The Eagles (3-6-1) are hosting the Seahawks (7-3) on Monday Night Football with a chance to pull off an upset and reclaim first place in the NFC East.
Here are five matchups to watch:
D.K. Metcalf vs. Darius Slay
Trying to slow down Metcalf will be a job for the entire Eagles’ defense but the bulk of that work will fall on Slay, who will likely travel with Metcalf on Monday night.
“Slay has generally been good handling guys like that, whether it's -- I mean, you name it, A.J. Green or any of these other guys that he's been matched up on. He has those long arms and he can poke balls away and things like that,” Eagles DC Jim Schwartz said.
“It's a great challenge for us. It's not just getting him covered, it's tackling him. You have to defend every inch of the field with a guy like that. They can just throw a zero hitch to him, zero meaning it’s a zero-yard route and just get him the ball and he's hard to handle. He's strong and fast and he’s like a linebacker, so you have to get him tackled on that stuff. He also has the speed to be able to go deep. It's a great challenge for us.”
The Eagles faced Metcalf twice last season. In the regular season, he didn’t do too much damage but in the playoff game, he roasted them. Metcalf went off for 7/160/1. Of course, the Eagles didn’t have Slay for that game.
But Metcalf also hadn’t reached his peak. Because this year, he’s arguably become the best receiver in the NFL. We won’t spend too much time here rehashing JJAW/Metcalf, because you’re already thinking it and that isn’t about this matchup.
Metcalf (6-4, 229) has taken a huge jump after an already impressive rookie season. The one area where Schwartz has seen the most improvement is the relationship between Metcalf and Russell Wilson. Metcalf truly understands how to play with his Hall of Fame quarterback.
This season, Metcalf has 48 catches for 862 yards and 9 touchdowns. He doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon.
Tyler Lockett vs. Avonte Maddox and NRC
While Metcalf has taken a huge step in Year 2, it has made Lockett more of a forgotten man. But Lockett is still really good. The sixth-year pro is actually on pace for a career season. Through 10 games, he has 67 catches for 748 yards and 8 touchdowns, so he’s on pace for a 107/1,197/13 season, which would be by far the best season of his career.
And if Slay is tasked with following Metcalf, that means we’re going to see Maddox and Nickell Robey-Coleman on Lockett on Monday. This season, Lockett has actually gotten more snaps out of the slot than he has out wide so he’ll see some Maddox and Robey-Coleman on Monday. Both players have struggled this season.
This is what makes the Seahawks passing attack so dangerous. If you try to take away Metcalf or Lockett, the other guy will make you pay. We’re talking about two legitimate No. 1 receivers.
Russell Wilson vs. Eagles’ run defense
It’s hard to believe but Wilson will turn 32 on Sunday. But even now that he’s over 30, he’s still a big threat to take off running. In fact, he already has 367 rushing yards and a touchdown through 10 games. So he’s on pace for the second-biggest rushing season of his NFL career.
"He’s a QB who takes what you give him," Brandon Graham said. "So if you’re playing man and your backs are turned toward him and he can get away and get some yards, he’s definitely doing that. But he’s mostly looking downfield on his scrambles really good. ...He’s a top five QB in the league. This guy can beat you with his legs and his arm and he has great receivers to get it to.”
As we already know about the Eagles, they have actually been pretty good at stopping opponents’ running backs on the ground, but everyone else has given them issues, especially quarterbacks.
Of the top five individual rushing performances against the Eagles this season, three of them have come from quarterbacks:
Nick Chubb: 114 yards
Lamar Jackson: 108 yards
Daniel Jones: 92 yards
Darrell Henderson: 81 yards
Daniel Jones: 64 yards
The Eagles will have to be disciplined on Monday. The problem of course is that even if they are able to cover down the field, it’ll open opportunities for Wilson to run on them. Russell Wilson has never lost to the Eagles and he has averaged 31.6 rushing yards per game against them. In the playoff game last year, he had 9 rushing attempts for 45 yards.
Carson Wentz vs. Seahawks’ pass defense
While the Seahawks have one of the best offensive attacks in the NFL, they have given up a ton of yards and points this season. Seattle is 28th in points allowed and 32nd in yards allowed.
But the Seahawks are also fourth in rushing yards allowed so they’re giving up a ton through the air. They have the NFL’s 32nd-ranked pass defense. They have given up an average of 343.7 yards per game. In recent weeks, they’ve been better in this area. They have given up over 300 passing yards just once in the last four games.
Still, there’s some opportunity for Wentz to turn things around on Monday night.
Jordan Mailata vs. Carlos Dunlap
After Jason Peters gave up 3 sacks, 3 QB hits and 7 pressures in just 47 snaps before leaving the last game with an injury, he's moving to right guard, according to our John Clark. That means Mailata is back in the starting lineup at left tackle.
Meanwhile, since getting traded to Seattle, Dunlap has three sacks in three games. He had two last week against the Cardinals. Dunlap is 31 yet but it looks like the move to Seattle’s defense has given him some extra juice. He already has the same number of pressures (13) in three games with the Seahawks that he had in seven games with the Bengals. Dunlap plays on both sides of the line but if Peters is out there, the Seahawks would be smart to target him. (But Lane Johnson is banged up too, so that right side is something to watch also.)
This is obviously the second time this season the Eagles will see Dunlap. In Week 3, he had 4 pressures, 9 tackles, a QB hit, a TFL and a batted pass.
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