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December 13, 2023

Eagles at Seahawks: Five matchups to watch

Can the Eagles defense rebound? Can the offense get on the board?

Eagles NFL
121323DKMetcalf Steven Bisig/USA TODAY Sports

DK Metcalf is an Eagle killer.

The Philadelphia Eagles are in desperate need of a win after two blowout losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. Their Week 15 opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, are every bit as in need of a win, as they have dropped four straight after briefly leading the NFC West. Here are our five matchups to watch.

1) DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba vs. the Eagles' embattled secondary

The Eagles' pass defense has stunk at times this season (duh), but it's also fair to note that 10 of their 13 opponents this season have top-12 passing offenses. They've also had 4 games against teams in the top 3, and 6 games against teams in the top 6.

Team Passing yards/game 
Dolphins 279.2 
Cowboys 262.8 
49ers 262.7 
Texans 258.2 
Bills 256.9 
Chiefs 253.5 
Lions 252.8 
Vikings 246.3 
Jaguars 242.9 
Chargers 238.3 
Commanders 236.2 
Rams 234.9 

The Eagles shouldn't make excuses (nor have they) for their poor pass defense, and certainly they have to play a lot better or they'll be a quick out in the playoffs. But, there's context.

The Seahawks are yet another opponent that can be explosive in the passing game, and they have three talented receivers in DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Seahawks WRs Rec Yards YPC TD 
DK Metcalf 51 864 16.9 
Tyler Lockett 65 711 10.9 
Jaxon Smith-Njigba 49 493 10.1 

Metcalf is a 6'4, 235-pound ripped beast of a man who can out-physical smaller corners. He is the most dangerous of the three, and he has the best numbers among the Seahawks' trio of receivers so far in 2023, as you can see above. He has also been hot of late, as he has 23 catches for 410 yards and 5 TDs over his last five games. He nearly beat the Cowboys all by himself in Week 13.

In the past, Metcalf has taken a particular interest in punishing the Eagles. If you'll recall, in 2019, the Eagles drafted J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in the second round when Metcalf was still available, and he has used that as fuel against Philly ever since. 

"A place that had a chance to draft me, but they didn't so I gotta make them pay."

He has. In three career games against the Eagles, Metcalf has 20 catches for 372 yards and 1 TD.

Lockett is a very different receiver than Metcalf. He is more of a route-running savant with outstanding body control. They complement each other in a similar way that A.J. Brown (the big beast) and DeVonta Smith (the smooth, savvy guy) complement each other in Philly.

And then there's Smith-Njigba, a slick separation-creating slot receiver who outproduced Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson when he in college at Ohio State. He was the first receiver taken off the board in the 2023 draft, at 20th overall.

At some point the Eagles' secondary is going to have to win matchups against good receivers.

2) The Eagles' overused defensive line vs. the Seahawks' power backs

The Seahawks have a power running duo in Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet who win more with power than they do with explosive speed. Their numbers:

Seahawks RBs Rush Yards YPC TD 
Kenneth Walker 157 634 4.0 
Zach Charbonnet 95 412 4.3 

Walker is built like a bowling ball, but he has impressive shiftiness:

Charbonnet is more of a classic "one cut and go" runner, but he too can make defenders miss.

As my podcast partner Brandon Gowton pointed out in our last episode (and on Twitter below), the Eagles' defense has played a whole lot of snaps in recent weeks:

Walker and Charbonnet are the types of power backs who can exploit tired defenses.

3) Where might the Eagles go feastin'™️? 🍗

The Seahawks have one of the youngest offensive lines in the NFL. Ages in parenthesis:

Charles Cross (23) Damien Lewis (26) Evan Brown (27) Anthony Bradford (22) Abraham Lucas (25) 

Their average age is 24.6.

In the 2022 draft, the Seahawks selected Cross 9th overall, and Abraham in the third round. Both started from Day 1, and played well as rookies. In 2023, Lucas suffered a knee injury Week 1, and missed the next 10 games. Upon his return, he had to face Micah Parsons Week 13 and Nick Bosa Week 14. He understandably did not play well. He'll have yet another difficult matchup this week against Haason Reddick, who notched his 10th and 11th sacks on Sunday night against the Cowboys.

On the interior, Lewis and Brown are average starters. The potential weak link is Bradford, a fourth-round rookie who is filling in for regular starter Phil Haynes.

#FeastinMeter™️: 6/10 turkey legs 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗

4) Eagles TE Dallas Goedert vs. Seahawks S Jamal Adams

Adams has been a trainwreck on the field and off of it in recent weeks. On Sunday he got roasted down the field by Deebo Samuel:

And the week before he was overmatched in coverage against Jake Ferguson:

Goedert has only really had two big games so far this season.

  1. 8 catches for 117 yards and a TD vs. the Rams
  2. 5 catches for 77 yards and a TD vs. the Dolphins

This is a game where the matchups are right and the Eagles could really use a strong performance from their talented tight end.

5) The Eagles' disappointing rushing offense vs. the Seahawks' run defense

You can run on the Seahawks.

Seahawks run D Stat NFL Rank 
Rushing yards allowed / game 123.4 23 
Rushing first downs / game 7.2 25 
Rushing yards / attempt 4.4 24 
Rushing TDs allowed 17 29 

We haven't seen the Eagles' offensive line dominate in the trenches in the run game, since, what, like, September? They have certainly tried to run it, but that element in their offense just has not been very effective over the last few months, and has led to many a stalled drive. If they can get their run game going in Seattle, that should open up opportunities in the passing game, and perhaps help allow the defense to play a reasonable number of snaps.

The Eagles' last four games are against bad run defenses. It's one thing to be slowed by a team like the 49ers, but it will be especially alarming if they can't win up front against the Seahawks, Giants, and Cardinals down the stretch.

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