4:25 PM ET, December 7, 2014
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
Game Balls: Seattle at Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Eagles have taken command of the NFC East behind improvement in the ground game and on defense.
Dominating those facets remain the calling cards of the Seattle Seahawks, helping them regain control of their fate in the NFC West.
Both teams are coming off easy Thanksgiving Day wins over division rivals, leaving former Pac-12 coaching foes Pete Carroll and Chip Kelly extra time to prepare for a compelling encounter in their first NFL matchup Sunday when Seattle visits Philadelphia.
Hours after Kelly's team rolled to a 33-10 holiday victory in Dallas, Carroll's club manhandled San Francisco in a 19-3 win. The Eagles (9-3) grabbed a share of the league's best record, and the Seahawks (8-4) moved within a game of West-leading Arizona but defeated the Cardinals four days earlier and play them again in Week 16.
"We had a really nice Thanksgiving around here," Carroll said Monday. "... Our players had a nice ballgame and a nice break here, too, getting ready for this week. So we're in good shape and looking forward to a terrific matchup. Exciting time of year."
With middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor recently returning after missing time with injuries, Seattle's vaunted defense appears to be getting even stronger. That unit, allowing a league-low 285.8 yards per game after also ranking No. 1 last season, has surrendered two field goals and an average of 184.0 yards in the past two games.
Richard Sherman had two interceptions against the 49ers to earn NFC defensive player of the week honors after Chancellor won it for his eight-tackle effort against Arizona.
"We're having a good time. We're dedicated to one another right now," Sherman said. "When you're on the field playing for one another, we're playing like some 9-year-old, 10-year-old kids, not worried about the outcome, not worried about individual stats or anything like that. ... When a team's playing like that, we're really hard to beat."
However, the offense the Seahawks face Sunday is more formidable than the ones they've recently shut down. Whereas Arizona and San Francisco are among the bottom-third of the NFL in total yards, Philadelphia ranks fourth in that category (416.2 per game) and in scoring (31.2).
The Eagles have topped those averages in the last two games as LeSean McCoy totaled 289 yards rushing. He's averaged 6.3 per carry in that span, compared to 3.7 through the first 10 games, while doubling his season total of 100-yard games to four.
"I think when people talked about him (negatively) earlier in the year, I felt very confident with him. I think that is showing," Kelly said of McCoy, whose 6,491 career rushing yards leave him 48 shy of passing Wilbert Montgomery as the Eagles' all-time leader.
The Seahawks have held four of their past five opponents under 65 yards rushing, and they've forced 11 turnovers in the past six. They're 5-1 in that span while limiting opposing quarterbacks to a 65.0 rating, with only Eli Manning throwing for more than 200 yards.
"You (can't) spend too much time worrying about one guy, they have so many playmakers," quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "... We're gonna have our hands full, gonna have to really turn it up."
Sanchez was 9 of 22 for 124 yards in his only matchup against the Seahawks and Carroll, his former college coach, in a 28-7 loss with the Jets in 2012.
Kelly handed Carroll one of his worst losses at Southern California in their only collegiate matchup in 2009. Oregon won 47-20 against a fourth-ranked Trojans team and totaled 613 yards -- the most ever gained on one of Carroll's USC defenses.
"They're really explosive. They've got a real style about them," Carroll said of Kelly's offense. "You have to mention Chip, and his concepts and approach, when you talk about this offense because it is what he has constructed over the years. It's innovative and it's well run and designed beautifully."
Likewise, the Eagles should have their hands full with Seattle's top-ranked rushing offense (168.6 ypg). While Russell Wilson has run for nearly twice as many yards (679) as any other quarterback, Marshawn Lynch is fifth in the league with 956 and leads with nine touchdown runs.
Lynch, approaching his fourth straight season of 1,000 yards and 10 TDs, has surpassed 100 yards in three of the past four weeks.
Philadelphia, though, has steadily gained confidence against the run with averages of 90.3 yards allowed and 3.6 per carry over the past seven games. The Eagles held NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray to 73 yards on 20 attempts on Thanksgiving -- he ran for 115 against Seattle on Oct. 12.
Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis, though, said "nobody runs the ball harder" than Lynch.
"It's nice that we're facing those two big downhill runners back to back. We know what it's about," Davis said. "It takes a swarm tackle. You can't arm tackle Marshawn Lynch. It's got to be a full body swarm with all the effort to the ball."
Success in the ground game often limits Wilson's drop-backs. He's had 22 attempts in back-to-back weeks, completing 32 without an interception, but was also sacked 11 times.
That could be a problem against a Philadelphia pass rush which has an NFC-best 42 sacks, including a conference-high 12 1/2 by Connor Barwin.
He's had 10 1/2 in the last four games at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles have won 10 straight in the regular season.
Lynch rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-14 win in 2011 in these teams' last matchup. Seattle has played only three games in Philadelphia over the past 25 years and won them all.
