The fourth-seeded Eagles (9-7) are hosting the fifth-seeded Seahawks (11-5) in a Wild Card Round game on Sunday at the Linc.
To the predictions:
Reuben Frank (8-8)
A month ago, the Seahawks were 10-2 and had won five straight games and the Eagles were 5-7 and had lost five of their last seven. They were clearly two teams headed in opposite directions. Since then, the Seahawks have lost three of four, the Eagles have won four straight. These are both different teams than they were a month ago, and in the postseason I’m always going to go with the hot team. The Eagles have made their living the last few years playing their best football from December through February, and I don’t see that changing. Carson Wentz has another big game, a bunch of practice squad guys make big plays against a Seahawks defense that’s allowed at least 24 points in five straight games for the first time since 2006, and the Eagles’ defense — best in the league at home — bottles up Russell Wilson enough that the Eagles roll onto the conference semifinal round for a third straight year.
Eagles 27, Seahawks 23
Dave Zangaro (9-7)
I know the Eagles haven’t exactly beaten great teams in the last month but they seem to have their swagger back at just the right time. Meanwhile, the Seahawks just lost a heartbreaker and were that close to getting a first-round bye. Now, they have to fly across the country and play one of the hottest teams entering the postseason. Doug Pederson always has his team ready to play late in the season and I’m very excited to see what Carson Wentz will do in his first playoff game. If he plays the way he has the last five weeks, the Eagles should be able to take care of business at home as long as the defense doesn’t get roasted.
Eagles 24, Seahawks 20
Derrick Gunn (8-8)
After Week 13, Seattle was 10-2 and the Eagles 5-7. But so much has changed since these two last saw each other. The similarity has been both squads have been crippled by injuries. The big difference: the Seahawks limped to the finish line, losing 3 of their last 4, while the Eagles closed out on a four-game winning streak. Carson Wentz put an offense filled with rookies, practice squad players and backups on his shoulders and willed them to the playoffs. The defense buckled down and made the necessary plays. Wentz has been much more effective moving outside of the pocket. Young backs Miles Sanders and Boston Scott have given the run game a much needed jolt.
Seattle comes to town down its top three running backs and is hoping Marshawn Lynch can dust off the cobwebs and run like the Marshawn of old. Russell Wilson is still as dangerous as ever and until about a month ago was considered the odds on favorite to win the MVP award. The longer Wilson is upright and bouncing around it will give his favorite targets Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf more opportunities to shake free. Seattle has 55 pass plays of 20 or more yards. Lockett has 15 of them, Metcalf 13. Giving up big pass plays has been the Eagles pass defenses’ Achilles heel.
Brandon Brooks is gone for the season. Question marks remain about the availability of Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, and Sanders. Seattle’s defense can be run on and passed against. I feel the Seahawks are the perfect test for playoff untested Wentz and his cast of young pass catchers. Eagles got to Wilson six times in Week 12 and getting pressure on the playoff savvy signal caller is going to be huge in terms of getting Seattle’s offense off the field. The Linc will be rocking and the Eagles will roll to a nail biting win.
Eagles 27, Seahawks 24
Ray Didinger (7-9)
The Seahawks are 11-5 but they have outscored their opponents by just seven points (405 to 398). They are a winning team, but by the slimmest of margins. They won two games in overtime and two others by one point. On the flip side, they lost three times by double digits including a 27-13 loss to Arizona just two weeks ago.
The Seahawks beat the Eagles at the Linc in November but it was another tight one (17-9) on a day when the Eagles offense — and Carson Wentz in particular — played very poorly. The Eagles turned the ball over five times but they still stayed in the game until Rashaad Penny broke a 58-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks came into that game hot (they were on a 6-1 roll) and the Eagles were in a funk. Now the Seahawks are sliding (1-3 in their last four games) and the Eagles have won four in a row. Momentum is huge going into the post-season and the Eagles have it.
Eagles 20, Seahawks 17
Andrew Kulp (10-6)
Momentum is so important in the NFL, and the Eagles have all of it right now. Only three teams enter the postseason with a longer winning streak (Ravens, Packers, Chiefs), while the Seahawks are losers in three of four. Carson Wentz is suddenly playing like an All-Pro again, while Russell Wilson hasn't looked like an MVP-caliber quarterback for the last two months. Both teams are banged up, only the Eagles appear to be getting used to the hand they were dealt and the Seahawks are still scrambling to fill holes or rush guys back.
Like the Cowboys game two weeks ago, if it were merely a matter of talent, I'd probably lean Seattle here. Yet everything I've seen tells me the Eagles are the better *team* at this precise moment in time. Add in homefield advantage and their knack for embracing the underdog role, and it's about time the Eagles snap that five-game losing streak to the Seahawks. Every wild card round, there's one game all the experts get way wrong, and this is going to be it — then it's off to San Francisco.
Eagles 24, Seahawks 21