Eagles

Your In-Depth Eagles at Seahawks Week 13 Preview

David Maialetti | philly.com

The Philadelphia Eagles are about to return to the scene of the crime from last year when they were Sleepless in Seattle. The hate for Nelson Agholor was at an all-time high.

It’s time to exact some revenge.

 

EAGLES PASSING GAME VS. SEAHAWKS PASS DEFENSE
PHI- 104.4 PASSER RATING (2/32), 234 YPG (15/32)
SEA- 79.1 PASSER RATING ALLOWED (7/32), 213 YPG ALLOWED (10/32)

No Richard Sherman. No Kam Chancellor. And not only that, underrated pass rusher Cliff Avril won’t play either.

Due to those injuries Alshon Jeffery won’t have to go against Sherman, instead he’ll be most likely spending most of his snaps squaring off with rookie Shaquill Griffin, who returns following a one-game absence due to a concussion. Jeffery has turned it on in recent weeks, snatching five touchdowns in his last four games and snagging five of his eight targets last week for 52 yards and a score.

The cohesion between Jeffery and Carson Wentz continues to grow. Jeffery is at his best getting outstretched and using his strong hands to pluck back-shoulder throws along the sideline, but Wentz has thrown this pass too low and far inside far too much this season. That wasn’t the case Sunday.

If Wentz’s accuracy on that pass remains consistent, watch out!

Speaking of Wentz, he’s a large reason why the Eagles have scored 18 touchdowns over their last 20 red zone trips. He hasn’t thrown an interception when inside the 20 this season and hasn’t registered a pick when blitzed either. He’s also thrown at least two scores in seven straight games, which is tied for the franchise record.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson spoke about Wentz’s progression earlier this week.

We’re obviously pleased with where he’s at currently with the growth, but listen, every game is a new game for him and it’s a learning experience. I think he can get incrementally better. There’s still things that show up on tape where he can make a better decision, playing the quarterback position. He makes a lot of great decisions, don’t get me wrong there. But I think he can continue to get better and continue to help this football team win games.

Nelson Agholor’s returns to Seattle for the first time since his meltdown last year when he committed a penalty after not lining up right on a long Zach Ertz touchdown and followed that up with a critical drop after running wide open over the middle of the field. He’s obviously had a career resurgence this year and recorded his sixth touchdown reception Sunday.

A matchup to watch will be Ertz going against Bobby Wagner, who is arguably the best coverage linebacker in football. Ertz has seven red zone touchdowns this season and has been Wentz’s favorite target when the Eagles are inside the 20.

 

EAGLES RUNNING GAME VS. SEAHAWKS RUN DEFENSE
PHI- 4.6 YPC (3/32), 147.5 YPG (2/32)
SEA- 3.8 YPC ALLOWED (9/32), 98.4 YPG ALLOWED (9/32)

The Eagles have run for 175-plus yards in three straight games for the first time since 1990. There was a point in the season where the Eagles hit a bit of a lull carrying the football, but the addition of Jay Ajayi has really opened things up. As for Ajayi and all of his “postgame” antics last week, I bet he and Pederson had a nice chat on Monday and everything will be fine. I’m also predicting that Ajayi will see 10 carries after toting it 20 times in the three games since he’s come to Philly.

Seattle’s front seven is still very good. Sheldon Richardson going against Jason Kelce is a mismatch and the Seahawks have had Jarran Reed and third-round rookie Naz Jones emerge as excellent run stuffers. Michael Bennett is still as good as they come defending the run from the defensive end spot and it’ll be fun to watch he and Lane Johnson go at it all afternoon. I believe it’ll be tough to run inside, but I can see the outside zone and sweeps potentially working.

The Eagles haven’t had much of an issue with fumbles all season, but they did put the ball on the ground four times against the Chicago Bears and lost three of them. Both Ajayi and Blount fumbled while trying to fight for extra yardage following a long run, attempting stiff arms to maximize their carries, but with only one hand on the ball both were caught from behind and stripped. Agholor, of course, recovered Ajayi’s in the end zone.

 

SEAHAWKS PASSING GAME VS. EAGLES PASS DEFENSE
PHI- 74.0 PASSER RATING ALLOWED (3/32), 227 YPG ALLOWED (17/32)
SEA- 93.9 PASSER RATING (12/32), 260 YPG (7/32)

The Seahawks’ offensive line is an abomination, but when looking at the statistics they’ve allowed 26 sacks, which is actually in the middle of the pack. So that should tell you how great of a job Russell Wilson is doing scrambling and keeping plays alive. The Eagles’ front seven will have to maintain gap responsibility, keep Wilson in the pocket and not let him escape it.

Wilson has a great receiver to throw to in Doug Baldwin, who is one of the best backyard receivers in the league. When Wilson is forced to scramble outside of the pocket Baldwin does a great job of coming back to the ball and finding holes in zones. Paul Richardson can stretch the field vertically, he’s currently fourth in catch rate on passes traveling 20 yards or more and about a quarter of his targets are of that variety.

The Eagles’ cornerbacks have played well in Darby’s absence, but he’s now back for his third game since dislocating his ankle in Week 1 against the Washington Redskins. Opposing offenses have targeted him 21 times, but he allowed only 12 receptions and his passer rating against was 51.5. He’s also making immediate tackles following passes thrown his way as none of the receptions he’s allowed has gone for more than 19 yards.

The X-Factor on Seattle might be Jimmy Graham. Philadelphia has yet to have a huge test at tight end since Jordan Hicks’ injury and Graham has hauled in six touchdowns in his last five games. He also lines up out wide as a receiver about 50 percent of the time, so the Eagles will have to figure out how they want to combat him.

 

SEAHAWKS RUNNING GAME VS. EAGLES RUN DEFENSE
PHI- 3.5 YPC ALLOWED (4/32), 65.1 YPG ALLOWED (1/32)
SEA- 3.9 YPC (23/32), 102.9 YPG (19/32)

The Eagles possess the league’s top run defense in terms of yards per game allowed and the Seahawks have struggled to find traction with their rushing attack all season long. They’ve yet to have anyone emerge out of their stable except for Chris Carson, who hasn’t played since Week 4 due to an ankle injury. Eddie Lacy has been the flavor of the week lately and he’s averaging just 2.6 yards per carry on the season. J.D. McKissic provides some speed along the edges.

Wilson leads the team with 401 yards on 65 totes.

 

PREDICTION

If the Eagles want to contain Russell Wilson, the front seven will have to maintain gap integrity and if they keep him in the pocket they should be successful. The Seahawks haven’t been able to run the ball all year. With Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor’s absence in the secondary, I think the Eagles take advantage and win it.

Eagles 26-20.

 


You can follow Adrian Fedkiw on Twitter (@AdrianFedkiw) and e-mail him at amfedkiw@yahoo.com. Subscribe to The Bitter Birds on YouTube here. Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.

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