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|Avg Points Allowed||1.1||1.8|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||SEA|
|Rush Yds Allowed||SEA|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Seattle leads 4-3|
|Dec 1, 2011||SEA 31, PHI 14|
|Nov 2, 2008||SEA 7, PHI 26|
|Dec 2, 2007||SEA 28, @PHI 24|
|Dec 5, 2005||SEA 42, @PHI 0|
|Dec 8, 2002||SEA 20, PHI 27|
|Sep 23, 2001||SEA 3, PHI 27|
From Elias: The Eagles are running a play every 22.8 seconds of possession, which is the fastest in the league. Since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, that would be the fastest by any team over a single season
The Seahawks have allowed a league-low 31 plays of 20-or-more yards this season and are tied for the fewest TDs of 20-or-more yards allowed with 3.
LeSean McCoy needs 47 Rush yds to tie Wilbert Montgomery's Eagles all-time rush yards record. He has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games but has never had 3 consecutive 100-yard rushing games in his career. He would be the 1st Eagles player with 3 straight 100-yard rushing games since Brian Westbrook in 2006.
Seahawks WR are averaging 10.9 yards per reception, the 2nd-lowest rate in the NFL this season. But they do have the 3rd-best reception pct this season at 67.9%
The Seahawks are averaging 5.34 yards/rush, which leads the NFL and would be the 5th-highest rate by a team over the last 10 seasons. No Seahawks team has ever averaged 5.0 yards per rush over an entire season
The Eagles run a play on average every 22.8 seconds of possession, the fastest in the NFL. The Seahawks run a play on average every 30.8 seconds of possession, the slowest in the NFL.
The Eagles run plays every 22.8 seconds of possession, the fastest in the league. The Seahawks run plays every 30.8 seconds of possession, the slowest in the NFL.
Over the last 3 weeks, the Seahawks defense has been on the field for an average of 48.7 plays per game, 2nd-fewest in the NFL over that span. Since Week 8, the Seahawks have a +8 turnover margin, tied for 2nd with Bills in the NFL over that span (Texans at +9 are better)
The Seahawks have allowed fewer than 10 points in back-to-back games and 3 times overall this season. Since 2012, they lead the NFL with 12 games surrendering single-digit point totals.
Mark Sanchez has a Total QBR of 81.0 on play-action passes. From 2009-13, Sanchez's QBR on those plays was 43.4, which was 27th out of 28 qualifying QBs in that span
Over the last 3 weeks, the Seahawks defense has been on the field for an average of 48.7 plays per game, 2nd-fewest in the NFL over that span
Mark Sanchez was able to hit Jeremy Maclin for a TD on a screen pass early in the game, but he was able to complete only 5-of-11 attempts to him and Jordan Matthews on the day. Sanchez had only 2 completions more than 5 yards past the line of scrimmage Sunday. He was 2-of-8 on those passes with a TD and an Int. Russell Wilson went 13-of-20 with 2 TD on those throws Sunday.[+]
Think the Seahawks defense is back? The Eagles had by far their worst offensive performance under Chip Kelly in Sunday's loss to Seattle.[+]
Eagles Offense - Sunday vs Seahawks
The Seahawks look like themselves on defense. They've won 3 straight games, holding their opponents to season lows in points and yards in each of the past 3 weeks.[+]
Seattle Seahawks Defense Past 3 Weeks
The Eagles ran 45 offensive plays Sunday and only 4 went for 10+ yards. Only the Jets (3) had fewer 10+ yard plays in a single game this season. The Eagles were averaging nearly 16 plays of 10+ yards per game entering the week (15.7).
Marshawn Lynch's 3rd quarter receiving TD was his 4th this season. Lynch had 5 receiving TD in the first 7 years of his career.
The Seahawks dominated possession Sunday as the Eagles offense struggled to get anything going. The 18:04 of possession for the Eagles was the 4th lowest in a game this season, and 2nd lowest for the Eagles (17:43 in loss to 49ers). The Seahawks averaged 6.5 plays per drive Sunday. The Eagles longest drive was 6 plays (done 3 times). The Eagles had 3 drives that lasted more than 2 minutes and 3 drives that lasted fewer than 30 seconds. The Seahawks had only 1 sub-minute drive and had 8 drives take up 2+ minutes.[+]
Offensive Comparison Sunday
Russell Wilson won his 33rd career game Sunday, tying him with Dan Marino and Matt Ryan for the most wins by a quarterback in their first three seasons in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).[+]
Zach Ertz's 3rd quarter TD reception was the 11th allowed by the Seahawks to a tight end this season. That's tied for 2nd most in the NFL.
LeSean McCoy (PHI): 3rd fumble lost this season (he had 1 all of last season)... The Eagles led the league with 28 turnovers entering the day.
ESPN Stats & Information