By Kevin McGuire
After building a 10-1 record through their first 11 games, the Philadelphia Eagles set their sights west to take on two of the top teams in the NFC West Division in a West Coast swing. First up is Seattle, with the Seahawks taking on the unfamiliar role of being a sizable underdog at home for Sunday night’s game. The Eagles would be wise not to take the Seahawks lightly, of course, as playing in Seattle is an environment that should pose a new challenge for the Eagles. Could we see some adversity face the Eagles this weekend?
Here’s a brief rundown of this week’s opponent, the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks are 7-4 as a bit of a roller coaster ride has been going on since a bye week in Week 6. Seattle improved to 7-4 with a road win against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday to bounce back from a loss the previous week at home against the Atlanta Falcons. Seattle has alternated wins and losses the past four weeks. If that trend continues this weekend, then the Eagles will improve to 11-1.
Seattle has a three-game winning streak in the series with the Eagles, with double-digit wins in 2011, 2014, and 2016. Seattle beat the Eagles on the west coast, 26-15, last November. The Eagles have lost five of the last six meetings with Seattle dating back to 2005.
Seahawks on Offense
The Eagles defense has been playing at a high level, but they will be put to the test this week against Russell Wilson’s ability to extend plays and create something out of nothing. Wilson has already passed for 3,029 yards and 23 touchdowns this season, and he is the leading rusher for Seattle with 401 yards and three touchdowns. It will be up to the Eagles defense to prevent Wilson from running around to keep plays alive for too long on a regular occasion. Otherwise, Wilson will hurt the Eagles defense in key moments.
Seattle has the NFL’s 10th-leading scoring offense and the seventh-ranked passing offense. Running the ball has not typically been effective this season with just 102.9 rushing yards per game (20th in the NFL).
Seahawks on Defense
The Seahawks have taken their hits on defense this season. Richard Sherman was lost for the year to an Achilles tendon injury a few weeks ago and Kam Chancellor is not expected to return this season due to a neck injury. Those losses alone have been critical blows to the Seattle defense, and an offense like the Eagles should capitalize on them. Although the Seahawks still take some pride in their ability to defend against the pass, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan passed for two touchdowns and 195 yards without an interception to help the Falcons leave Seattle with a 34-31 victory. Carson Wentz won’t need a huge day through the air, but an efficient one as he has been known to do this season.
Seahawks Players to Watch
Doug Baldwin, Wide Receiver: The leading receiver for Seattle has had a couple of quiet weeks with four receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown combined in his last two games. If the Seahawks are going to make some plays happen, Baldwin will have to be a receiver making big catches for them.
Michael Bennett, Defensive End: The Eagles’ offensive line has played well, even in the absence of an injured Jason Peters, but Michael Bennett will present some reasons to be concerned this week. Look for Bennett to be active on the edge as Seattle tries to penetrate the line of scrimmage and get their hands on Carson Wentz.
The oddsmakers may have the Eagles as a decisive favorite on the road for Sunday night, but the Seahawks should be as competitive as any team that has played the Eagles this season. Playing on the road in Seattle against a team that has won and experienced high-level play in recent years presents a challenge for the Eagles to once again prove they are ready to compete with the best the NFC has to offer. Seattle will be the best team the Eagles have faced from the NFC this season, other than the Carolina Panthers. Seattle will make Philadelphia play hard to get the win, but the Eagles look confident and ready for the challenge. This should be a fun one on Sunday night.