The surprising Washington Football Team is on a three-game winning streak and tied with the New York Giants atop the NFC East, but Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers at a neutral site in Arizona could be a bit of a trap for Coach Ron Rivera's club. That's because Washington comes off a shocking Monday night upset at unbeaten Pittsburgh and will most likely be without terrific rookie running back Antonio Gibson. The 49ers are 3-point favorites on the William Hill Sportsbook NFL odds.
That Washington beat the Steelers was even more shocking considering Gibson left after just two carries with a toe injury. When shown on TV, it was clear that Gibson was in quite a bit of pain, and the NFL Network is reporting that the injury is turf toe and that Gibson is unlikely for Week 14 (not good for those with Gibson on their Fantasy rosters and with playoffs beginning this week). The short week obviously doesn't help matters.
Gibson, a third-round pick out of Memphis who largely played receiver in college, has rushed for 659 yards and 11 touchdowns on 141 carries with 32 catches for 233 yards. The 11 rushing scores lead all rookies and are tied for third in the NFL. Gibson, who had scored in five straight games before Monday, may get a few NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year votes, but Chargers QB Justin Herbert will win that. Washington QB Alex Smith is a lock to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
There's no doubt that Gibson's recent surge has hugely improved the Washington offense. In the team's first eight games, the offense was 30th in both points and yards. Since then, it is seventh in points and 10th in yards. Peyton Barber should take over Sunday as the early-down back and J.D. McKissic on passing downs -- see above Tweet from SportsLine Fantasy expert Jacob Gibbs.
While Washington is tied with the Giants atop the NFC East at 5-7, the Giants are -150 favorites at William Hill to win the division and Washington +155 because New York swept the season series (by a combined four points).
It's the second straight game for the 49ers in Arizona because they can't play or practice in California due to the state's COVID-19 protocols. The Niners are also on a short week after being dominated Monday night at State Farm Stadium by Buffalo.
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in Washington from 2010-13. Of course, Washington's Smith was the No. 1 overall pick by the 49ers in 2005 (the Aaron Rodgers draft). Since San Francisco moved on from Smith following the 2012 season, Smith has won 66 percent of his starts and covered in 60 percent of them. His 10-4 ATS record is the best in the NFL since 2018 (minimum of 10 starts).
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