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Both the Seattle Seahawks and the Philadelphia Eagles enter a primetime game on Sunday night in unfamiliar positions. Seattle has won four straight road games, but has lost two straight home games. They have never lost three straight at home under Pete Carroll, and it has only happened twice in the 16 years CenturyLink Field has been open, with 2008 being the last occurrence. The Seahawks have lost two straight home games three times under Carroll, and have won the next home game each time by an average of thirteen points. Seattle is also a 5.5 or 6 point underdog. The last two times the Seahawks were underdogs by that large of a margin in a regular season game was at New England last season (+7.5) and at Arizona during the 2015 season (+6.5). The Seahawks won both games. The last time they were a home underdog by this large of a margin was in 2011 versus Baltimore. They won that game as well. The largest spread against the Seahawks at home during the Carroll era was in 2010 versus the Saints in the playoffs. Seattle won that game, too.

Philadelphia is on unfamiliar ground as well. They have not played a winning team in five weeks. This will be just their second game against a team with a winning record, as they have faced the easiest schedule in the NFL by winning percentage thus far. They are 1-1 in those games. They have the best record in the NFL. The last time they accomplished that feat for a full season was 1980. Their quarterback, Carson Wentz, is a favorite to win the MVP. The franchise has had only one MVP in 85 seasons, and that was Norm Van Brocklin in 1960.

The Eagles have one of the best offenses in the NFL and one of the best defenses. They run the ball better than anyone, and are lethal through the air. Their defense is fast and aggressive at every level, and can absolutely dominate opponents rushing attacks or make big plays in the passing game. They are legitimately the best team in the NFL through eleven games, and are almost certain to earn the top seed in the NFC.

They are also going to lose this game. Wounded and inconsistent, the Seahawks limp into this game without many of their best players and with plenty of doubts about their offense. Go off and look for quantifiable evidence that Seattle is the better team of these two, and you will come up empty. Philadelphia should be favored, and they should win. They won’t. The reasons why cannot be measured. Perhaps, their best evidence come from the numbers shared earlier about what happens when the Seahawks are counted out. They don’t just cover the point spread in those moments. They win. Seattle has their own MVP candidate in Russell Wilson, and his best comes when hope has dwindled. This Seahawks team will enter a primetime home game free of expectations. Free of that weight, they will rise.

The way this works: Each offense will be pitted against the opposing defense and compared on an array of key statistical attributes based on their respective rank in the NFL. The tables that follow show the rank of each unit for each of these categories. 

This series is sponsored by Sarah Heath, a huge Seahawks fan and Hawk Blogger patron. Please thank her by checking out her site and consider working with her on your next home purchase or sale in the Seattle area. She will donate an additional $500 to Ben’s Fund for every closed transaction!

Seahawks Offense vs Eagles Defense

Eagles key advantages on defense

 

The Eagles defensive line is monstrous. Led by Fletcher Cox inside and Brandon Graham outside, they can create pass pressure, but it is their strength against the run that really stands out. Just two teams have managed to run for over 100 yards against the Eagles this season, and none for more than 112 yards. They have a massive advantage their against a Seahawks line that has yet to demonstrate they can create any consistent push in the run game.

An effective run game, however, has not been a reliable indicator of Seattle success this season. They are 3-2 when rushing for over 100 yards, having lost their last two such games, and 4-2 when rushing for less than 100 yards. Their season low for rushing yards was 33 against Houston, and the Seahawks scored 41 points that game. Few teams will be better aquatinted with an ineffective rushing attack than the Seahawks.

Philadelphia also excels at limiting explosive passes. Wilson loves the deep ball and throws one of the best in football, but will have to make wise decisions about when to test this play-making secondary that loves to take the football away. The Eagles have at least two interceptions in four straight games, and at least one interception in six straight games. Wilson has thrown two of his worst interceptions the last two games early in the contests. Those kinds of mistakes must be eliminated.

 

Seahawks key advantages on offense

 

There are not many. Seattle’s biggest advantage may be the unknowns they can throw the Eagles way. Luke Joeckel and Duane Brown have played exactly one game together on the offensive line. Seattle gave up no sacks in that game for the first time in two years, and had the third-best pass protection of any line in the NFL last week according to ProFootballFocus. The Eagles have not faced a line that can protect the passer as well as Seattle’s since playing in Kansas City in week two. That line helped clear the path to a season-high 27 points against the Eagles defense.

Mike Davis is also expected to play, and gave the offense a significant boost against the Falcons before leaving with an injury. There is little tape on how Seattle plans to use him. What tape does exist shows the Seahawks utilizing him very differently than their other primary runners like Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls. Davis was great on screen passes out of the backfield.

Wilson is at his best when he is properly judging risk and reward in his passes. He has helped Seattle to be one of the best in league at protecting the football over the past few seasons. Only one team has gone a whole game without turning the ball over against the Eagles this season. That was the Chiefs, the Eagles only loss. Wilson is more than capable of making this the second on both counts.

 

Eagles Offense vs Seahawks Defense

 

Eagles key advantages on offense

 

Wentz has been terrific through the air this season, especially near the opponents end zone. He has thrown 20 touchdowns without an interception in the red zone this season for a passer rating of 118.1. That is his best of any part of the field. Backed up inside his own 20? Wentz is a rather dismal 52.2 rating. He is also exceptional on third down. His passer rating of 123.4 on that down is his best of any down. He is especially adept on 3rd and 10+ yards, where he has a remarkable rating of 119.0. As good as he is on 3rd and long, he’s even better on 3rd and less than seven yards. He has a rating of 140.5 in those situations.

