They'll talk about the defense a lot during the broadcast Sunday afternoon from Lincoln Financial Field. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will talk about Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas and the Legion of Boom. They'll talk about the Seattle Seahawks and how the defense that trampled its way to last year's Super Bowl title appears to be resurfacing just as this season hits the stretch run.
Eventually, they might get around to mentioning the other team's defense. They might point out that Eagles outside linebacker Connor Barwin leads the NFC with 121/2 sacks or that defensive end Fletcher Cox has emerged as a force among the home team's front seven.
They will not dare compare the two defenses, nor should they. Seattle's defense is the creme de la creme of the NFL. The nicest thing we can say about the other defense is that it is getting better, and it might even be good enough to allow the Eagles to make a deep playoff run.
"No doubt the defense has grown from last year to this year, which, of course, it should," Barwin said. "I think the addition of Nolan Carroll and Malcolm Jenkins helped us as a defense. I think Brandon Graham and Trent Cole have grown a lot as outside linebackers in Year 2 in this system. I think we have all gotten better. I think our defense has grown as our packages have grown to kind of answer things we did not have an answer for last year and we did not have an answer for earlier this season."
That growth was stunted when inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans, the leader of the front seven and a man who leaves a mark when he hits, was lost for the season in Houston last month. Inside linebacker was a position of strength and depth when the Eagles arrived in training camp, but injuries have significantly altered that situation.
Casey Matthews and rookie Marcus Smith are the only two inside linebackers who have not missed time because of injuries, and they also are the only two who probably would not have received any playing time at the position if everyone else had remained healthy.
Regardless, you roll with the hand you are dealt in the NFL, and the Eagles, save for their frozen nightmare in Green Bay, have navigated the course quite well.
Even though the Eagles defense does not dominate in the same manner as the Seahawks, it actually does some things just as well and some things even better. The Eagles, for instance, are much better at pressuring opposing quarterbacks. They rank second in the NFL with 42 sacks while Seattle is 27th with just 20. According to ProFootballFocus.com, the Eagles have 165 quarterback hurries compared with just 136 for the Seahawks. Both teams have 40 quarterback hits.
The Eagles also have been more adept at creating turnovers and have been each of the last two seasons. It is not the fault of the defense that the Eagles are minus-six in turnovers. The Eagles are tied for first in the NFL with 20 forced fumbles and are tied for second with 12 recoveries. Seattle has 17 forced fumbles and has recovered nine. The Eagles, with 10, also have one more interception than the Seahawks, which gives them 22 takeaways. That's tied for fifth in the NFL. Seattle has 18.
"I think the biggest thing we've learned about ourselves is what our formula for winning is on defense," Jenkins said. "We all believe that we stop the run with all 11 guys, and we just fly around the football. Our effort and pure want-to is what stops the run, and we do a good job of holding up against the run."
That, of course, will be critical against the Seahawks, who come to the Linc with the NFL's top rushing team. The duo of running back Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson create a unique problem for every defense they face, and the Eagles are well aware of that fact.
"In a nutshell, it's not letting Marshawn Lynch get started," Barwin said. "Limit him and then contain Russell Wilson."
The Seahawks' greatest offensive weakness is throwing the football, but that is also the weakest link on the Eagles defense. Jenkins believes he knows how that can become a positive for the Eagles.
"When it comes to the pass game . . . when our secondary and linebackers press and reroute the receivers and take away the early timing of the play, we can get pressure with the four-man rush," he said. "They beat their one-on-ones real quick, and we get quarterback hits and sacks and bad throws turn into interceptions."
The Eagles defense, of course, will not actually be going against Seattle's defense. But the defensive players know it's possible that points could be hard to come by for the offense against a team that has surrendered just a single field goal in each of its last two games.
"So we better not give up very many points," Barwin said. "On my side of the ball, we have a lot of respect for those guys, but every week we always compare ourselves. Not necessarily compare, but we believe that whoever wins this game is the team that plays better on defense, and I think it's the same thing this week."
If the Eagles defense plays better than Seattle's on Sunday, it will give a lot of people something to talk about.