After an exciting opening day of football on Wild Card weekend, the Seattle Seahawks head to Philadelphia on Sunday to face the Eagles and try to keep the intensity going. The Seahawks are reeling a bit, losing three of their last four games to NFC West division opponents. The Eagles closed out the regular season winning four in a row, all against NFC East opponents, including a huge Week 16 win over the Cowboys.
Seattle lost its leading rusher in Chris Carson, as well as backup Rashaad Penny, forcing it to sign former Seahawks legend, Marshawn Lynch, right before the playoffs. That signing that could bring some energy over the next few weeks if Seattle can advance.
The Eagles are banged up everywhere, especially on offense. They’re without their number one and two receivers, Miles Sanders isn’t 100 percent, and neither is Zach Ertz. Philadelphia is favored by one point headed into the game, with an over/under of 45.
The Return of the Beast
Lynch returned to the Seahawks just in time for the playoffs, and with some large shoes to fill. Chris Carson rushed for 1,230 yards on the season before being injured, as well as nine touchdowns. If anyone is capable of picking up where someone left off and dominating, it should be Lynch.
He has plenty of playoff experience, as well as experience within this offense, and he stepped in for 12 carries for 34 yards and a touchdown in his first action of the season last week. If Lynch buys in to how Seattle wants to use him, the Seahawks may be able to blow the Eagles out on the road Sunday.
Russell Wilson comes into this matchup with a couple more targets than he’s used to. Veteran Tyler Lockett and rookie D.K. Metcalf will be his primary targets, and both have been solid all season long. Lockett has speed and ability to stretch the field, while Metcalf has size and strength, and the ability to go up and get it.
Wilson needs a few others to step Sunday to keep the score running up, primarily tight end Jacob Hollister. The Seahawks need big contributions from the young tight end.
The Eagles have to be the most lackluster hot team I’ve ever seen. They’ve won four straight, but somehow it doesn’t seem like it. A few of their late-season wins almost felt like losses. Sanders, who was hurt early in Week 17, will be playing Sunday, but admittedly not at 100 percent.
The Eagles will ride the hot hand of Boston Scott and hope he can find some more of his Week 17 magic. Scott scored three times in the Eagles’ final game of the season.
The Philadelphia defense ranks 10th in the NFL, while its rushing defense ranks third. If the Seahawks want to get this job done, they may have to lean on Wilson to pick apart a 19th-ranked passing defense.
Of course, safety Malcolm Jenkins might have something to say about that. Jenkins led the team in tackles and forced fumbles on the season and has been a great leader of the defense.
Defensive end Brandon Graham leads the team in sacks and looks to keep his career-best campaign going in the playoffs.
Playing it Loose
A healthy Seahawks team would surely be favored in this matchup. Having the Seahawks plus anything seems backwards, but their rushing attack is badly beaten down right now.
Philly is 7-9 against the spread this season, while the Seahawks are 7-8-1, so not much to see there. Seattle is 3-1 as the road dogs against the spread, while Philadelphia is 2-3 as the home favorite.
Seattle’s trend of covering the spread on the road should continue Sunday, so the pick here is the Seahawks to win and cover with ease.