With the Eagles playoff date against the Seattle Seahawks looming this Sunday, a preview is in order. Let’s take a look at what the Eagles and Seahawks each have going for them in the Wild Card Round.
ESPN Football Power Index: 39.7% chance to win
FiveThirtyEight football playoff chances: 31% chance to win
Even though the Seahawks are coming into this game at 11-5 and 7-1 on the road, a lot of percentages have this as a very hard game for the Hawks. Coming off of a tough emotional lost against San Francisco, traveling cross country against a red hot Carson Wentz led Philadelphia Eagles, it appears to be a tough matchup for Seattle. But they do have a few things coming for them.
1. Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson has performed like an MVP candidate this season, topping 4,000 passing yards and throwing 31 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions, good for 3rd in the league in each category. Although Wilson has been an MVP candidate all season long, the last 5 games have been rough, staying below 300 yards and 3 touchdowns while losing 3 of the last 5. Given these numbers, the fact that Wilson has still led the Seahawks to a winning record every season he has been at the helm must be recognized. Wilson has lost his top 2 running backs and one of his favorite weapons in Josh Gordon. Through all of the injuries, Wilson’s ability to carry the team, in the regular season and in the playoffs, in past years must be recognized. In a one game scenario, anything can happen with Wilson in the game.
2. Tyler Lockett
In past years, Russell Wilson has not accumulated the passing numbers due to a rushing heavy offense that relied on the Legion of Boom defense to win games and Marshawn Lynch to punch in touchdowns. Now, with Tyler Lockett eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving, Wilson has a legitimate downfield threat who has shown he can consistently make plays when the game counts. Lockett has consistently seen 6-9 targets a game, leading to a career high catch percentage of 74.5%. With Carson Wentz leading a rag tag group of receivers with Zach Ertz being the only big receiving threat, Lockett provides an edge to Seattle in the big play category.
3. Turnover ratio
Playoff games, usually, pit two highly competitive and efficient teams against each other. In this case, the Seahawks clearly have won the turnover battle more consistently throughout the season, posting a +12 turnover ratio, compared to the Eagles -3 in that area. Carson Wentz has had a difficult time taking care of the football, fumbling 6 times and throwing 7 interceptions. Overall, fumbling has been an issue for the Eagles, with receivers and backs losing 9 other fumbles in 2019. If the Seahawks can be the team they have been all season and take care of the football, then they have a much better chance at winning and advancing to the divisional round.
ESPN Football Power Index: 60.3% chance to win
FiveThirtyEight football playoff chances: 69% chance to win
The Eagles finished the season at 9-7, but won their last 4 games en route to a hot finish and leapfrogging the Cowboys for a divisional title. With a high chance to advance into the divisional round after hosting a game in the city of brotherly love, the Eagles have a few things going for them in the Wild Card Round.
1. Carson Wentz
The Seahawks may have Russell Wilson, but the Eagles have their own man in charge, Prince Harry looking Carson Wentz. Wentz led the Eagles to key victories over the Giants(X2), the Redskins and the Cowboys in the last 4 weeks of the season. Wentz also passed 4,000 yards in the air this season, but did so with Zach Ertz being the leading receiver on the team at 916 yards, and no wide receivers passing 500 yards. Riddled with injury, Wentz has led the Eagles to the playoffs where anything can happen. In his house, with the crowd behind him in Primetime Football in his first playoff game, Wentz will have to prove that he can replicate his regular season magic in the postseason.
2. Miles Sanders
There are two ways that Miles Sanders could impact the game on Sunday. If he is healthy enough to play, his record setting combo of rushing and receiving will be dangerous for the Seahawks defense. With over 800 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards, Wentz’s favorite option out of the backfield could blow open the game against a defense that has looked vulnerable to screens in the last few weeks. However, if Sanders is out on Sunday, the Eagles chances to win decrease due to his explosive impact on the offensive side of the ball.
3. Zach Ertz vs Bobby Wagner
The man to man matchup of Bobby Wagner on Zach Ertz could very well define the game on Sunday. Ertz came into the game with 88 receptions, 916 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns, becoming a force on offense and becoming Carson Wentz’s safety blanket over the middle. Wagner has 159 tackles this season, anchoring the middle of the Seahawks defense for yet another year. If the Seahawks want to shut down the Eagles offense, Bobby Wagner limiting the Eagles by shutting down Ertz will be key to their success.
Overall, I believe in the Eagles, traveling cross country into a hostile enivornment will make life difficult for the Seahawks. The red hot Eagles will continue their success, in a game that probably won’t be close from the start. While I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles take a loss, the odds are definitely in their favor.