The Eagles (10-3) will travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks (6-7) after losses to NFC contenders in back-to-back weeks.
Here are some key matchups to watch:
Eagles’ secondary vs. Seahawks’ receivers
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After watching the Eagles get roasted in their secondary the last few weeks (and really all season) this is a bit of a daunting matchup. There seems to be a good chance Geno Smith will return from a groin injury that sidelined him in Week 14 and he has a trio of receivers that are really dangerous with D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba:
Metcalf: 51 catches, 864 yards, 7 touchdowns
Lockett: 65 catches, 711 yards, 4 touchdowns
Smith-Njigba: 49 catches, 493 yards, 2 touchdowns
A.J. Brown’s college teammate Metcalf has had a few monster games this season and he’s been a thorn in the Eagles’ side before. In two games against the Eagles, Metcalf has 13 catches for 212 yards. In Week 12 of the 2020 season, Metcalf had 10 catches for 177 yards and did a lot of that damage against Darius Slay. According to PFF, Metcalf caught 8 passes on 11 targets for 158 yards against Slay in that game.
A few years later and it’s clear that Slay is still the Eagles’ best cornerback. While the Eagles have the No. 28 pass defense, Slay is far from their biggest problem. On the other side, James Bradberry is having a down year and is clearly not playing to the level we saw from him in 2022. Four of the Eagles’ five starters in the secondary are over the age of 30 and that has seemingly been a problem, although they have recently tried to inject some youth into the secondary with Eli Ricks, Sydney Brown and Kelee Ringo.
One more thing to watch this week is the health of safety Reed Blankenship, who suffered a concussion against the Cowboys on Sunday night. The extra day might help Blankenship clear the protocol.
Eagles’ tackling vs. Seahawks’ running backs
In recent weeks the Eagles have had some serious tackling issues pop up. There are likely some tangible reasons for these problems. It could be because some players on that side of the ball are gassed after playing a bunch of snaps in recent weeks. It could just be because the Eagles are playing some players who are really good after the catch and tough to bring down. But there’s still no excuse for some of the poor angles and blatant missed tackles we’ve seen in recent weeks.
The Seahawks aren’t a great running team. In fact, they are 28th in the NFL in rushing offense and 22nd in yards per attempt at 4.0. So this could be a get-right game for the Eagles’ run defense, which has allowed at least 138 yards in each of the last four games. The last four games have also been their four worst games in rushing defense. Something changed after the bye week.
Weeks 1-9: 66.3 yards per game (1st in NFL)
Weeks 11-14: 156.3 yards per game (29th in NFL)
The Seahawks have a two-running back system with Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet in the backfield. Walker this season has 634 yards and 6 touchdowns, while Charbonnet has 412 yards and another score on the ground. And both are decent threats to catch the ball out of the backfield. Both of these running backs are threats to run after contact and break tackles. Walker has 11 broken tackles on the season and Charbonnet has 9. While these two running backs are good, the Seahawks down seem to have the same type of horizontal running threats that the Cowboys and 49ers have.
Haason Reddick vs. Abraham Lucas
The Eagles have a really talented defensive line but it’s fair to say that unit hasn’t quite lived up to the very high expectations for them this season. They are getting some strong individual performances from guys like Fletcher Cox, Jalen Carter and Haason Reddick, but overall it probably hasn’t been consistent enough.
Reddick, 29, had a couple sacks against the Cowboys (one of them in garbage time) to get to double digits for the fourth consecutive season. He did it with the Cardinals in 2020, the Panthers in 2021 and the Eagles in each of the last two years. He’s the first Eagles player to have double digits in back-to-back seasons since Trent Cole.
A fun matchup in this game will be Reddick vs. right tackle Abraham Lucas. The 2022 third-round pick out of Washington State started the season opener and then missed a good chunk of the season with a knee injury. (During that span we saw some of our old friend Jason Peters at right tackle in Seattle). But Lucas returned in late November and has been back for two games now. He played the Cowboys and then the 49ers so that means he’s seen Micah Parsons and Nick Bosa in back-to-back weeks and things won’t get any easier against Reddick in Week 15. In the last two games, Lucas has struggled in pass protection against those great players, giving up 8 pressures in two games.
Overall, this isn’t a very good Seahawks offensive line. PFF ranks them as the No. 28 line in the NFL. While left tackle Charles Cross has been solid, the right side of the line hasn’t been great. They have Lucas starting at right tackle and rookie Anthony Bradford (4th-rounder from LSU) at right guard. The Seahawks have allowed 32 sacks this year, which puts them in the middle of the pack.
D’Andre Swift vs. Unimpressive run defense
The Seahawks have the NFL’s No. 28 defense this season and they haven’t been particularly good against the pass or the run. In terms of run defense, they are 23rd and they have given up 4.4 yards per carry. While their last three losses have come against the 49ers, Cowboys and 49ers — the two teams that just blew out the Eagles — they have given up an average of 159.3 yards per game on the ground in those games.
The Eagles, meanwhile, haven’t been able to run the ball very effectively as of late. They were stuffed early against the 49ers and abandoned it. They found a little bit of success against the Cowboys but then ended up down a bunch so they had to try to throw their way out of it.
Remember Weeks 2 and 3 when Swift had 175 and then 130 yards on the ground. His best game since then was against the Bills, when he had 80 yards on 14 carries in a game that went to overtime. And Swift also hasn’t been much of a factor in the receiving game either. He wasn’t targeted against the Cowboys and against the 49ers had just 2 catches for 7 yards. (The Seahawks have given up the 10th most receiving yards to running backs in the NFL this season.)
The problem hasn’t really been Swift. The Eagles’ run game hasn’t been as dominant in the trenches and their usage of Jalen Hurts as a runner has dipped so they’ve lost their numbers advantage. But even if the Eagles don’t have the +1 in this game with Hurts, they should be able to win up front and pick up chunks.
Mismatches vs. Jamal Adams
At this point in his career, Jamal Adams is a bit of a limited player, especially in coverage. Adams is liable to give up a deep ball if the Eagles can get behind him. According to PFF, Adams has been targeted 34 times and has given up 28 catches for 292 yards and 2 touchdowns in 9 games. Not awful numbers but he can definitely be had, like when Deebo Samuel beat him for a 54-yarder last week.
The Eagles are never hesitant to take deep shots but there’s a chance they might be able to hit one in this game. Aside from that, the Eagles should want to get Dallas Goedert on Adams in this game.
The Seahawks against opposing tight ends this season have given up 68 catches for 738 yards and 3 touchdowns. They’re the ninth-worst defense against opposing tight ends in the NFL this season.
A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith vs. Devon Witherspoon, Riq Woolen
The Eagles faced a good cornerback duo against the Cowboys last week with DaRon Bland and Stephon Gilmore and they’ll see another pretty good one this week with impressive rookie Devon Witherspoon and second-year player Riq Woolen. It’s worth nothing that the Seahawks do have the NFL’s No. 25-ranked passing defense but Witherspoon is definitely in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year. While Witherspoon missed last week’s game with a hip pointer, it sounds like he’ll be back for this one. Woolen had a great rookie season but has come back to Earth a bit in Year 2.
As good as Witherspoon have been, these corners don’t flip sides. Woolen plays right corner and Witherspoon plays left until they go to nickel and then he bumps inside and is replaced by Tre Brown. Brown also missed Week 14 with a heel injury but could return for this one.
The Seahawks will give up some deep shots too. They have given up 9 pass plays of 40+ yards this season — just four teams in the NFL have given up more. Three of those plays came against the 49ers this last week.