HAWKS SOARING HIGH DOWN THE STRETCH


December 7th, 2014- After two dominating performances against the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers the Seattle Seahawks will try to continue the trend against the Philadelphia Eagle this afternoon at 415pm ET. The critics were out when the Seahawks lost to the Kansas City Chiefs and not even making the playoffs let alone repeating as NFC champions with a record of 6-4. Arizona was coming into Century Link Field with at the time was the best record in the league at 9-1  and if the Cardinals were able to win could of sealed the deal in ending the season for the Seahawks. It was a must win game.  In the game against the Chiefs the defense gave up the most rushing yards all year to Jamal Charles. Against the Cardinals they faced another challenge with another explosive and versatile running back in Andre Ellington. With all the critics, adversity, and doubt Seattle put on a defensive clinic holding the Cardinals to less than 300 total yards. No doubt the return of Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor contributed to the shutdown defense we’ve been accustomed to seeing. Even though the Cardinals win was a much needed one, it was almost an expected win since it was a home game. Now they had to go on the road on Thanksgiving day to play against the San Francisco 49ers. The short week didn’t effect the defense at all as they beat the 49ers the same way, a total beat down by the defense. The 49er offense produced less than the Cardinals four days earlier. I think its safe to say that LOB is back and it couldn’t come at a better time. Today’s game would yet be another test in this brutal schedule the Seahawks are playing.

There are so many story lines in todays game. Throw in all the cliches: “Speed vs strength, running the ball vs passing the ball, offense vs defense, east vs west.” Yet theres also some off the field story lines as well: Chip Kelly vs Pete Carroll and Mark Sanchez vs Pete Carroll. The Seahawks have to things going for them agains the high powered Eagle offense: 1) Seahawks have been able to play well against no huddle offense most notable against the Denver Broncos, twice to be exact. 2) Since 2012 they have the best December record in the NFC at 8-2. Even though the teams don’t play against each other every year they are more familiar with each than you would think because of the head coaches. Kelly and Carroll both faced each other in college when Kelly was with at University of Oregon and Carroll was at USC. Both coaches have brought their style of play from college to the NFL. The Eagles will run their offense and the Seahawks will run their defense, it will come down to who can execute the best  to win the game. No question it will be a fantastic game but what is also interesting will be the reunion between Carroll and Sanchez. Carroll coached Sanchez at USC (actually beat Kelly and Ducks) but many have said that when Sanchez left early from USC there was bad blood between the Trojans. During the press conference Carroll said Sanchez was making a mistake of going to the NFL early, “Mark is going against the grain.” When the two was about the “supposed feud” both said there was no such thing and the two has kept close contact with each other over the years. Said Sanchez, “Pete is a great coach and a father figure to me.” That being said somewhere down deep theres nothing more Sanchez wants than to beat his former coach who doubted him.

KEYS TO THE GAME: 1) Seattle must keep fresh bodies in the game. As fast as the Eagles snap the ball and how they’ve had success against Denver, Philadelphia is a completely different kind of a beast. They run plays in the high 70’s per game one every 27 seconds. To keep up the pace the substitutions have to made just as fast. 2) Make Sanchez beat you. Even though the Eagles score points in bunches they also lead the league in turnovers. If the Seahawks can force Sanchez to make poor decisions and make him try to throw into tight windows LOB will have plenty of opportunities to force some turnovers. 3) Seahawks must trust their run game. The Eagles defense has been stiffling lately. Many times this season when the run game hasn’t been effective early Darrell Bevell has abandoned the run game. Seattle cannot afford to do that in this game. Philadelphia is the league leader in sacks and Seattle can’t allow Russell Wilson to get pounded and taking hits for the stretch run. 4) Seattle offense must convert in the red zone. They have only scored 2 touchdowns in the last two games. As dominating as the defense can be no one is expecting the Eagles to be shutout in this game. If Eagles score less than 20 points that would be a stellar defensive performance. In order to win the game I predict Seattle has to score at least 23 points.

INJURIES: Jeremy Lane (nickel defensive back) has a glute injury and  will be a game time decision, Cooper Helfet (tight end) has a ankle injury and will be a game time decision, and Max Unger (center) is still out with knee and ankle injuries.

ROSTER MOVE: Chris Matthews was signed off the practice squad to the 53 man roster.

PREDICTION: Seahawks 24 Eagles 20

 

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