Well, here we are, Twelves.
Our beloved 2019 Seattle Seahawks went 11-5 and are back in the playoffs, playing on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles, who they beat on the road back in November, 17-9. Some things have changed between these two clubs, and some has stayed the same.
The Eagles were a struggling club when they first met, and yet they finished December strong, going 4-1. The Seahawks, on the other hand, were flying high through the first three months of the season only to uncharacteristically struggle through the final month, finishing 2-3. A fair amount is being made about this, but it should be noted that the Eagles played an easy December schedule, while Seattle played one of the league’s hardest December calendars.
Something that is similar to their last match up is that Philadelphia is still severely banged up at receiver and offensive line. This will help Seattle in it’s pursuit to win this game on the road. They will need this, as their defense has lost a couple key players, and has struggled throughout the season.
A few things different in this rematch is that Seattle will play without left tackle Duane Brown, running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, and linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Seattle will also be possibly playing without guard Mike Iupati. This will all definitely help the Eagles.
What to expect when Seattle has the ball
Seattle will try to establish the run with Marshawn Lynch and Travis Homer, and they will be doing it against one of the better run defenses in the league. The foundation of Seattle’s offense is still the run game. They won’t abandon it. When this happens, though, is another matter.
Where the Eagles seem to be hampered defensively is at corner. Thus, I expect Seattle to challenge them more than in the last meeting. Tyler Lockett is healthier now than when he was in the previous match, and DK Metcalf is coming off a strong game against the San Francisco 49ers (who have significantly better corners than Philly). I suspect that the quick passing game that was effective during the second half of the 49ers game last Sunday will be used against these Eagles.
The strength of the Eagle D is their defensive line. They will be keyed to take away Seattle’s run game and pressure Russell Wilson. By attacking the perimeters with quick passes is a way for Seattle to soften their front up to keep the run game effective. If Seattle has success at this, and they are able to get their run game going, and they are able to go into halftime with a lead, I would expect them to take their signature deep shots in the second half.
This could be a rare game where Seattle passes to set up the run, like they did in Pittsburgh earlier in the season. Travis Homer could have a big game catching passes out of the backfield and running.
What to expect when the Eagles have the ball
Philly head coach Doug Pederson has already said that they will go up tempo to help Carson Wentz establish the pass game. Honestly, this is a smart way to attack Seattle’s defense. Both the Rams and the Cardinals had a lot of success against Seattle going up tempo in December, and they were able to take advantage of Seattle’s inexperience at certain spots and age at others. The difference though between these Eagles and those Rams and Cardinals is that they simply do not have the pass catching threats at receiver that those other teams have, and this will give the Seattle defense a decent puncher’s chance.
Also in Seattle’s favor is having free safety Quandre Diggs back on the defense. When Diggs has started, Seattle’s defense has played significantly better, and his play has given other Seattle defenders considerably more confidence. Another thing in Seattle’s favor is having defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney in this game, who didn’t play in the previous match.
Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if they Eagles have early success against this Seattle defense. Wentz has been playing really well in December, and Seattle will be without linebacker Mychal Kendricks. I would look for Philly to take advantage of rookie linebacker Cody Barton, who has struggled to take proper angles as a starter in place of Kendricks.
Also, Seattle has yet to show that they can consistently defend jet sweeps and miss direction plays. The Rams, Panthers, Cardinals, and 49ers all had success against Seattle running these plays in December.
However, if the second half of the 49er game last Sunday is any indication, I would expect Seattle to adjust as the game wears on, and if Seattle has a halftime lead, the Eagles may have to abandon that plan. With their lack of talent at receiver, Seattle’s pass rush might get more active with the addition of Clowney. Philadelphia probably does not want to go into halftime with a point deficit.
Key players for Seattle
Russell Wilson, receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, and running back Travis Homer in the quick passing game.
Jadeveon Clowney, and Seattle’s entire secondary on the defense putting pressure on Wentz, and taking advantage of the lack of Philly’s receiver talent.
Key Players for the Eagles
Carson Wentz, running back Miles Sanders, receiver Greg Ward, and tight end Dallas Goedart all playing in an up tempo offense taking advantage of Seattle’s perimeters and linebackers with sweeps and miss direction play actions.
Defensive linemen Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Timmy Jernigan taking advantage that Seattle will be playing without Duane Brown, and possibly without Mike Iupati on the offensive line, and Seattle will be thin at running back.
I think Seattle finds a way to come out of Philadelphia with a win. The Eagles will not make it easy for them, and I think we could see a higher scoring game than the last match. Like many of Seattle’s games this year, it will probably come down to a single score final.
I’m predicting Seattle will win 24-19. It’s an odd score, but I see Philly needing to go for a two point conversion that fails late in the game, then failing to capture the onside kick, and Seattle runs out the clock with some crucial Marshawn Lynch carries against a tired Philly front seven.
At least, that’s how I see it.