Earlier in the week, I got more into why this game with Philly is important. Today, I’ll be looking at what we’ve got to do to beat them.
For starters, while Philly is a team you definitely want to take seriously, it’s not a team you necessarily want to mythologize. Their most impressive victory is probably the week 2 barn burner on Monday night in Indianapolis. They don’t really have any bad losses on their record (at SF, at AZ, at GB), but aside from that win in Indy and the drubbing they laid down in Dallas on Thanksgiving, I don’t see a lot of meat on their schedule.
They got the AFC South, which aside from the Colts is pretty terrible. The Redskins and Giants are God-awful. But, then again, the Seahawks catch their share of dogs as well. Against common opponents, the Eagles are 5-3 while the Seahawks are 6-2. Against teams with winning records, the Eagles are 2-3 while the Seahawks are 4-3. So, there’s a BIT of a discrepancy there, but it’s hardly an overwhelming argument in our favor. Yeah, the Seahawks have had a slightly tougher schedule, and yeah, the Seahawks are slightly better. But, all in all, that doesn’t mean a whole lot come Sunday afternoon.
The Eagles have a lot of really good players, a smart head coach, and a dynamic offensive system. The Seahawks have a lot of really good players, a smart head coach, and a dynamic defense. SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE and whatnot.
The Eagles are 6th in total rushing yards. They’re only 12th in yards per attempt (at 4.2), but they’re tied for 5th in attempts. The Eagles are almost always in a hurry-up mode and are among the league leaders in total plays run. Their offensive line is impressive, having only given up 18 sacks (5th fewest in football). Overall, their offense is something to behold.
Then, of course, there’s the Mark Sanchez thing. He took over in their Week 9 game and has led the team to a 4-1 record. He’s averaging 280.8 yards in his 4+ games this year, with a 63.4 completion percentage. You could argue his weakness is what his weakness has been all along: turnovers. He’s got 8 TDs and 6 INTs and another 2 fumbles. You hate to boil a game down to who wins the turnover battle, but it would be a big help. Of course, it won’t be everything, because their offense is so potent, it could and HAS overcome such troubles.
Aside from the quarterback, the Seahawks will have to watch out for LeSean McCoy. From a fantasy football perspective, he’s having a down year. Darren Sproles is cutting into both his touchdowns and his targets in the passing game. But, he’s still a Top 5 runner in this league and someone to take seriously. The aforementioned Sproles is another dangerous weapon; we’re all familiar with him from New Orleans last year. I don’t really remember him gashing us too much, as we’ve got speedy linebackers who are able to neutralize him, but if we put all of our focus on McCoy, Sproles is a guy who could burn us.
At wide receiver, it doesn’t get any easier. Jeremy Maclin is a straight up stud. He’s actually my worst nightmare in this game, if I’m being honest. These speedy receivers tend to give us fits. On the plus side, Mark Sanchez isn’t Andrew Luck. By all accounts, Sanchez isn’t a guy who’s going to challenge you deep very often. However, it only takes one sometimes. I could see Maclin having a nothing day, or a huge day, and pretty much nothing in between. Jordan Matthews is a really good-looking rookie, but at 6’3 and without the speed of Maclin, I see him being pretty easily handled.
Defensively, the Eagles are aggressive. They’re among the league leaders in getting after the quarterback, so it’s going to be important for our O-Line to handle they business. You can run on the Eagles, and lord knows the Seahawks can run the football, so we could be looking at Marshawn Lynch being a big part of this game.
And, you know what? Quite frankly, this could be Russell Wilson’s time to really shine. I could seriously see the Eagles going all out to stop Beastmode, forcing Wilson to scramble around and find open receivers. If the Eagles are able to put up points on us, I wouldn’t be shocked in the slightest to see Wilson throw for over 300 yards with 3 or 4 TDs.
My main concern with this game is getting off to a slow start. The NFL graced us with an afternoon kickoff, even though it’s being played in the Eastern time zone, but that doesn’t necessarily preclude us from starting slowly. We haven’t played the Eagles in quite some time. 2011, in fact. Remember? When Tarvaris Jackson was quarterback for the Seahawks, Andy Reid was coach of the Eagles, and one Vince Young was starting in place of Mike Vick.
Yeah, suffice it to say, these are a couple of VERY different teams. I could easily see this as a game where the Seahawks’ offense struggles early, the Seahawks’ defense lets them dink and dunk their way down the field, and we’re unable to hold them to field goals when we need to. In many ways, I find this game resembling the Atlanta game from the playoffs a couple years ago. I could see the Eagles getting a 3-touchdown lead on us, with us playing catch-up in the second half.
I know our defense has been playing lights out of late, but the offenses of the Cardinals and 49ers are pretty pathetic. If nothing else, don’t count on the Eagles being held to 3 points. Promisingly, their defense isn’t that of the Cardinals and 49ers either, so figure the Seahawks are good for more than 19.
Or, shit, let’s just have the Seahawks keep winning games 19-3 every week for the rest of time. Sounds good to me.