Moore: Seahawks’ insistence on running will sink them against Eagles
The Eagles opened as one-point favorites but are now 1 1/2-point underdogs to the Seahawks. To many people, betting lines don’t mean much, but this one suggests considerable confusion over which team will win the game.
I’m in that camp too, the really confused camp. One minute I think the Seahawks will win because of Russell Wilson, their 7-1 road record and the fact that they have already beaten the Eagles in Philadelphia, and the next minute I think the Eagles will win after seeing stats that show how good their defense is at home.
The Eagles have a fairly good defense overall, ranking 10th in the league, but they’re even better at home. Philadelphia has the biggest disparity in the NFL in points allowed on the road vs. home, 27.5 to 16.8. And check out the difference in road yards vs. home yards allowed, also the biggest in the league – 274 yards in Philadelphia, 390 yards everywhere else. Only San Francisco (267 yards) and Buffalo (273 yards) have allowed fewer yards in home games than the Eagles.
Combine that with this – I don’t like Seattle’s defense anywhere, home or away. They’re 26th in the league. And here’s the thing, they’re not good at full strength, and this week two of their best players, Jadeveon Clowney and Quandre Diggs, are projected to be at much less than 100 percent.
Yet in those minutes when I think Seattle will still win anyway, the 17-9 win at Philadelphia in November crosses my mind. They stifled the Eagles without Clowney and even though they were one of the worst sacking defenses in the league, they constantly harassed Carson Wentz, credited with three sacks and 10 quarterback hits.
Plus you think there’s no way Wentz can have a successful passing game without having his top three wide receivers – Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor – and the good possibility that Zach Ertz won’t play either. Yet Wentz, playing most of the season with a grab bag of nobodies at receiver, still threw for more than 4,000 yards, a franchise record.
Just watch, Dallas Goedert, Ertz’s backup, will look like Rob Gronkowski given Seattle’s problems in covering tight ends. And Greg Ward, a college quarterback at Houston and a practice squad player earlier this year, will look the part of the No. 1 receiver he is now.
Can you count on the Seahawks coming up with five turnovers like they did in the first game against the Eagles? I wouldn’t think so, nor do I think that Wilson will be sacked six times like he was when these two teams met before.
But here’s what I’m most concerned about. Will the Seahawks bang their heads against the wall like they did last year in the wild-card round at Dallas? Remember that game? The Seahawks kept trying to run the ball against a Cowboys’ defense that allowed an average of 71 rushing yards in regular-season home games.
Though they were the top rushing team in the league during the regular season, averaging 160 rushing yards a game, they managed only 73 yards on the ground against the Cowboys as Chris Carson had 13 carries for 20 yards.
The Eagles are tied with New England at No. 1 in the league this year, allowing just 77.2 rushing yards per game at home. And the Seahawks were fourth in the league in rushing, averaging 137.5 yards. But they don’t have Carson or Rashaad Penny anymore. They’ll go with rookie Travis Homer and Marshawn Lynch, who might show flashes of Beast Mode but won’t remind anyone of the present-day Carson.
If I’m offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, I’m learning from my mistakes last year in Dallas and unleashing Wilson, who unlike Wentz has his top two wide receivers available in Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf and a tight end in Jacob Hollister who leads the team in receptions the last seven games.
But I’m afraid we’ll see the Seahawks trying to establish the run game and being stubborn about it again, not changing the game plan until it’s too late. That, and Seattle’s subpar defense, are the reasons why I think the Seahawks’ season ends Sunday in Philadelphia.
Prediction: Eagles 24, Seahawks 21