On 4:25 PM this Sunday, the Eagles will face-off against the 6-2-1 Seahawks, in what should be a very competitive game. The Eagles are looking to go on their second winning streak of the season, while Seattle’s looking to continue their hot start at home.
This year, Seattle’s undefeated at home (4-0), while the Eagles are looking to improve upon their poor record this year away from home (1-4). This will be the 15th match-up all-time between these two teams, and the third since 2010. The all-time series record is tied 7-7. Philadelphia’s last road win at Seattle occurred almost exactly eight-years ago, on November 2nd, 2008 (they won 26-7).
Leading back to last season, Seattle’s 8-1 in their last nine home games. From last season to this season so far, the Eagles are 5-8 on the road. During last season’s playoffs, Seattle beat Minnesota 10-9 in the wild-card round, then lost to number-one seed Carolina 31-24 in the divisional round. Not only did Philadelphia miss the playoffs last season, but they haven’t won a playoff game since January 11th of 2009.
For Philadelphia, Sunday’s match-up will be a tough test for sure.
Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson grew up in Washington; in Ferndale, which is two hours away from Seattle. He mentioned that he was a Seahawks’ fan growing up.
In a conference call on Wednesday, he recalled his fond Seahawks’ memories when he was a child, going to games at the old Kingdome and watching ’70s Seahawks’ quarterback Jim Zorn play. In this game, Pederson’s a huge underdog, having only coached since this year, while Seattle’s head coach Pete Carroll started coaching in 1994.
Seattle’s defense is, and has been, one of the best in the league. This season, their unit ranks as one of the best vs. the pass, ranking seventh best in worst quarterback passer rating against (82.5), fourth in sacks (29), and second best in fewest rushing yards per attempt (3.5). They not only bring speed and size, but experience, too. Last season, five out of their seven Pro Bowlers were defenders. The five of them were: right defensive end Michael Bennett, strong safety Kam Chancellor, corner Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas, and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. In February of 2014, almost their entire defensive unit propelled them to a 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII win over Denver; the first win in franchise history.
For this game, what’s exciting for the Eagles is their recent defensive play. Seattle half-back Christine Michael will have a tough time vs. the Eagles’ rushing attack. Last week vs. Matt Ryan and the Falcons, weak-side linebacker Mychal Kendricks fared great. Kendricks had one run stop, a hurry, and only allowed one catch for five yards receiving.
Wilson will have to go up against a tough Eagles’ front four. After they switched to a 4-3 scheme this past off-season, they’ve been blitzing a lot more. This season, Wilson has a 99.4 QBR, eighth best in the league, with eight yards per attempt (fifth best in the league), and a 66.8 completion percentage. He’s been very smart in not forcing throws, whether under pressure or in double coverage. In his first and only game vs. the Eagles so far, (on December 7th, 2014) he won 24-14 at the Linc.
It may sound cliche to pick both quarterbacks as the x-factors, since they’re the most important players on the field, but with both defenses playing solid this year, there’s even more emphasis put upon the quarterback’s in-game decisions.
In his first three games, Carson Wentz not only went undefeated but had a 103.8 passer rating and zero turnovers. Since then, he’s gone 2-4 with more interceptions than touchdown passes (5-4) and a 79.7 passer rating; almost a 25% decrease in passer rating. He’s overthrown/sailed throws, thrown behind receivers, and has forced throws into double coverage; all expected rookie mistakes. Considering he has zero experience, he’s playing better than expected; with a respectable 87.6 passer rating and five wins.
Doug Baldwin vs. Nolan Carroll (Baldwin has five touchdowns; Carroll was solid vs. NY)
Fletcher Cox vs. Germain Ifedi (Ifedi’s a rookie tackle, while Cox had 9.5 sacks last year)
Seattle’s currently 6.5 point favorites. The over/under’s listed as 43.
Player of the Game Prediction
Bobby Wagner, MLB, Seattle
Wagner will have a tough task in trying to contain Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Despite a couple poor outings earlier in the season, last week Mathews ran through the Falcons’ front four, scoring two touchdowns and rushing for 103 yards. Meanwhile, backup half-back Darren Sproles surprisingly almost played 40% of the snaps last Sunday and had 76 all-purpose yards.
Three-weeks ago, in a week-eight match-up at New Orleans (on October 30th), Wagner was a huge factor and contributed significantly, despite Seattle’s 25-20 loss. Wagner chipped in with 12 solo tackles, 14 total tackles and seven run stops.
So far this year, Wagner has had 15 quarterback hurries and 36 stops at either the line of scrimmage or behind it. If Wagner continues his consistent play and aggressive run stopping, it’ll be a long day for Mathews.
After going 3-0 and putting together several excellent outings to start his career, Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz has struggled the past-few weeks. Last week vs. Atlanta, he played good, with a 86.5 quarterback rating and a 92.3 completion percentage throwing outside the numbers, despite having some clock management problems before the half. When under pressure, he went 5-9, with 4.9 yards per attempt and a 68.7 passer rating. He’s still learning and growing from his rookie mistakes, so — for a rookie — learning to adjust vs. pressure is a tough task.
Surely, Jim Schwartz and the Eagles’ front four will bring as much pressure as possible, but Russell Wilson will be prepared for it. Not only is he intelligent and fast outside the pocket, but last week at New England, he was very solid under pressure. In 18 drop-backs, he went 10/14 with 143 passing yards, 10.2 yards per attempt, two touchdowns and a 143.7 passer rating.
Entering this season, Pro Football Focus ranked all NFL offensive lines from best to worst. Seattle’s was ranked dead last, while Philadelphia’s defensive line was ranked 21st. While Seattle’s offensive line has struggled and forced Wilson to carry it more, Philadelphia’s defensive line started out shaky then has gotten better and better each week. Philadelphia’s best shot at winning will be their d-line knocking down offensive lineman, putting continuous pressure on Wilson, and making him force throws.