7 reasons the Eagles will beat the Seahawks this time

7 reasons the Eagles will beat the Seahawks this time

A mere six weeks ago, the Seahawks defeated the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, in a game that never felt as close as its final score, 17-9. In fact, Seattle has won five straight meetings dating back to 2011. What makes anybody believe the playoffs will turn out any different, other than blind faith? 

Quite a bit, actually.

The Seahawks are heading back to Philly favored by a point or two, not to mention the trendy pick for bettors and experts alike. Yet, much has changed since the last faceoff, for both squads — and it’s the Eagles who appear to hold the momentum this time around. 

The Seahawks are backing into the playoffs

While the Eagles enter the postseason riding a four-game win streak, the last month has not been nearly as kind to Seattle. The Seahawks have lost three of their last four, getting blown out by the Rams and Cardinals (neither of whom have plans in January) and dropping a close one to the top-seeded 49ers in Week 17. Even their W over a terrible Panthers squad was way closer than it should’ve been. 

This is far from a dominant opponent we’re talking about here. 

They’ve also been eviscerated by injuries

The Eagles aren’t ones to talk in this department, as Brandon Brooks is the latest to land on injured reserve, and Zach Ertz is up in the air for Sunday

Fortunately for the Eagles, Miles Sanders is ready to return.

But the last few weeks have been particularly awful for the Seahawks — so bad at running back, for example, where Pro Bowler Chris Carson and former first-round pick Rashaad Penny were lost, that the team was forced to bring Marshawn Lynch out of retirement.

Left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Mike Iupati, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and linebacker Mychal Kendricks are among the players who hadn’t practiced this week as of Thursday and, at the very least, may not be 100 percent for the game. 

The injuries on both sides level the playing field. It may even be somewhat advantageous for the Eagles, who have been shorthanded for so long that they appear to be used to it now. 

Jordan Howard, others back for Eagles

And while the Seahawks are largely down key contributors from the previous meeting, or at least unsure whether they’ll be ready and effective on Sunday, the Eagles are gaining reinforcements. Jordan Howard will be a big boost in the run game, and Lane Johnson has a chance to play this week as well. Those are potential game-changers. 

The Eagles’ offense found its identity

The Eagles are scoring a touchdown more per game since their first meeting with the Seahawks. Guys like Jay Ajayi, Jordan Matthews and Mack Hollins were playing significant snaps in November but are now on the street, while the likes of Boston Scott, Greg Ward and Joshua Perkins have emerged as playmakers for the offense. 

Carson Wentz has his swag back

A big part of that is Carson Wentz’s stunning return to MVP form. Most people probably believed he still had this type of run in him, but nobody thought he’d be playing at this level with the talent surrounding him. 

Through the Seahawks game, his worst of the season, Wentz was completing 62.6 percent of his passes for 230 yards per game and 6.5 yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. In the five games since, he’s 66.2 percent for 301.8 yards per game and 6.9 yards per attempt with 10 touchdowns and 1 interception. Massive difference. 

And Russell Wilson looks ordinary

To be fair, Russell Wilson’s slide began before playing the Eagles, but the bottom line is he hasn’t looked like an MVP-caliber quarterback the second half of the season. 

Weeks 1 through 9, Wilson was the frontrunner for the league’s biggest individual award, completing 68.3 percent of his passes for 278.3 yards per game and 8.5 yards per attempt with 22 touchdowns and 1 interception. In the seven games since, he’s completed 63.2 percent for 229.3 yards per game and 7.2 yards per attempt with 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions — not to mention 26 sacks. The guy is beatable. 

The Eagles are at their best as underdogs

Everybody is betting against the Eagles. Sound familiar? It’s been the story of the postseason the past two years, and each time, this team showed up — obviously winning a Super Bowl in 2017, but also nearly advancing to the NFC Championship Game a year ago. 

For whatever reason, this group seems to thrive in the us-against-the-world role. And while some might be quick to point out Nick Foles was previously at the helm, Wentz has already overcome the odds just by getting the team to this point after a 5-7 start. The Eagles do not quit. In fact, they feed off the energy of everybody shouting they will fold.

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1980 Super Bowl tickets and more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Points

1980 Super Bowl tickets and more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Points

Inflated Super Bowl ticket prices, your favorite Eagle who wore No. 21, an Eagles draft trend and much more in this weekend's edition of Roob's 10 Random Offseason Eagles Points!

1. Maybe he’ll be another Byron Maxwell, another Nnamdi, another DRC. I have a good feeling about Darius Slay, though. I think the Eagles may have nailed this one. The price in draft picks wasn’t too high, and his contract is big but it’s also smart and along the lines of what top corners are getting and has an out after three years. Maybe he’ll be another cornerback bust. There’ve been enough of those. But with his personality and his confidence and his playmaking ability, he reminds me of Asante Samuel, who was the last elite corner the Eagles have had. I remember the day the Eagles drafted Tra Thomas in 1998, he shouted into the phone during a conference call, “I’m not going to be another Eagles first-round bust!” Slay all but guaranteed the same thing. I could be wrong, but I think this time they got it right.

