. I can’t say I saw this coming, but clearly June sparked something magical in this team.

Pickswise is the home of freeĀ NFL predictions. Check out the latestĀ NFL propsĀ andĀ NFL parlaysĀ as well as expertĀ underdog predictionsĀ andĀ computer picks.

Virginia Bonuses

See All
PointsBet

$500

Get 5x $100 Risk-Free Bets!

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Make a bet of up to $100 and receive a refund if you lose

Get this offer once a day for the first 5 days you sign up

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

DraftKings

$200

Bet $5 on Any MLB Game, Get $200 if Your Team Wins!

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5 on any MLB team to win their next game

Win $200 in free bets + any cash winnings from your original wager

Offer valid for new players only. Must be 21 years or older to play. Reward paid in site credit. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Monkey Knife Fight

$100

Claim Instant Deposit Match up to $100 + Free $5 game

Register for a Monkey Knife Fight account & deposit using promo code PICKSWISE100

Monkey Knife Fight will match your first deposit up to $100

Deposit $100 and you'll get $100 bonus + a free $5 game

18+. Terms and conditions apply. You must live in one of the states where real money DFS is legal.

DraftKings

$100

Bet $5 on any UFC 276 fight, Get $100 instantly

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5 on any UFC 276 fight

Win $100 in free bets + any cash winnings from your original wager

Offer valid for new players only. Must be 21 years or older to play. Reward paid in site credit. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

PointsBet

$2,000

Get $2,000 in Risk-Free Bets!

Register for a new PointsBet account & deposit

Receive a free bet refund up to $500 if your first fixed odds bet loses

& a free bet refund up to $1,500 if your first two PointsBetting Wager loses

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Caesars Sportsbook

$1,500

Get up to $1,500 Risk-Free First Bet!

Sign up for a new Caesars Sportsbook account

Make your first deposit of $50+

If your first bet is not a winner, get it all back as a free bet (up to $1,100) if you lose!

21+. Terms and conditions apply.

BetRivers

$250

Get a $250 Deposit Bonus!

Sign up for a new BetRivers account using promo code PICKSWISE

Make a deposit & get it doubled up to $250 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $100

Must be 21+. Play in IA Only. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF

Unibet

$500

Get a $500 Risk-Free Bet!

Register for a new Unibet account & make a deposit

Place your first bet up to $500 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $500

New players only. Terms & conditions apply. 21+. VA only.

BetMGM

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Risk Free Bet!

Register for a new BetMGM & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

FanDuel Sportsbook

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Risk Free Bet!

Register for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

DraftKings

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus!

Register for a new DraftKings Sportsbook account & deposit

DraftKings will match 20% of your deposit up to $1,000 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $500

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

Monkey Knife Fight

$100

Claim 100% Instant Deposit Match up to $100!

Register for a Monkey Knife Fight account & deposit using promo code PICKSWISE100

Monkey Knife Fight will match your first deposit up to $100

Deposit $100 and you'll get $100 bonus + a free $5 game

18+. Terms and conditions apply. You must live in one of the states where real money DFS is legal.

Yahoo DFS

$25

Get $25 in Site Credit With Yahoo DFS When You Deposit $5!

Register for a new account with Yahoo DFS and deposit $5+

Enter a $5 DFS contest

Upon entry, you will receive a bonus $25 in credit into your account!

21+ and new players only. Full terms available from Yahoo DFS.

TVG

$200

Get Your First Single-Horse Win Wager Back Up to $200 if you don't win

Register for a new TVG account and make a deposit

Place your first single horse win-type bet up to $200

If your horse doesn't win you'll get a refund up to $300

21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.

TwinSpires

$200

Get a $200 Sign-Up Bonus with Twinspires Racebook!

Open your TwinSpires.com account using offer code BET200

$200 bonus cash will be credited in increments of $100 for every $400 wagered

To earn the full $200 bonus players must wager $800 within 30 days

21+. Terms and conditions apply.