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Eagles-Seahawks: Road gets steeper

Posted by Eric Fisher On November 29

The Eagles are supposed to be taking their season one game at a time, but we can be excused for combining the next two games.

The Eagles are facing their toughest stretch this season, with consecutive road games against the Seahawks and Rams. In addition to their importance in the battle for homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, these games will be important for the Eagles’ psyche as they prepare for the playoffs. A team doesn’t want to enter the playoffs with any lingering doubts about their ability to beat good teams.

There are challenges on both sides of the ball for Sunday’s game (8:30 p.m.) at Seattle. The defense must concentrate on slowing down quarterback Russell Wilson and tight end Jimmy Graham. Without much of a rushing attack to worry about, the Eagles defense should be able to contain the Seahawks offense.

The other challenge will be for the Eagles’ high-powered offense. Can the Eagles score at least 30 points for the sixth straight game? If they can, they should set a franchise record with their 10th straight win.

Here are 10 questions to consider prior to Sunday’s game (8:30 p.m.) between the Eagles and Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

Why does this game matter to the Eagles?

A victory would clinch the NFC East title. It also would keep the Eagles ahead of the Vikings in the battle for homefield advantage throughout  the NFC playoffs – even if the Vikings beat the Falcons in Atlanta. Perhaps most importantly, a road win in Seattle, a notoriously difficult to play, should be a psychological boost and further bolster the Eagles’ confidence.

Aside from winning in Seattle, why would Sunday’s game be a psychological boost?

The Eagles are 10-1, but only two of those games – both on the road – have come against teams currently with winning records. The Eagles lost to the Chiefs in their second game of the year and then beat the Panthers on Oct. 12. The Eagles’ home wins have been against an unimpressive slate that includes the Giants, Cardinals, Redskins, 49ers, Broncos and Bears. Losses against the Seahawks and Rams in the next two games would support claims that the Eagles’ excellent record is the product of an easy schedule, and that they have difficulty beating good teams.

Why is the game important for the Seahawks?

The Seahawks (7-4) are on the outside of the NFC playoff picture right now. They have to gain ground while the AFC South teams (Saints, Falcons and Panthers) beat each other up. The Falcons and Saints have two games remaining against one another. If the Seahawks beat the Eagles, they could move into playoff position. A win also opens the door to a double-digit victory season and keeps their hopes alive for catching the first-place Rams in the NFC West. (The Seahawks will host the Rams on Dec. 17.)

Which team has the better quarterback?

This isn’t as easy a choice as it is for most Eagles games. Russell Wilson has won a Super Bowl and somehow continues to succeed despite playing behind a mediocre offensive line and the absence of a running game to keep opposing defenses honest. Wilson (65 carries for 401 yards) is the Seahawks’ leading rusher. He also has completed 256 of 411 passes for 3,029 yards and 23 touchdowns. As good as Wilson has been this season, Carson Wentz has been better. He has 28 touchdown and just five interceptions (Wilson has three). Wentz has been the best quarterback in the NFL on third down and in the red zone.

Who is the Seahawks’ biggest receiving threat?

The Seahawks have finally figured out how to effectively use tight end Jimmy Graham, who has 49 receptions and eight touchdowns this season.

How will Carson Wentz fare against the Legion of Boom?

Injuries to cornerback Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor have reduced the Legion of Boom to the Legion of Bo. Safety Early Thomas is the only healthy remaining member of the original Legion of Boom.

Wait a second. Number 41 looks familiar. Who is he?

Number 41 is none other than cornerback Byron Maxwell, who returned to Seattle two weeks ago after being a bust with the Eagles and Dolphins. Although listed as a backup, Eagles fans would love to see Maxwell get burned by the Eagles this Sunday. And while we’re checking out familiar faces, No. 97 is former Eagles first-round draft pick Marcus Smith.

Is the defense backfield still the strength of the Seahawks defense?

Maybe not. The linebacker corps, led by Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, may be the strongest part of what is still a solid defense. It will be interesting to see how successful the Eagles’ running game, which has been piling up yards in recent weeks, will be against the Seahawks defense.

Will the Eagles have another 100-yard receiver?

Let’s not get carried away. It was nice to see tight end Zach Ertz catch 10 passes for 103 yards against the Bears, becoming the first Eagles receiver this season to reach the century mark this season, but don’t expect the Eagles to have a 100-yard receiver every week..

Aside from Jimmy Graham, do the Seahawks have a dangerous weapon?

They do if we include special teams. Tyler Lockett is a dangerous kick returner. He also returns punts.

Prediction: This should be the Eagles’ most difficult challenge since they defeated the Panthers on the road on Oct. 12. Even without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, the Seahawks still have a darn good defense. The Eagles’ streak of scoring at least 30 points might end at five games, but they could still prevail. The Seahawks may score a special teams touchdown, but the Eagles defense keeps the score relatively low. Prediction: Eagles 24, Seahawks 20.

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2 Responses

  1. Matt Rosenbaum Says:

    Seattle needs this game and Eagles could be overconfident but simply based on the talent level they have somehow reached, they could eek out a win and your score prediction seems like a good one.

    Posted on December 1st, 2017 at 12:39 am

  2. Eric Fisher Says:

    Thanks, Matt. The Eagles could blow the Seahawks out — it’s unlikely to happen the other way — but a close game could go either way. I still like the Eagles, with the possibility of a loss next week against the Rams.

    Posted on December 1st, 2017 at 3:51 pm

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