Seattle Seahawks vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Complete Week 14 Preview for Seattle
The Seattle Seahawks have allowed a grand total of six points over the last two weeks, seemingly being sparked to life by a close loss to the Kansas City Chiefs three weeks ago. The Philadelphia Eagles suffered an embarrassing defeat three weeks ago to the sizzling Green Bay Packers, before getting back on track with a two-game win streak.
Both teams have picked up big divisional wins since their losses and have moved into serious contention for a top seed in the NFC playoff race. Despite recent success, neither team is out of the woods yet. There are plenty of contenders waiting to take an open playoff spot if given the chance.
The Seahawks still have a very difficult schedule ahead of them after this game in Philadelphia, but they hold their fate in their own hands. The key story leading up to this tilt is the Philadelphia offense taking on the Seattle defense. With LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and Mark Sanchez being pitted against Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner and Michael Bennett, this should prove to be an enticing game to watch on Sunday.
Week 13 Recap
It was a story of feast and famine on Thanksgiving night, with the Seattle Seahawks proving to be too much for the San Francisco 49ers to handle in a 19-3 victory. It's the second consecutive week the Seahawks have beaten an NFC West division rival by the aberrant score.
The Seahawks offense continued to do enough, while the defense appeared to find the mean streak that had made it an elite unit a year ago. Russell Wilson finished the day completing 15 of 22 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown. He also had 35 yards rushing.
The third-year quarterback found eight different targets on his 15 completions, which means no one in particular stood out. Marshawn Lynch reached 100 yards rushing for the fourth time this season, finishing with 104 on 20 carries for 5.2 yards per carry.
The San Francisco 49ers were held to 164 yards of offense, with 31 of them coming on an all-out garbage-time drive. The low score for the Seahawks is a bit deceiving, as they cost themselves prime opportunities due to penalties. Paul Richardson had a touchdown reception nullified by a penalty call as well.
San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick appeared to be off kilter from the get-go; throwing several passes high, low, behind and out of reach throughout the night. It was a dominant showing from the Seahawks defense from start to finish.
News and Notes
Marshawn Lynch to Give Interview to Former Teammate
Amid the media preoccupation with Marshawn Lynch's lack of interest in speaking with them, former Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson was able to score a one-on-one sitdown with the eccentric running back. The interview will air this Sunday on NFL Network's pregame programming, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Seahawks waive Loucheiz Purifoy
Rookie cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, whom the Seahawks claimed off waivers from the Indianapolis Colts on Friday, was waived by Seattle Monday after failing his physical with the team, said head coach Pete Carroll on Monday.
Quote of the Week
Philadelphia Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin on facing CB Richard Sherman, via The Star-Ledger: "The one thing about this league is, everyone is here for a reason. I like my chances against anybody. For the most part we stay on one side, and he's on my side. We have played against some talented defenses this year already, but we got respect for their secondary."
Marshawn Lynch's back continues to give him issues, but it hasn't stopped him from suiting up on Sundays yet. He's been limited in practice this week, along with Byron Maxwell. Should Maxwell and Lane not be available to play, the Seattle secondary could take a step back at the wrong time.
Having Cooper Helfet back in the lineup would be a welcome addition, since he has proved his receiving ability when given the opportunity. It's a waiting game on a lot of the other names listed to see if they'll be able to help the Seahawks against the Eagles.
X-Factor and Matchups to Watch
DE Fletcher Cox vs. OT Russell Okung
The Philadelphia Eagles faced a serious threat in the running game last week in DeMarco Murray and the Dallas Cowboys but came out smelling like roses. Murray, the NFL leader in rushing yards, was held to a mere 73 yards on 20 carries in the game. The Cowboys rushed for just 93 total yards on Thanksgiving.
The Seattle Seahawks cannot allow their running game to be bottled up in similar fashion. In their Thanksgiving game, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell ran right at the then-No. 7 run defense of the San Francisco 49ers. As a result, the 49ers' best run defender ended up registering his first negative outing of the season in the category, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Seattle will need to employ a similar strategy in Philadelphia by running at Fletcher Cox. The main responsibility for blocking Cox falls on the shoulders of Russell Okung. The Seahawks will need to double-team Cox from time to time but cannot go overboard due to the Eagles' dominant pass rush.
WR Jeremy Maclin vs. CB Richard Sherman
Jeremy Maclin has taken advantage of the opportunity afforded to him by Philadelphia's decision to jettison DeSean Jackson during the offseason. Maclin has 71 receptions for 1,088 yards and nine touchdowns so far this year, posting career highs in the first two stats.
In a game against arguably one of the league's best cornerbacks in Patrick Peterson and the Arizona Cardinals, Maclin posted his most impressive numbers of the year with a 12-catch, 187-yard and two-touchdown performance.
It's been far from a dominant season for Peterson, despite the Cardinals' staunch defense, but Richard Sherman has graded out much better. According to Pro Football Focus, Sherman is the fourth-best corner this year and is coming off a big two-interception performance against San Francisco a week ago.
Taking Maclin out of the game will help render the Philadelphia passing game impotent. Sherman has not allowed any receiving yards over the last two weeks and has only given up 329 yards for the season on 23 receptions, according to PFF. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 48.6 when throwing in his direction, also per PFF.
X-Factor: RB LeSean McCoy vs. Seattle Front Seven
It's been a bit of an odd season for LeSean McCoy. The Pro Bowl running back got off to a relatively slow start compared to last season, but he has posted three of his five best performances for the year over the least three weeks. McCoy has averaged more than 125 yards rushing per game over the span.
Just as springing Marshawn Lynch free for some solid runs throughout the game will be a major point of emphasis for the Seahawks, stopping McCoy is equally as important. Though the Eagles offense has only gotten better with Mark Sanchez starting at quarterback, the Seahawks have to prefer him throwing it over getting run over.
Seattle boasts the sixth-best run defense through 13 weeks of the season and will need that aspect of the defense to show up on Sunday. Sanchez has shown great rapport with Maclin and Jordan Matthews but no one else. If Sherman can keep Maclin quiet while the Seattle front stuffs McCoy, Sanchez won't have many targets left that he feels comfortable throwing to.
The Seattle defense is back in boisterous form and is backing up any chatter with its play. There's some familiarity with the Eagles' highly touted offense in that Pete Carroll coached Mark Sanchez in college at USC and has coached against Chip Kelly in college as well.
Plenty of other coaching staffs would gladly take this additional insight. This matchup is rife with great talent—they may not all be household names, but they certainly perform on Sundays. Ultimately, each side has a weakness in this game, and they both have to do with the passing game.
The Eagles have a poor secondary, and the Seahawks don't have the best receiving corps. Philadelphia's pass rush may help mask its defense's weakness, but Russell Wilson's elusiveness should extend plays and help the Seattle passing game produce some key gains.
Prediction: Seattle 27, Philadelphia 22