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The Seahawks and the Eagles are a tale of two different momentums. The Seahawks stumble into the playoffs, losers of three of their last four games. Despite them limping into the playoffs, here they stand, readying to take on all comers after losing a nail-biter to the San Francisco 49ers by mere inches.
Seattle will start what they hope is a Super Bowl run in Philadelphia against an Eagles team that just refuses to die. They have lost piece after piece of their arsenal down the stretch but despite that, they were able to win four straight games to win the NFC East.
Despite the Seahawks having the better regular season record, the Eagles will be hosting this game. The showdown in Philly takes place Sunday afternoon and with both teams having high expectations, there will be more than just a win on the line.
Keys To The Game
Russell Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He is even more dangerous when he is allowed to get outside the pocket. The onus this game will be on the Eagles’ defensive line, led by defensive end Brandon Graham, to keep him in the pocket.
The key thing for the Eagles front four will be to do what is called a “mush rush”, which means to rush the passer but stay under control while doing so as to not run past Wilson. If they can keep Wilson in the pocket and in front of them, it makes Wilson less effective. It may sound easy but Wilson is very elusive.
When he is locked in, Jadeveon Clowney can be a hugely disruptive force. He can rush the passer, shut down the run and just be an overall nightmare for your offense. Being that it is playoff time and he is looking for that next big contract, this could be the game he decides to turn it up.
Eagles’ offensive tackle Lane Johnson is expected to play in this game and he draws the task of taking on Clowney. It isn’t going to be an easy task, but he must give Carson Wentz some time or at least vary the different techniques he uses to block Clowney in order to throw him off rhythm.
The Seahawks’ defense has not been special this year, ranking below their usual standards in rush and pass defense. However, with Clowney active and causing havoc, they become scary.
The x-factor for Seattle is defensive end Ziggy Ansah. The Eagles are going to be missing Brandon Brooks at tackle this week and with Lane Johnson occupied with Clowney, Ansah could get loose.
He was brought in to rush the passer but has been battling injuries all season. In recent games however, he has shown signs of life. If he can turn it up in the playoffs, then that creates even more trouble for an Eagles’ offense that has been decimated by injuries.
The x-factor for Philadelphia is wide receiver Greg Ward Jr. The former University of Houston quarterback turned NFL receiver has proven serviceable for the Eagles this year.
With their rash of injuries at the receiver position, he can definitely step in and make some plays. With his ability to throw the ball, don’t rule out some trickery with him in the game. Because of his ability to line up in different spots and do different things, he could be a guy to watch in this one.
With all the injuries going on in Philly and the mystical play of Russell Wilson when it gets to clutch time, the Seahawks will eventually overtake the Eagles down the stretch. They’ll march on in the playoffs, 27-17.