December 01, 2017
Depending on where you looked, the Eagles opened this week as three- or four-point road favorite over the Seahawks. But as the week has gone on, that line has grown to six points in some places, including Bovada.
And, no, they didn't move the game Philly.
Just two weeks ago against Atlanta, the Seahawks (7-4) played their first game as a home underdog since the 2013 season, but this is the first time they opened as a home dog. Despite Seattle opening as a slight favorite against the Falcons, the line swung the other way throughout the week and by the time kickoff rolled around at CenturyLink Field, Seattle was getting a point from the Falcons.
The line proved to be right, as Atlanta won, 34-31.
Now, after losing just six home games over the previous five seasons, the Seahawks are 3-2 at home and on the verge of losing three straight there for the first time in almost a decade.
In order to avoid doing so, they'll have to beat the 10-1 Eagles. As a six-point underdog, the odds are not in their favor – and in a way the Seahawks probably aren't accustomed to. In fact, Seattle hasn't been this big of an home dog in over six years.
The last time came in 2011, the season before they drafted Russell Wilson. In the four seasons prior to drafting him, they posted a combined 15-17 regular season record at home. Since, however, they've gone 42-8 (including 5-0 in the playoffs) at CenturyLink Field.
SEAHAWKS AT HOME (SINCE 2012)
• 2012: 8-0
• 2013: 7-1 (2-0 in playoffs)
• 2014: 7-1 (2-0 in playoffs)
• 2015: 5-3
• 2016: 7-1 (1-0 in playoffs)
• 2017: 3-2
With a record like that, it's no surprise Seattle is unfamiliar with playing the role of home dog. But here we are, with the Eagles coming to town for a primetime matchup, and doing so as a six-point favorite.
"The most recent time that the Seahawks were this big of an underdog at CenturyLink/Qwest Field was Nov. 13, 2011 against Baltimore, when they were 6.5-point home dogs and ended up winning 22-17," said oddsmaker Allan Kingsley-Jones of OnlineGambling.lv. "Before that, you have to go back to their game with Atlanta on Oct. 2, 2011 (+6.5 again, lost 30-28). From 2014-2016, they were not dogs at home once."
Back in 2011, Andy Reid was in his penultimate season as Eagles coach – yup, it was the "Dream Team" season. Michael Vick was quarterback. Carson Wentz was in high school, throwing paper balls into trashcans, a far cry from leading the NFL in touchdown passes.
A lot has changed, but the Birds aren't taking their upcoming trip to Seattle lightly.
"[It's] still a good defense," said Eagles coach Doug Pederson, who was the QB coach in Philly back in 2011. "When I say defense, they've lost some key players over there and [are] still an aggressive front. Linebackers, I think, are – this is, again, I thought Carolina's backers were extremely good. These guys are extremely good. It's a great set of challenges for our offense.
"And then everything runs through their quarterback. He makes it go, and they feed off of that. His energy and how well he plays and some of the plays that he makes, they feed off of that. Obviously you've got the crowd noise, and it's a great atmosphere. Again, it's going to be a playoff-type atmosphere. Our guys have to have a good week of practice and prepare for that."
It's going to be loud. It's going to be hostile. But in addition to an improved roster, the Eagles are bringing something else with them this time around: experience. They've been there before – last November, they lost to the Seahawks in Seattle, 26-15 – so the decibel level of the dreaded 12th Man won't come as a surprise.
Were they able to learn anything else from that loss a year ago?
"Just that there's this reputation -- I'm sure for Carson and the other guys who hadn't been out there to play before, it's the reputation of going out to play in Seattle," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said, adding that CenturyLink Field is "among the most difficult" in the NFL for visiting offenses. "And then to go out there and say, ‘Okay, we can handle this.’ We didn't win the game and hats off to them, they're a good football team and they're tough to beat in their home stadium. We have a lot of respect for them. But we have a lot of confidence in the players that we have. And I think last year's experience there showed that we can handle the noise and not have 100 offsides penalties and it kind of contributes to more confidence going back this year."
The Eagles should also have more confidence because of the way they've been playing this year. They haven't just been winning, they've been dominant. And, as Kingsley-Jones points out, if you take the venue out of the equation, it shouldn't been surprising at all that the Birds are such heavy favorites.
"If you took away the team names and just looked at the rosters and stats, this Sunday’s line wouldn’t stand out," he added. "Seattle matches up terribly with this year’s Eagles: their brutal O-line will be facing arguably the best front-seven in the NFL; their banged up secondary will have to contend with the MVP favorite; and the Seahawks have already dropped two home games this season."
If the oddsmakers are right, it'll be three home losses come Monday morning.
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