This is the profile a player who plays his best in the biggest moments. He adds scrambling ability to make things even more challenging for defenses. Not to mention, Wentz rarely throws interceptions.

Seahawks key advantages on defense

 

The Eagles are at their best when the run game is flying. They feature a stable of tough running backs who run behind a stout offensive line. They are facing a rush defense, though, that is playing its best football of the season. No team has rushed for more than 89 yards against the Seahawks in the past four games. Expecting that kind of suffocation is probably optimistic, but if the Seahawks can slow this Eagles running game, it could be the key to giving the offense the chance it needs to outscore them.

Wentz also has not been the same player on the road. He has a 94.4 passer rating away from Philly versus a 113.2 rating at home. His completion rate drops from 63.5% at home to 56.7% on the road. The stadium will be full and loud. The closest comparable venue he played in this year is Kansas City, and we know how that turned out.

That should help the Seahawks pass rush, which has the upper hand already against this Eagles line that has surrendered a fair number of sacks. They are without Jason Peters at left tackle, which could be a chance for guys like Dion Jordan, Frank Clark, and Branden Jackson to wreak havoc.

Special Teams

Seahawks kicking vs Eagles returning

 

 

Eagles kicking vs Seahawks returning

The Seahawks kick return game has come to life the past two weeks. The Eagles have struggled in kick coverage all year. Tyler Lockett could be a wild card.

 

 

 

Thanks to Sarah Heath and Chris Rood for sponsoring this series!

10 Responses

  1. dave

    I hope your gut feeling that hawks will win is right, I know a lot of us fans are discouraged this year, but how close are we to being 9-2? a remarkable touchdown by the skins (or a horrible letdown by the hawks), some questionable coaching decisions during the falcons game, 5 missed FGs in those 2 games, thats the difference… so I agree, if all of the Hawks including Blair Walsh, the 12s & especially the coaches bring their A game we have a good chance of winning this one. Go Hawks

    Reply
    • Mark Dewees

      Honestly could be 10-1 since the refs basicly handed the Packers the game in week 1 by calling back pick six and not calling PI in the end zone

      Reply
  2. Uncle Bob

    Since I hang here at the blog I’d love to drink your Kool-Aid Brian……………but my gut just isn’t feelin’ it now. The other day I said I’d love to see these guys rise up and bite the opponent like they did last year in Foxboro………………but that’s my hope…….not my expectation. Prime time, their previous records, the quality skill players on the Hawks…………..all that can spin a web of possible optimism, but Philly has terrific momentum, regardless of SOS, and plenty of skill players who ball. Anything less than a perfect performance by our guys across the team units (including coaches) will fall short. The Seahawks being handed a two digit scoring defeat seems very plausible to me…………..I don’t want it that way, it’s just the way it looks and feels this year. I’ll offer myself up as the goat to be slaughtered on the altar of negativity…………….please!!

    Reply
  3. Darrell Singh

    Teams that haven’t faced a decent defense usually get rocked. Sea DEF (despite the injuries,) are still top 10. I really believe the PHI is gonna experience a rude awakening.

    Next comes a LA smackdown and then everyone will be back on the SEA bandwagon.

    (As I ‘evil laugh’ while stirring my cherry Kool-Aid bowl)

    #IBelieve

    Reply
  4. Rowdy Yates

    Fork in the road time.

    I hope the refs bring their A game, and may the best bird win.

    Reply
    • Kurt Z

      I can’t read this game at all.

      The NFC East is dreadful but we lost to the Redskins at home, on what I thought was a terrible trap game.

      Seattle doesn’t play four quarters of football anymore, mostly cuz we have no running game, so Fran Trankenton the fourth spends all his time spinning and dancing and throwing shit up in the air for grabs.

      That is not sustainable.

      Philly looks younger bigger stronger faster.

      I say it goes down just like the trend.

      We get down early on a pick-six, fight and claw our way back against their prevent nothing defense, miss a makable field goal and spend the rest of the season saying we coulda beat the Falcons and the Eagles.

      We have an 8-8 record written all over us.

      Reply
    • doug

      Yes. Lose, and the fork goes into the Seahawks with a “you’re done”.

      But if the Seahawks win… and this is just the kind of situation to bring out the very best from the team… look out for the rest of the season. The Seahawks will have some swagger, and a big chip on their shoulder and a finish like 2015 may be in the cards.

      Reply
  5. Hawkman

    Everyone should listen to Brian Baldinger – He has clearly stated that Seattle’s o-line is absolutely pathetic . Making mistakes in week twelve that mediocre college teams don’t do. The fault for no running game and no pocket to speak lies directly at the feet of coaching and Draft choices . Who is at the top of the list for those responsibilities ? Until we get at least a middle of the pack /reasonable Pro O-line and proper coaching for that line the Hawks will just be chasing a playoff spot and not a championship !

    Reply
    • Doug

      No sacks last week (ok, Russ wormed his way out of a couple, but the protection is WAY better than it was at the start of the year), and there ARE running lanes available if only we had a RB healthy enough to take advantage. Lacy’s first steps are too slow and he doesn’t have the jump cut ability needed to run the outside zone plays. Rawls had it, but looks like he has lost it (or at least lost the confidence of the coaches). Let’s see if Davis is healthy enough this week. Give the line a bit of slack–this week will be the first week they have actually practices together as the unit that will start on Sunday. Looking at the injuries on the team vs the W-L record I would say the coaches are doing aight.

      Reply

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