The Philadelphia Eagles are flying high at 10 -1, so it won’t be easy for the Seahawks to bring them down to earth. But they can, and here’s how.
The Eagles are winning – make that dominating – with a stingy defense, a punishing ground game, and a heady, efficient quarterback who can make spectacular plays when needed. Sounds familiar, right? This is the Seahawks modus operandi under Pete Carroll. It hasn’t been quite the same this year due to far too many injuries. Regardless, you play with who you’ve got. And I think Seattle has enough to beat their doppelganger from the east.
Ordinarily you look at the teams that gave your opponent a hard time, hopefully even beat them. Only one team has pulled that off this season. The Kansas City Chiefs did manage to put the Eagles down 27 -20 in the season’s second game, but I don’t think there’s too much to be learned from that contest. Kansas City limited the Eagles running backs to just 52 yards on 13 attempts.
That was due in part to the Chiefs getting a lead in the fourth quarter, but the fact remains the Eagles only called their running backs’ numbers five times in the entire second half. The last time Carson Wentz handed off the ball was to Wendell Smallwood with 10:09 left in the fourth quarter. At that point the score was tied, 13 all. Then it became Carson Wentz or nothing.
The Seahawks will face a much different backfield this Sunday
Darren Sproles was the leading back for the Eagles that day. He’s on injured reserve. LeGarrette Blount was in the game, but never touched the ball other than on one pass reception. Since then Blount has gotten seven starts and piled up 658 yards on the ground. Jay Ajayi was added to the mix through a trade with the Dolphins a month ago. All he’s done is added 194 yards in spot duty. That’s right, he’s averaging almost 65 yards per game, and he’s not even starting. Oh, let’s not forget rookie Corey Clement. He doesn’t have any starts either, but he’s averaging 4.5 yards per carry and actually leads the Eagles with four rushing touchdowns. So the Seahawks will face a much more diverse and dangerous ground game than the Chiefs did back in September.
Seahawks don’t have to run much, just control the run
So the Eagles aren’t about to abandon the run Sunday night like they did months ago in their only loss. They’ll just keep on putting in a fresh set of legs and pound the ball all night. Well, that’s the plan, much as the Seahawks planned for this season. We all know how that turned out.
Happily, Seattle will have plenty to say about this running game. While the Eagles are just about the toughest run defense in the league (first in yards allowed, fourth in average yards), the Seahawks aren’t exactly slouches, either (ninth in yards allowed and average yards). As our own Steve McGrain wrote earlier, the game will be won at the line of scrimmage. As Steve says – nah, go read his article, he says it better than I do. I’ll wait. I will say if Seattle can limit Blount, Ajayi and Clement to less than 130 yards, they’ll be in good shape. Richardson, Bennett, Wagner and their playmates are more than up to the task.