derrick gunn

Eagles shifting focus to lessons from Seattle loss

Eagles shifting focus to lessons from Seattle loss

During the Eagles' nine-game run of success, it was almost becoming too easy. The last four games, they won by an average of 26.8 points. They encountered little resistance from the opposition. The competition providing nothing more than a practice game. 

But this past Sunday, they stepped onto the field of battle against a foe that could match them blow for blow. The Seattle Seahawks limped into this battle minus key personnel on both sides of the ball, but the most important element they still had was a winning pedigree. Double-digit wins the past five seasons, five straight years in the playoffs and two Super Bowl appearances. They know when the season turns to the month of December is when you turn up the intensity.

It's not like the Seahawks stymied the Birds because the Eagles racked up 425 yards of offense. They moved the ball well enough, they just couldn't finish what they started. The 24 points they gave up were the most allowed since Week 7 against Washington. An Eagles team that was doing most of the punching for nine games got punched back.

"The biggest thing for us is each guy has to answer to themselves: Did they prepare as well as they needed to? If the answer is yes, then you've got to live with the results, but it's definitely some mistakes we made we have to clean up," safety Malcolm Jenkins told me. "At the end of the day, we've lived and died with our preparations, and so if you feel good about how you prepared and what you've done leading up to this, then you can't get upset about the results sometimes that happens. It's been going our way all year but it doesn't change who we are, it doesn't change what we were doing. We've got to dive back into our preparation."

It's only one game, one loss. No need to panic. The Eagles are still very much in control of their own destiny. 

So they've moved on down the coast to face a Los Angeles Rams team that leads the NFC West with a 9-3 record, a Rams team one game behind the Eagles for conference playoff positioning. The Rams' offense is ranked fourth overall, averaging 372.7 yards, and its tied with the Eagles for the most points per game (30.1). 

Defensively, the Rams are tied for seventh overall in points allowed (18.5). Also, the Eagles are well aware that the Rams have already beaten the likes of Jacksonville and New Orleans. 

The Eagles can't do anything about the outcome in Seattle, but they can redeem themselves in Southern California. Wide receiver Torrey Smith said he thinks "it's better to lose now than later, obviously when it's one and done. Every game matters the most."

Right tackle Lane Johnson added that "usually in losses you really learn a whole lot. We'll go look at the film, learn from it, grow, and I think it will be a huge motivator for us."

Gunn on One: Rodney McLeod says Sundays are easy for Eagles' defense

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Gunn on One: Rodney McLeod says Sundays are easy for Eagles' defense

Defense wins championships, and right now the Eagles' D is playing at a championship level. Safety Rodney McLeod is one of the keys to the unit's success. He is this week's Gunn on One subject.

Gunner: This defense has been straight up balling. No. 6 overall, No. 1 rush defense, No. 3 in points allowed and No. 3 in takeaways. What is making this group so special?

McLeod: It's the way we prepare, how we practice. Doug (Pederson) always talks about making it easier on Sundays, and making practice harder, and that's what we do. We hold ourselves accountable no matter who you are, and we hold ourselves to a high standard. We are a prideful group, so the things we do on Sundays, we do out on the practice field. We stress turnovers, interceptions, stripping runners during practice, pursuit to the ball, all those things that you need to do to be a top defense in this league.

Gunner: You have faced mobile quarterbacks in Cam Newton and Dak Prescott, but this guy Russell Wilson takes extending plays to a whole different level.

McLeod: A guy like Russell Wilson ,who can extend a play anywhere from six to 12 seconds — it's pretty impressive. He's a general over there, he makes that offense go, so it's going to be critical for us up front to stay in our lanes and do whatever we can to get him on the ground. Pursuit, angles, we're gonna need everybody, and on the back end for us we have to have good eyes, and just be locked in every play. I think this week is going to test us out a lot.

Gunner: Is this season the most fun you've had playing in this league?

McLeod: It's got to be. ...  It's one of the best groups of guys I've been around. From the practice field to Sundays to off the field, we hang out a lot and you see it all unfold out here on the field. We're just playing for one another, and we're trying to do it for the city of Philadelphia, but also for each other. We put so much into it, so just to see the results we're getting right now is amazing. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but on this team.

McLeod is always insightful and entertaining. To see my extended interview with number 23, tune into Eagles Pregame Live Sunday from 7 to 8pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Eagles-Seahawks predictions

Eagles-Seahawks predictions

A win in Week 13 would be pretty special for the Eagles.

