The last time these two teams met at the Linc six weeks ago, the Eagles turned the ball over a season-high five times and still managed to lose by only eight points.
In the five games since then, the Eagles have done a much better job of protecting the football (one interception on a Hail Mary pass against Miami and a pair of fumbles).
The Eagles are riding a wave of confidence right now after winning four straight games. That two of them were against the four-win Giants and another was against the three-win Redskins is inconsequential. Those wins have made them believe they can win Sunday, and that’s really all that matters.
The Seahawks have lost three of their last four and have to travel across the country for this game. They’re missing their starting left tackle and their top three running backs, and their pass rush stinks.
But they have Russell Wilson and that might be all that matters if the Eagles can’t stop him from scrambling and extending plays, and if their cornerbacks can’t keep D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in front of them.
Jim Schwartz’s defense hasn’t given up more than 17 points at home in its last six games at the Linc. If it can run that streak to seven Sunday, the Eagles will win. Even if it can just keep the Seahawks under 24, I think it might be good enough.
Prediction: Eagles 24, Seahawks 23
It might be crazy, but I think the Eagles could be a dangerous team in the playoffs, at least for this round. I didn’t pick them against the Dallas Cowboys, and I wasn’t even sure the game would be all that close. I uneasily selected them last week in the Giants’ game, but they pulled away in the fourth quarter and are now hosting a playoff game as winners of four straight.
The Seahawks have the advantage in several areas, but they are certainly not the hotter team. Since beating the Eagles on Nov. 26, Seattle is 2-3 and coming off a heartbreaking loss in the regular-season finale to the San Francisco 49ers. As the 49ers enjoy a bye week, the Seahawks will be boarding a plane for a six-hour flight yet again. The last time these two teams played, Carson Wentz had two interceptions and two fumbles. Wentz hasn’t thrown a meaningful interception since, with his only pick coming on a desperation heave against Miami.
Seattle has an unrelenting commitment to running the football, which is good news for the Eagles. FootballOutsiders graded the Eagles’ run defense as the fourth highest in the regular season. Partly thanks to a Rashaad Penny 58-yard run, the Seahawks had 174 rushing yards in the first meeting, the second-highest total allowed by the Eagles all season. But Seattle won’t have Penny or its other two top running backs on Sunday. Even if Marshawn Lynch has anything left in the tank, the Eagles are coming off two strong performances against Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley, two of the best backs in football.
There are plenty of reasons to go with the Seahawks still. They have the better quarterback. The Eagles secondary is still suspect and injuries continue to cost them on both sides of the ball, but I’m going to go with the hot team at home in a close game.
Prediction: Eagles 31, Seahawks 27
A couple of weeks back, I had no intention of picking the Eagles to win anything against anybody in the postseason, a place in which I was pretty sure they had no business playing.
What happened? Well, Zach Ertz, Miles Sanders, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson joined an already absurd injury list. And, oh yeah, the Eagles beat the Cowboys and Giants.
Is it ridiculous to think a team that ended the Giants game missing seven of 11 Week 1 offensive starters is going to get past the 11-5 Seahawks on Sunday? Probably, but I’m gonna go ahead and think it anyhow. And I’m not just counting on moonbeams and rainbows and guys from the practice squad doing “Rudy” impressions. Seattle’s defense actually ranks behind the Eagles’ defense in just about every category except turnovers. That is an important category, as the Seahawks demonstrated Nov. 24, when they took advantage of five of them to win at the Linc. I’m thinking that doesn’t happen again.
The thing about turnovers is, they have a lot to do with luck. (See Eagles vs. Falcons, January 2018, pass bounces off defender’s chest right to Torrey Smith.) Most teams that get a lot one year tend not to get nearly as many the next year. This also happens within seasons; The Seattle Times tells us that the Seahawks garnered half of their total of 32 in a five-game stretch, including that earlier Eagles game. In losing their final two games of the regular season, the Seahawks generated no turnovers.
The other big obstacle is Russell Wilson. He is one of the top three or four QBs in the league, an amazing, smart, athletic, dangerous player. But he likes to change plays at the line, and I’m thinking that won’t be easy at the Linc on Sunday. And like Carson Wentz, Wilson has seen his arsenal of weapons depleted by injury. His offensive line just flat out isn’t good. The Eagles’ defensive line is good.
So I’m taking the Eagles, and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but I have my reasons.
Prediction: Eagles 19, Seahawks 17
There’s little doubt the streaking Eagles can beat the Seahawks, who have lost three of their last four games. In the first meeting between the teams, the Eagles committed five turnovers and still lost by only eight points. I can’t imagine they will give the ball away as many times in the rematch.
Turmoil on the offensive line played a significant role in the turnovers. Lane Johnson was out, Andre Dillard played right tackle for the first time ever, which in turn led to Brandon Brooks’ anxiety-induced early exit. The first half was a nightmare for quarterback Carson Wentz until Dillard was yanked and Halapoulivaati Vaitai took his place.
Vaitai has filled in admirably for Johnson over the last several weeks, but getting Johnson back would be a boost with Brooks done for the season with a shoulder injury. If Johnson’s ankle isn’t ready, Matt Pryor will play at right guard. A week of preparation should help, but a Vaitai-Pryor right side is an obvious downgrade.
Still, Seattle’s defense isn’t exactly formidable. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who had a game-high 13 tackles in the November game is out, and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is questionable. Bobby Wagner is as good as they come at inside linebacker, and K.J. Wright is a solid wing man, but the Seahawks secondary is a far cry from the Legion of Boom.
Injuries have also plagued Seattle on offense. They’ll be without top running backs Cris Carson and Rashaad Penny. Marshawn Lynch was lulled out of retirement, but the lack of quality in the backfield may actually be a positive for the Seahawks as it would keep offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer from running the ball too often. It’s his blind spot and it likely cost Seattle last postseason.
Russel Wilson is the Seahawks’ best case for victory, and he’s a pretty good one. Wilson was kept in check by Jim Schwartz’s defense two months ago, but Seattle also failed to capitalize on some blown coverages. Can the Eagles pressure Wilson as much as they did the first time? It’s possible. The Eagles have a clear advantage up front. One of the keys will be keeping Wilson from extending plays, though.
Seattle has the edge at quarterback, especially given Wilson’s playoff experience, but Wentz has been a difference maker the last month, even with a cast of unknown skill position players. Still, injuries to Zach Ertz, Miles Sanders and Johnson — even if they play — make the Eagles’ challenge that much tougher. I think it will be close, but Wilson is the closer, unless Schottenheimer gets in his way.
Prediction: Seahawks 27, Eagles 23.