In some respects, the last few Philadelphia Eagles games have been kind of, well ... boring.
The Eagles have been decimating their opponents. Three straight wins by 28 points. Four straight with a victory margin of at least 23.
You have to go all the way back to October 12 to find the Eagles’ last game that ended with a one-possesion margin of victory. And the Eagles’ win over the Panthers in that contest wouldn’t have been as close if Pete Morrelli’s terrible, one-sided officiating wasn’t a factor.
What I’m saying here is: tonight’s game projects to be the most exciting Eagles matchup in quite some time.
The Seahawks are tough. Losing Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman the season sure hurts them, no doubt about it. But it’s not like they’re suddenly an awful team. They’re 7-4. They rank eighth in point differential. They rank 11th overall in DVOA. This is still a good team.
And despite losing their last two games at CenturyLink Field, Seattle is still a tough place to play. By now, you’re probably sick of me pointing out the Seahawks are 42-8 in their last 50 home games. But it’s true, and that’s very good. The Eagles have their work cut out for him.
While Philadelphia has every reason to respect their Week 13 opponent, they should not fear them. The Eagles are the team to be feared. They have potential league MVP Carson Wentz. They have a lot of different offensive pieces to work with.
The Eagles could really use a big performance from Wentz tonight. Seattle is pretty stout against the run; the Seahawks ninth in yards per rush attempt allowed. It’s worth seeing if LeGarrette Blount and/or Jay Ajayi and/or Corey Clement can get going. If they can’t, it’s up to No. 11 to move the ball.
With the aforementioned Sherman out, the Eagles should be looking to get their wide receivers more involved than they usually would. Test rookie corner Shaquill Griffin. And don’t be afraid to go after Jeremy Lane, who isn’t having the greatest season. Make Alshon Jeffery really earn that money he just received in his new contract extension.
On defense, Russell Wilson will be a tough challenge for the Eagles. This is a unique matchup for Philly’s defense. Usually the Eagles try to stop the run and force their opponent to be a one-dimensional passing team. The problem with that strategy is that the Seahawks are already bad at running the ball so they have to rely on passing anyway, and it’s worked for them. Seattle ranks seventh in passing yards per game.
And even though the Seahawks don’t have very good running backs, Wilson is more than capable of making plays with his legs. He can either run it himself or use his mobility to buy time to make plays with his arm.
The Eagles should be able to get after Wilson. The Seahawks’ offensive line, which ranks 28th in run blocking and 18th in adjusted sack rate by Football Outsiders, is not good. Philadelphia’s defensive line, meanwhile, is very good. They’ll be able to force Wilson out of the pocket. From there, it’s just about being able to contain him and finish the play.
Again, this is a tough game for the Eagles. But that’s a good thing. They’re not going to be facing a lot of cupcakes (if any) in the 2018 NFL playoffs. It doesn’t hurt for them to get battle tested by facing a Seahawks squad that’s fighting for their playoff chances. If the season ended today, Seattle wouldn’t be in the NFC playoff picture.
The Eagles also still have a lot to play for as well. Winning tonight’s game would mean OFFICIALLY clinching the NFC East. It’d also put Philly one step closer to clinching the No. 1 overall seed, which would guarantee them home field throughout the playoffs.
The Eagles are a good team. They can absolutely beat the Seahawks. Now it’s just about doing it.
Score prediction: Eagles win, 24-20
Bold prediction: Alshon Jeffery scores two touchdowns
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