It would mark their 10th straight while clinching the NFC East.

But standing in the way are the Seahawks (7-4) and CenturyLink Field, a combination the NFL-best Eagles (10-1) will try to tackle on Sunday Night Football (8:30 p.m./NBC).

Can Carson Wentz and company punch their playoff ticket in Seattle?

Our experts provide their predictions:

Reuben Frank (11-0)
The Eagles have been blowing out teams so routinely lately it’s hard to remember what a close game feels like. It’s been a while. Sunday night, they face a team that certainly isn’t going to get blown out. The Seahawks have never lost a game by more than a touchdown under Russell Wilson, so most likely we will see an intense, taut game decided in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter.

But let’s be honest. The Seahawks are not who they used to be. With their injuries and changes, some of the intimidation factor is gone. No Marshawn Lynch. No Richard Sherman. No Kam Chancellor. Different team. And at home, where they were essentially unbeatable from 2012 through last year, they just lost to the Falcons and the Redskins.

So good game. Close game. Competitive game. But I see one team moving up into the NFC elite and one team that’s maybe moving out. Birds keep on rolling. Bring on the Rams! 

Eagles 27, Seahawks 26

Dave Zangaro (9-2)
I know Seattle is supposed to be a scary place to play and I know the Seahawks are supposed to be unbeatable there. But they're not. There's a reason Seattle has lost its last two home games: it's not that team anymore. 

Sure, it still has Wilson, who is really special. And it has Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner on defense, who are both fantastic. But this isn't the same team that won the Super Bowl. This isn't even the same team the Eagles faced last year in Seattle. 

And the Eagles aren't the same team from last year either. The Birds are the best team in football and they now have a chance to clinch the division on Sunday Night Football. They're going to do it. 

You have probably heard a lot about the Eagles' easy schedule this season, but they're a reason it looks so easy. They've beaten teams so bad that those teams have trouble recovering. And now those wins in L.A. and Carolina look much better. Add another quality victory to the list this weekend. The Eagles are going to prove their dominance. 

Eagles 31, Seahawks 21

Derrick Gunn (10-1)
Now we get to a game that means something. After four weeks of watching the Birds blow out lesser competition, they step up in a challenge against a foe that knows how to prepare for big encounters. The Seahawks have been to the playoffs five years in a row, including two Super Bowl appearances. The 'Hawks are hurting on defense — Sherman is out for the year, Chancellor has a neck injury and Cliff Avril is out, as well. But Seattle still has that guy Wilson, who has thrown for 23 touchdown passes this year — 15 of them have come in the last six games. Wilson is the master of the scramble drill and he has a versatile group of talented receivers. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles' secondary matches up with their personnel. 

Carson Wentz and his offense will be thoroughly tested by the Seahawks' defensive scheme. If the Birds can get their run game going, it will take a lot of pressure off Wentz in the passing game. A win for the Eagles in the loudest stadium in the NFL will go a long way in terms of preparing them for what's to come in the postseason. So many different ways this one could go, but I'm going with a hunch that Wentz learned some valuable lessons about how to play in that environment last year, and because this team is on a roll right now, I'll say Eagles.

Eagles 23, Seahawks 20

Ray Didinger (10-1)
There was a time when the Seahawks were unbeatable at CenturyLink Field. Remember the 12th Man Mystique? The crowd noise that made it almost impossible for a visiting team to run a play?

Well, CenturyLink is still loud but it is no longer an intimidating place. Why? Simple. The team isn't as good. Injuries have crippled the defense and with Lynch gone, it can't run the football. Wilson leads the team in rushing by almost 200 yards. He is the reason the Seahawks (7-4) are still alive in the playoff race.

The Seahawks have lost their last two home games and they haven't lost three in a row at CenturyLink since 2008. I'm sure the Seahawks will be ready to play on Sunday and the 12th Man will be at full roar, but right now the Eagles are the better team.

Eagles 28, Seahawks 21

Andrew Kulp (10-1)
Two weeks ago, the Falcons went into Seattle and tied a season high with 34 points against the once-vaunted Seahawks defense. It simply isn't the same unit without Sherman and Chancellor in the secondary, and I would expect Wentz to expose this weakness.

Wilson may be able keep the Seahawks afloat for awhile, but if the Eagles can score their weekly 30, they should be safe.

Eagles 34, Seahawks 21