It’s not a matter of whether the Eagles are better than the Seattle Seahawks in 2017 — they are. It’s only a question of how much better the Eagles are.
That’s how much the landscape of the NFL has changed in the span of roughly two months. With a 10-1 record and riding a nine-game winning streak, the Eagles are the hottest team in the league and routinely show up with superior talent at every single position on the field. The 7-4 Seahawks are a perennial Super Bowl contender, but as the injuries have begun to mount over the course of the season, they appear increasingly vulnerable.
Seattle still has an extremely competitive team, and by no means are they going to be pushovers the likes of what the Eagles have faced in recent weeks. That being said, even with the game being played at CenturyLink Field, it’s fairly obvious which team holds the true advantage.
Let's take a deeper look.
The Seahawks and the Eagles are a case study in how important a supporting cast can be to a quarterback. Russell Wilson is responsible for 81.8 percent of Seattle’s total offensive production and an astounding 96.3 percent of the team’s offensive touchdowns. Carson Wentz is responsible for 66.2 percent of the Eagles’ production, 75.7 percent of the scoring and he’s considered the frontrunner for league MVP. That hardly seems fair. Wentz has better numbers and more wins, but Wilson essentially is going it alone this season. All things being equal, the two of them are probably somewhat equal.
Seattle’s leading rusher — behind Wilson, of course — is on injured reserve and hasn’t played since Week 4. It’s Week 13, and none of Eddie Lacy, J.D. McKissic or Thomas Rawls has managed to reach 200 yards on the season. Jay Ajayi’s 194 yards since joining the Eagles are more than any active Seahawks back, and he’s been with the Eagles all of three weeks.
Overwhelming advantage: Eagles
Wide receivers and tight ends
A surprise breakout season by 2014 second-round draft pick Paul Richardson gives Seattle one of the deepest receiving corps in the NFL. Richardson is second on the team with 584 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 16.7 yards per reception. The Seahawks now have the deep threat to accompany possession wideout Doug Baldwin and red-zone weapon Jimmy Graham. The Eagles’ top three targets — Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor — have almost identical production as a group, so it’s tough to make a case for one over the other.
This is written here every week, but must be reiterated until the unit starts getting the respect it deserves: The Eagles’ offensive line is one of the best in the league. Yes, even without Jason Peters. By contrast, Seattle’s O-line is one of the shakier groups. A mid-season trade with the Texans for Duane Brown strengthened the left side, but the right side is a mess. To make matters worse, right guard Oday Aboushi has been ruled out Sunday night with a shoulder injury.
Clear advantage: Eagles
Defensive lines and linebackers
Released by the Eagles in July, Marcus Smith is now playing significant snaps for the Seahawks, which says a lot. Headlined by Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson, Seattle's defense is still stout against the run and can get after the quarterback, but the front four’s best pass rusher, Cliff Avril, is on injured reserve. The Eagles boast the league’s No. 1 run defense and are tied for seventh in the league with 31 sacks. The Seahawks may have a slight edge at linebacker in Bobby Wagner, but certainly not as an overall unit.
Cornerbacks and safeties
Injuries have altered the once formidable Legion of Boom beyond recognition. With Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor out for the season, Earl Thomas is the group’s only surviving member. Things are so bad, the Seahawks are now relying on a significant contribution from Byron Maxwell. After a bit of a bumpy start, the Eagles secondary has steadily improved each week and has become one of the most opportunistic units in the league. Opponents’ passer rating of 74.0 ranks third in the NFL.
Aside from dangerous return man Tyler Lockett, Seattle’s special teams aren’t anything to write home about. Jon Ryan is a steady punter, and the coverage units are solid. Yet the Seahawks insist on employing Blair Walsh as the kicker, so it’s all a wash. Jake Elliott just snapped a streak of four consecutive games with a missed field goal or extra point for the Eagles, although the Birds' kickoff coverage has been suspect of late. That may play to Lockett’s advantage.
Slight advantage: Eagles
Pete Carroll doesn’t get enough credit for being quite possibly the second-best coach in football after Bill Belichick. Carroll has been to the playoffs eight of 11 seasons as an NFL head coach and has a Super Bowl win to his name. Plus, he guided USC to back-to-back National Championships and seven straight top-four finishes. Doug Pederson is having a tremendous year, but has a long way to go to even so much as compare resumes.
Largely as a result of injuries, the Seahawks are not the defensive powerhouse of previous years, and certainly not in comparison to the Eagles. Offensively, Seattle can put up numbers through the air, but the lack of any real ground attack, plus a patchwork offensive line, makes for an inconsistent team all around. The Eagles are the more well-rounded team at this point in the season, and that’s not something a more experienced head coach or home-field advantage is likely to change