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November 20, 2019

Eagles vs. Seahawks: Five matchups to watch

Coming off their frustrating loss to the New England Patriots last Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles will take on the Seattle Seahawks this week, a team that has won four straight games over them and has an MVP candidate in Russell Wilson.

Here are our five matchups to watch.

1) Russell Wilson's 30 different ways of beating you vs. the Eagles' defense

On the season, Wilson has 23 TDs, 2 INTs, a 8.4 YPA average, a QB rating of 114.9, and he has run for 256 yards and 3 TDs, while making a boatload of clutch plays in the fourth quarter.

"There's scrambling quarterbacks, there's running quarterbacks, there's drop-back quarterbacks, there's quarterbacks that are good from the pocket, there's quarterbacks that are good outside of the pocket, there's quarterbacks that can throw on schedule, there's quarterbacks that can create on their own," Jim Schwartz explained. "And he's all of the above.

"So I think that you layer all those things together, and it makes it a tough challenge. You have to defend perimeter plays like boots and play actions. You have to defend RPOs and zone reads. You have to defend off-schedule plays.

"But he can also be as good as anybody in the league when it comes to just dropping back and throwing it. He's very talented that way, and he can scramble not just for 1st downs, but he can scramble for big plays down the field. Just an excellent competitor, and it's a great challenge this week for us."

Here he is doing all of those things. Oh, and note that his receivers actually make some plays for him as well!

Wilson is arguably the best player in the NFL right now, and oh by the way, he has given the Eagles fits every time the Eagles have faced him:

Russell Wilson vs. PHI Comp-Att (Comp %) Yards (YPA) TD-INT Rating 
 201422/37 (59.5%) 263 (7.1) 2-0 99.3 
 201618/31 (58.1%) 272 (8.8) 1-0 97.8 
 201720/31 (64.5%) 227 (7.3) 3-0 118.6 
 TOTAL60/99 (60.6%) 762 (7.7) 6-0 104.9 

He has also rushed for 98 yards and a TD vs. Philly, and even caught a TD pass.

The Eagles would be smart to dedicate a spy to Wilson. One interesting option might be newcomer Genard Avery, who has filled something of a Joker role for the Eagles early on in his Philly career.

"He's a bit of a hybrid player, and when we got him, we needed to have a specific plan for the way we were going to use him," Schwartz said. "First week we used him just a little bit, used him a little bit more as a defensive end in this last game, but we've used him as a hybrid linebacker in there, also. He's done a nice job working really hard to make the most of his opportunities when he's been out there."

Kamu Grugier-Hill would also make some sense in that role. Last Sunday's game against the Patriots was Grugier-Hill's first without his knee brace, and he felt faster than he has at any point since he injured his MCL during training camp.

2) The Eagles' defensive line vs. the Seahawks' shaky offensive line

While the Eagles were only able to sack Tom Brady once last Sunday, they were able to get him off his spot with consistent pressure, leading Brady to throw more incomplete passes in the first half of a game than he ever has in his long career.

The Eagles will face another injury-weakened offensive line this week. The Seahawks' OL currently looks like this:

 Duane BrownMike Iupati Joey Hunt D.J. Fluker Germain Ifedi 

Hunt is a backup who has had to fill in for Justin Britt, who is done for the season with an ACL tear. Hunt is thought of as a good technician, but at 6'2, 300, with extremely short 30¼” T-Rex arms, he is player that a healthy Fletcher Cox should be able to feast on if he get the opportunity to do so.

If the Eagles can get pressure up the middle, that would be ideal against the similarly height-challenged Wilson.

3) The Seahawks' trio of gifted wide receivers vs. the Eagles' secondary

If you watched the above video of Wilson, you saw how many plays his receivers make for him. In Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, and Josh Gordon, the Seahawks have a trio of very talented, very fast receivers.

 PlayerHeight / weight 40 time 
 Tyler Lockett5'10, 182 4.40 
 DK Metcalf6'3, 228 4.33 
 Josh Gordon6'3, 224 4.53 

The Eagles' secondary has played well in each of their last three games, but the Bills, Bears, and Patriots' receiving corps are not as good or explosive as this one. 

"He's averaging 17 a catch, so that's been big for him and has a lot of yards," Schwartz said, when asked about Metcalf. "Not a lot of high-percentage plays. I think he's only somewhere slightly above 50 percent in targets to receptions or receptions to targets I guess I should say, but he is a big, strong guy, and he has good size to go up and get balls. He's also a guy that is extremely strong with run after the catch. So it's not just defending the deep balls. It's also tackling the short ones and stuff like that. 

"Lockett is a very impressive receiver, also. They added Josh Gordon. I think that they have some playmakers out there, and again, if we let our guard down for one second, they have a lot of guys that can make us pay with touchdowns."

The Seahawks' receivers will be a huge test for the Eagles' secondary.

4) Chris Carson vs. the Eagles' run defense

While the Seahawks' passing game will get most of the attention leading up to game day, it should be noted that they love to run the football. In fact, the Seahawks run it with more frequency (46.4 percent) than all but four teams.

Bruising running back Chris Carson is third in the NFL in carries, with 200 of them, putting him on pace for 320 this season. He complements Wilson's quarterback style well, in that defenses have to chase Wilson around, and then they have to deal with Carson running through them. A taste of what he can do:

The Eagles have been a good rush defense all season long, as they are fourth in rushing yards allowed per game (86.0) and rushing yards allowed per attempt (3.8). Also, Carson leads NFL running backs with 4 lost fumbles. He has 6 total fumbles this year.

5) Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert vs. the Seahawks' linebackers and safeties

Oh, yeah, I guess we should point out at least one matchup when the Eagles' boring-ass offense has the ball against the Seahawks' occasionally porous defense.

Only three NFL defenses have allowed more yards per game to tight ends than the Seahawks, who have allowed 51 receptions for 615 yards and 4 TDs to opposing tight ends.

This is a game in which the Eagles badly need production from Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert to step up.

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