When you look at all of the numbers behind the Eagles’ 10-1 start, it’s easier to see why they’re favored by 5 1/2 points over the Seahawks Sunday night. But it’s still strange – the Seahawks had not been a home underdog in five years until they played Atlanta two weeks ago. The Falcons were one-point favorites at kickoff. Now here the Seahawks are, underdogs for a second straight time at home, in danger of losing their third game of the season at CenturyLink Field.
On Wednesday, Danny O’Neil doubted the Eagles, saying he didn’t think they were as good as a 10-1 record would suggest they are, thinking that even if they go 14-2, they won’t go to the Super Bowl. And people think I say crazy stuff on the show.
Let me tell you something – if the Eagles finish 14-2, they’re going to the Super Bowl. I’d say period, end of story, but this story won’t end for a few more paragraphs.
You can count on no fingers the number of times a team has gone 14-2 and not made it to the Super Bowl. I don’t know if this is actually true or not, I’m just going to assume it is.
More and more with the Seahawks, I get the feeling that 12s are using wishful thinking instead of realistic thinking. Those in the wishful-thinking camp believe that since the Seahawks have a history of turning it on in the second half of the season, it will happen again, just you wait and see.
In some things, I believe that history repeats itself – Washington’s dominance in the Apple Cup is an example of that. But this year’s Seahawks’ defense does not have Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor or Cliff Avril, and the offense does not have a running game.
Wishful thinkers would say that last year’s team didn’t have much of a running game, either, but the Seahawks still went 5-3 in the second half of the season to finish 10-5-1.
Russell Wilson is the biggest reason why wishful thinkers could be right about the 2017 Seahawks. They’re in every game as long as he’s on the field, and there’s a good chance he’ll lead you to victory with a 134.9 rating in the fourth quarter this year.
But as good as he is, I just don’t think it’s enough to compensate for a one-dimensional offense and a defense that is still good but not great anymore. I would even argue that the defense, because it set the bar so high in the last four seasons, would not be as good as it used to be even if Sherman, Chancellor and Avril were healthy. Age and wear and tear has caught up to them – maybe not in a drastic way, but they seem more susceptible than they were in the past.
If Danny doubts the legitimacy of the Eagles, I’d counter that the Seahawks are a more flimsy team at 7-4 than Philadelphia is at 10-1. Just like the Eagles, the Seahawks have just one win over a team with a winning record, and that one win, 16-10 over the Rams, could have been a 17-16 loss if Cooper Kupp had not dropped Jared Goff’s pass in the end zone.
I’m guessing the Seahawks go 1-2 in their next three games against the Eagles, Jaguars and Rams to put them at 8-6. They should win the next two against the Cowboys and Cardinals, but 10-6 might leave them out of the playoffs in the NFC this year.
Maybe I’m wrong, and I probably am given my track record with predictions. But the Seahawks look like a descending team to me. It’s not some precipitous nose-dive, just a gradual decline from the Super Bowl contending teams we’re used to seeing. Like their defense, they’re good, not great.
Perhaps the offensive line will come together, but what did you see against the 49ers that makes you feel like that will happen? Oh, that’s right, Wilson wasn’t sacked, a supposedly encouraging sign. But come on, if the Seahawks’ quarterback wasn’t Jack Be Nimble, he would have been sacked four or five times. If Luke Falk played behind that line against the 49ers, he would have been sacked eight times.
Plus the running game did next to nothing against the 31st-rated rush defense in the league. And they’re supposed to magically get it going against the top-rated Eagles’ run defense, then keep it going against other highly-ranked defenses in Jacksonville and Los Angeles?
Put me in the camp with the realistic thinkers. We hang out drinking beers and roasting marshmallows, wanting the same things as the wishful thinkers, but we chuckle at their delusional optimism.
What the Seahawks have is good enough to beat the Colts, 49ers and Giants of the NFL world, but not the Eagles.
Eagles (-5 1/2) at Seahawks: Eagles 34, Seahawks 17.