Seahawks-Eagles Wild Card preview: By the numbers
The Seattle Seahawks will hit the road for Wild Card weekend to face off against the 9-7 Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, January 5.
The numbers 90 and zero are notable in this matchup — here’s why:
Philadelphia limited opposing offenses to an average of 90 rushing yards per game in the 2019 regular season, good for third overall league-wide.
The defense allowed opponents to rush for over 100 yards just five times: against the Vikings in Week 6 (122 yards), the Cowboys in Week 7 (189 yards), the Seahawks in Week 12 (174 yards), Washington in Week 15 (101 yards) and the New York Giants in Week 17 (122 yards).
They fared even better at home, allowing an average of just 77.2 rushing yards per game.
Heading up Philadelphia’s defensive line is defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, though that group also includes defensive ends Brandon Graham, the team leader in sacks (8.5) and Derek Barnett.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks finished the regular season ranked fourth overall in rushing offense – but this time, they’ll be without leading rusher Chris Carson (1,496 combined yards and nine touchdowns), along with tailbacks Rashaad Penny and C.J. Prosise, all of whom are on the injured reserve list.
Seattle will have Marshawn Lynch and Travis Homer, but short their regular starter – and facing a stout run defense — could the offense alter its approach and lean into the pass against Philadelphia? It’s an approach they took against Tampa Bay’s top-ranked run defense in Week 9, when quarterback Russell Wilson had 43 pass attempts, 378 yards and five touchdowns.
The number of playoff games started by Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, which is hard to believe given the Eagles’ Super Bowl win just two years ago. (In comparison, this will be Wilson’s 14th playoff appearance.)
Playoff experience — or a lack thereof — isn’t a true predictor of success. After all, Wilson won his first playoff game, and Wentz is certainly talented and shines outside the pocket. But experience is a factor, and one Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is well aware of. ESPN’s Tim McManus wrote this week about Pederson’s plan to keep Wentz clear-headed Sunday, which involves staying up-tempo “to prevent overthinking and establish a rhythm.”
That’s pretty transparent coming from a head coach, but wouldn’t be an especially surprising move, especially considering Wentz’s recent string of success in Philadelphia’s final four contests.
That poses a challenge for Seattle’s defense, particularly the pass rush, which found its footing in Week 10 and had its strongest performance of the season in a Week 12 win over Philadelphia. That production has floundered in the last few outings, though. This time Seattle will have edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney (and see the return of safety Quandre Diggs). Getting the best of Philly’s offensive line, and putting pressure on Wentz, will be a key to a Seattle win.
Zero is a notable number for one other reason: noted by 710 ESPN Seattle’s Michael Bumpus during Friday’s Seahawks playoff roundtable, it’s the number of times Russell Wilson has lost three consecutive games in the same season.
More Seahawks-Eagles previews
• Clayton: Seahawks-Eagles will be a battle of attrition
• O’Neil: A Seahawks loss would conclude ‘death spiral’ after 10-2 start
• Moore: Seahawks’ insistence on running will sink them against Eagles
• Seahawks gets Diggs back, O-line may take a hit
• Seahawks’ run game ‘has some stature to it’ again thanks to Lynch, Homer