The Eagles are down four offensive starters from a unit already struggling to score points.
Still, the optimist sees his glass half-full — and the liquid inside is green go juice. Philadelphia is desperate for a win this week, versus a tough conference opponent in what should be a rain-soaked affair (and maybe snow) at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles play their best when their backs are up against the wall. This is a must-win game. Head coach Doug Pederson trusts his guys to seize the moment.
“It’s just a resilient group. I lean on the leaders, I lean on the veteran players on the team to really keep everything coming,” Pederson said. “We just have to go practice and continue to trust our process, and do all the little things that really helped us get to the post-season and then ultimately the Super Bowl a couple years ago.”
Top 5 Reasons Why Eagles Beat Seahawks
First, let’s get to the good news. Seattle will be without their attacking pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney today against the Eagles. That should alleviate some pressure from the offensive line and Carson Wentz. But there are other reasons why Philadelphia can win this game.
Strength versus Strength
The weather forecast is calling for rain and cold temperatures, along with strong wind gusts and maybe snow Sunday in Philadelphia. That means a game played and won in between the trenches. Chris Carson paces the Seahawks’ rushing attack, ranked sixth-best in the entire NFL (133.2 yards per game).
Conversely, the Eagles have made a living on stopping the run as evidenced by the team owning the fourth-best rush defense in the league (86.0 yards per game). It’s strength versus strength on the ground and the return of starting linebacker Nigel Bradham will be the key to limiting Carson.
The Jay Ajayi Game
The Eagles are missing four starters on offense, including three of their best skill players (don’t laugh) in Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Jordan Howard. It’s easy to sit there and laugh while imagining an afternoon filled with punts and long third downs. Stop.
The Eagles signed Jay Ajayi last week to add another dimension to their anemic offense, a guy who can slash and grind his way for monster gains. Ajayi averaged 5.8 yards per carry two years ago during the Super Bowl run. Yes, the Eagles will use rookie Miles Sanders but this is Ajayi’s day to shine. Philly fans may look back fondly at this contest as the “Jay Ajayi Game.”
Defensive Line ‘Gonna Eat’
The Eagles’ pass-rush has been an enigma through 10 games. They rank tied for 16th in the league in sacks (25) but it’s very much been a work in progress. Remember, they recorded 10 sacks in a single game. Vinny Curry has been a downright bust, while Fletcher Cox wasn’t playing at 100-percent to start the year. The only consistent player on the defensive line has been Brandon Graham.
That all changes today. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz finally has a healthy secondary — Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby deserve a ton of credit — and he can bring the blitz at will. Keep a linebacker, preferably Nate Gerry, into spy Russell Wilson and let the sack-masters wreak havoc.
Carson Wentz Sick of Hearing Criticism
The criticism hasn’t reached Donovan McNabb levels of insanity. Not yet. But there have been some small frustrations over Carson Wentz’s inability to find open receivers, along with his propensity for holding the football too long and taking unnecessary sacks. It hasn’t been all his fault, but he does need to play better. Is this the week he puts on the Superman cape?
It has to be. He’s running out of chances. Look for Wentz to establish an early rhythm with Jordan Matthews who saw an absurd 64 offensive snaps last week. Rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is another guy to watch as he must be sick of hearing about how the Eagles passed on D.K. Metcalf to take him.
Win the Turnover Battle
This one seems too obvious. That’s because it is. The Eagles just haven’t been good at creating turnovers since their run to a Super Bowl title in 2017. They rank 20th in the NFL this season, with a -2 turnover ratio. They have generated eight interceptions on defense while giving up four on offense.
Meanwhile, the Eagles have fumbled the ball 10 times. The latter stat is an embarrassment and Carson Wentz is the leading offender. Philadelphia needs to win the turnover battle versus Seattle. Jalen Mills is the catalyst on that front, maybe he can channel his inner Lito Sheppard. The former Eagles cornerback was known for making splash plays on defense and he’ll be in the house as the team’s honorary captain.
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