The Eagles are underdogs for their wild-card round playoff game. Perfect. That’s the way the guys in midnight green like it.
Despite opening up a two-point favorite versus Seattle when the betting lines opened, the Eagles are now getting 1.5 points on their home turf.
Doug Pederson has relished this role many times as head coach in Philadelphia where he has posted a sterling 5-0 record as a postseason underdog. They have covered the spread every time, including during their gutsy Super Bowl victory in 2018. Buckle up, everyone.
“I remember back in ’17 when we were the No. 1 seed, and we were the worst No. 1 seed. We didn’t have a shot,” Pederson told reporters. “Now, we’re a division winner, the fourth seed, and probably still don’t have a shot, but that’s OK. Everybody’s 0-0, and that’s what we focus on.”
5 Bold Predictions for Eagles-Seahawks
Zach Ertz Will Play Decoy Role for Eagles
The fact that Zach Ertz intends to play today with a reported lacerated kidney is kind of crazy. He could suffer internal bleeding or worse. It’s a great public relations move for a guy who carries a reputation as a soft player, though. Look for the Eagles to use the Pro-Bowl tight end in more of a decoy role. Dallas Goedert has proven he can handle a heavier workload after hauling in 13 catches for 156 yards over the past two weeks. Seattle will have to respect Ertz by keeping a safety on alert in coverage and Goedert will reap the benefits.
Brandon Graham Will Feast Once Again
The Eagles’ sack leader has feasted on Seattle over the years to the tune of three sacks in four games, along with five quarterback hits and two tackles for loss. The Michigan product recorded 1.5 sacks when these two teams last met on Nov. 24 in Philadelphia. More importantly, Graham has a knack for turning in monster performances in the biggest games (see: strip-sack on Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII, plus a huge third-down sack last week versus New York). The 31-year-old set a goal of 10 sacks before the season started and finished with 8.5. He ranks fifth all-time in franchise history with 51 sacks.
Get Ready to Pay Halapoulivaati Vaitai
The guard-tackle hybrid has arguably been the most integral part of the Eagles’ dominant offensive line over the past three seasons as he has started in 17 games, including postseason contests and Super Bowl LII. The Eagles have gone a whopping 14-3 in his starts, mostly in a fill-in role for future Hall-of-Famer Jason Peters at left tackle.
There were rumblings about the team possibly trying to trade Vaitai in the offseason in an effort to upgrade at receiver. Well, that never happened. Now the Eagles are going to have to think about paying Vaitai or letting him walk via free agency. This is the final year of Vaitai’s rookie deal and he’s proven he can play at a very high level — at a starter’s level — in the NFL.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside or Robert Davis?
A wide receiver not named Greg Ward Jr. will have to step up in this game. The common thinking was that Arcega-Whiteside might want to prove his doubters wrong and put up monster numbers versus the guy — Seattle’s DK Metcalf — that many believe the Eagles should have drafted over him. He had two catches for 43 yards in their first meeting.
However, the rookie has been nursing a sore foot and his snaps have steadily declined in recent weeks, from 45 snaps against Dallas to 17 versus New York. Meanwhile, former practice-squad ace Robert Davis has been trending up. He had 29 snaps versus Dallas and sky-rocketed to 58 against New York. Look for Davis to make an impact in this one.
Carson Wentz Shuts All the Haters Up
What more does the Eagles quarterback have to prove or do? He has annihilated every important record in the books with his stellar play, mostly throwing to a bunch of guys he found loitering at Wawa. Wentz has set single-season franchise records for passing yards and completions while becoming the first signal-caller in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards with no 500-yard receiver.
That’s impossibly historic. Yet Wentz’s haters persist, crawling out of the woodwork like wayward termites. The quarterback can say he doesn’t hear the critics all he wants, but he does. Wentz throws for three scores and finds 10 different receivers in stamping his first career playoff win.
Game Prediction: Eagles 21, Seahawks 18
That’s it. Very simple. Carson Wentz throws three touchdowns in this game and finds three different receivers in the end zone — an educated guess would be Boston Scott, Robert Davis, Dallas Goedert — en route to his first playoff victory. The real story of the Eagles-Seahawks wild-card showdown will be on the defensive side of the ball.
Jim Schwartz’s unit will have to play lock-down defense on the outside, particularly with Jalen Mills shutting down DK Metcalf. The Seahawks averaged 6.7 yards per rush on Nov. 24, thanks to Rashard Penny’s breakout performance. Penny is on IR and Marshawn Lynch is back. He’s too old and worn down to make a difference in this one. Eagles win 21-18.
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