NFL Week 11 Preview: Seahawks vs. Eagles
As I mentioned recently, every time I set great expectations for the Seahawks offense, they let me down. To protect my nerves, I will be keeping those expectations low for this week, just as I did last week. The Philadelphia Eagles, featuring their rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, are coming to Seattle for a showdown in the middle of the football day (4:25pm). My gut wants to tell me that this will be an ugly game, considering the talent on Philly’s defensive line going against the “talent” on our offensive line. As I mention pretty much every week, both Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett are steadily climbing the ladder when it comes to their respective health issues. With a healthy Wilson, this takes some pressure off of the offensive line to hold steady in the pass game and create openings in the run game, provided he is capable of bringing back his trademark slippery elusiveness and incorporating it into the game plan at a high level. Now, if Seattle has a fully healthy Lockett? Where he’s been scratching the door as a receiver (not totally his fault), he could very well kick it in as a return man. This will force me to make a key point out of something I have rarely discussed this season – special teams:
SPECIAL TEAMS: Honestly, even if Lockett weren’t healthy, I would still need to discuss special teams play. The Eagles are incredibly dangerous in this phase, which means Seattle will need to execute perfectly on almost every ST snap, or face possible disaster. The Eagles’ return game is ridiculous, and they have two return touchdowns this season. Considering how unpredictable the offense can be? Seattle would be very wise not to allow a third.
Lockett being healthy, though, is not something to overlook. This is a guy who turned his first punt return into a 57-yard touchdown. He showed a lot of his explosiveness in New England. I’d wager that that is more than a flash in the pan.
THE RUN GAME: While much ado has been made about Carson Wentz, the Eagles are eighth in rushing. Ryan Mathews and the seemingly ageless Darren Sproles carry the bulk of that load, and do it well. Seattle’s run defense has not impressed over the last few weeks. This would be a great time for that run defense up front to recapture its form, as the linebackers will very much have their hands full dealing with Sproles and Mathews.
Thomas Rawls is back (again). However, it won’t be his show until he’s gotten his legs back under him. The bulk of touches out of the backfield will be going to C.J. Prosise, who, I will admit, took me by surprise as a runner. As a receiver? He makes empty sets (pass plays where the QB is the only player in the offensive backfield) especially insidious. Troymaine Pope is back. It will be very interesting to see how touches are distributed behind Prosise, and just how close to 100% Rawls is. I really can’t overstate how much the game changes if Seattle finally gets a run game going.
THE QUARTERBACK: For the Eagles, Wentz has struggled a bit over the last three weeks, throwing for just one touchdown while getting picked twice and fumbling three times, losing one. He’s also taken seven sacks over the last three weeks, which isn’t many to a Seahawks fan. However, their offensive line doesn’t seem to pass protect as well on the road as they do at home. Cliff Avril and Frank Clark are probably drooling at this matchup. Damontre Moore has been impressive. He gets another chance to keep that going.
Russell Wilson looks to be about a week or so away from being himself completely on the ground, but in the air? He’s doing just fine. He’s done very well at pushing the ball down the field, and I expect a lot more of that to come, with the Eagles likely to devote extra resources to stopping Jimmy Graham, and Tyler Lockett being healthy. Speedster Paul Richardson should have his number called too. Frankly, I’ll take anything positive that doesn’t involve throwing to Jermaine Kearse right about now. Doug Baldwin pulled off the hat trick last Sunday (3 touchdowns), and I expect him to show up big at home too.
No predictions. Can’t you tell my nerves are bad?