Washington could wrap up NFC East, but Panthers looking to play spoiler

Panthers (4-10) at Washington (6-8)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET | CBS

Matchup rating: 35.1 | Spread: WSH -2.5 (44.5)

What to watch for: Both teams have played a lot of close games. In fact, Carolina has lost eight games by eight points or fewer while Washington's last four losses have been by five points or fewer. How these teams handle the fourth quarter will be telling. Washington has made a habit of coming back in games, having fallen behind by double digits 10 times this season. The past five times, it has rallied and had the ball at the end with a chance to win; it has completed one comeback. Dwayne Haskins, who was fined for being at an event with strippers while not wearing a mask, could start at quarterback for Washington with Alex Smith still ailing. -- John Keim

Bold prediction: Washington, ranked sixth in the NFL in sacks with 40, will sack Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater eight times with a multitude of blitz packages coach Ron Rivera used as the coach of the Panthers from 2011 to 2019. One will result in a strip-sack returned for a touchdown. -- David Newton

Stat to know: Washington is 4-1 with Smith as the starting quarterback, even though he has posted a 35.5 Total QBR, worst among 41 players with 100 passes this season. Smith has averaged a league-low 5.4 air yards per attempt.

Playoff/draft picture: Washington will clinch the NFC East with a win and a Giants loss. FPI projects the Panthers to pick No. 5 overall in next year's draft, and it gives them a 46.4% chance of picking in the top five.

Injuries: Panthers | Washington

What to know for fantasy: Washington tight end Logan Thomas has gone over 10 fantasy points in each of his past four games and over 23 points in two of his past three (13 catches for 101 yards last week against the Seahawks). See Week 16 rankings.

Betting nugget: Washington has covered five straight games, going 4-1 to the under in that span. Read more.

Newton's pick: Washington 14, Panthers 7

Keim's pick: Washington 20, Panthers 17

FPI prediction: WSH, 52.0% (by an average of 0.7 points)

Matchup must-reads: Why Panthers decided to move on from GM Marty Hurney ... Washington Football Team aware of Dwayne Haskins' maskless images; QB apologizes ... Drafting franchise QB more likely with Panthers' front-office makeover ... How Washington finds itself on cusp of NFC East title after 2-7 start ... Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera focused on win vs. Carolina Panthers, not revenge