2. Doing some research this week I found a preview story on Super Bowl XV between the Eagles and Raiders from Jan. 25, 1981, by a legendary sports writer and cartoonist Murray Olderman that included this line: “Defense makes all coaches salivate but doesn’t do much to excite the guy paying that inflated $40 ticket (up from $10 last year).” Imaging having to pay an inflated $40 for a Super Bowl ticket! Outrageous.

3. Zero interest in Brandin Cooks. 

4. The last Eagles quarterback to throw the first pass of the regular season and the last pass of the postseason was Michael Vick in 2010. The last Eagles quarterback to start and finish 16 regular-season games and finish a playoff game was Donovan McNabb in 2003. Only 17 years ago.

5. It’s just weird to me that Halapoulivaati Vaitai gets a five-year, $45 million contract just a few hours into free agency, and here we are three weeks later and Jason Peters is still unsigned. I get that Big V is younger, but he’s started four games over the last two years and as we’ve all seen, he isn’t the world’s most consistent lineman. J.P. has been banged up, and he’s 38, but he has started 32 of 35 game the last two years. And let’s be honest: Even at 38 he’s way better than Big V. I wrote the other day about some of the reasons Peters is still on the street. But I’m still surprised. It might not be till after the draft till he finds a home, but I still feel like he’ll be playing somewhere next season.

6. The Eagles have drafted nine Pro Bowlers in the first round since 1990, and six of them were linemen — Fletcher Cox and Corey Simon on defense, and Lane Johnson, Tra Thomas, Jermane Mayberry and Shawn Andrews on offense. The exceptions are Lito Sheppard, Donovan McNabb and Carson Wentz.  

7. I’m fine with the Eagles not landing a receiver in free agency. But, man, they better land the right guy in the first round of the draft. And the second or third round. They simply can't afford to mess this up.

8. The first-round running back trend really tells you a lot about the way the NFL game is changing. As more and more running backs fail to be productive over a number of years and limp out of the game at a young age, first-round running backs have become more and more rare. Only 16 were drafted in the first round this past decade, less than a third of the number taken in the first round during the 1980s and half as many as the previous decade. In the last seven drafts, only nine of 223 first-round picks were running backs.  

2010-2019: 16

2000-2009: 32

1990-1999: 34

1980-1989: 50

9. Interesting to compare Dallas Goedert’s first two seasons in the NFL with Zach Ertz’s:

Ertz: 94-for-1,171, 7 TDs

Goedert: 91-for-941, 9 TDs

10. On our last Eagle Eye podcast, Dave Zangaro and I were talking about Ronald Darby, and Dave asked what player I think of when I see jersey No. 21. I immediately answered … Joselio Hanson. But in all seriousness, it’s Eric Allen. My theory is that we associated jersey numbers with the first player that stuck out to us when we first started watching the Eagles. I think of 55 as Mike Reichenbach, not Brandon Graham. I think of 96 as Clyde and not Derek Barnett. And I even see No. 20 and think of Andre Waters and not Dawk. If there’s nobody significant that wore that number in the 1980s, it’s different. No. 36 is definitely Brian Westbrook (and not Robert Drummond, Stanley Pritchett or Michael Zordich). And No. 27 will always be Malcolm Jenkins (and not Siran Stacy, Eric Zomalt or Norman LeJeune. But for all the numbers that were worn by key guys the last few years of the Buddy Era, that’s where my brain goes. I can’t help it.

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Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey dies after battle with coronavirus

Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey dies after battle with coronavirus

Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey died on Saturday of complications from the coronavirus. Dempsey was 73.

Dempsey contracted the coronavirus in March at the Lambeth House, a retirement home in New Orleans, and is one of at least 15 residents to die from the virus, according to The Times-Picayune.

Dempsey was an Eagle from 1971-1974, but also played for the Saints, Rams, Oilers and Bills.

Born without fingers on his right hand and toes on his right foot, Dempsey was known for his small flat kicking shoe. That shoe now resides in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

“Tom's life spoke directly to the power of the human spirit and exemplified his resolute determination to not allow setbacks to impede following his dreams and aspirations,” Saints owner Gayle Benson said in a statement. “He exemplified the same fight and fortitude in recent years as he battled valiantly against illnesses but never wavered and kept his trademark sense of humor. He holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Saints family."

The year before he joined the Eagles, Dempsey gained fame by kicking a 63-yard field goal to give the Saints a last-second 19-17 win over the Lions at Tulane Stadium in 1970. It broke the previous NFL record for longest field goal by 7 yards.

That was the NFL record for 43 years until Matt Prater hit a 64-yarder in 2013. Others had tied the record but it took over four decades to beat it.

In his four seasons with the Eagles, for whom he played the longest, Dempsey kicked in 47 games and made 66 of 108 field goals (61.1%). He also made 84 of 90 point-after attempts. Dempsey is 18th on the Eagles’ list of all-time scorers with 282 points.

Dempsey retired to New Orleans where he began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent in 1969. He had been battling dementia since 2012. 

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More on the Eagles