The City of Brotherly Love anxiously awaits the arrival of the Seattle Seahawks as they will take on the Philadelphia Eagles on "Monday Night Football." It will be the third straight meeting between these two teams at Lincoln Financial Field with the Seahawks winning the last one in the NFC Wild Card game last January by a score of 17-9 after winning the regular-season matchup by the same score of 17-9 back on Nov. 24, 2019.
When you draw up the ideal winning formula for the Seattle Seahawks (7-3) it entails a balanced offensive approach, playing with swagger on defense, and not backing down from any opponent. Pete Carroll's team executed this formula to a tee last Thursday night, beating Arizona 28-21 in a critical NFC West showdown. Russell Wilson took care of the football, staying turnover-free while completing 23 of 28 passes for 197 yards with two touchdowns. Carlos Hyde injected some much-needed life into the rushing attack with 79 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. Carlos Dunlap II capped off a very good night for the defense, sacking Kyler Murray on fourth down with 34 seconds left. Dunlap has ignited this pass rush with 3.5 sacks since being traded from Cincinnati and the Seahawks as a team have collected 13 sacks over the last three games.
Philadelphia (3-6-1) has lost two in a row and now trails Washington (4-7) for first place in the watered-down NFC East. Last Sunday, the Eagles dropped a 22-17 decision to the Browns as Carson Wentz' season-long struggles continued. Wentz completed 21 of 35 passes while tossing two more interceptions and taking five more sacks, a microcosm of Philadelphia's offensive struggles in 2020. The Eagles also only converted two of their 12 opportunities on third down. Fans are calling for head coach Doug Pederson to make a change at quarterback, but he has remained steadfast in his commitment to Wentz rather than turning the reins over to rookie Jalen Hurts. The offense's issues overshadowed a solid performance by the defense, which held Cleveland to 324 total yards and limited the Browns' ground game to 3.4 yards per carry.
Monday Night Football: Seattle at Philadelphia
Kickoff: Monday, Nov. 30 at 8:15 p.m. ET
Spread: Seahawks -4.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Seahawks' commitment to offensive balance
Starting running back Chris Carson is on track to return this week to join Carlos Hyde in forming a 1-2 punch that should do well against Philadelphia's 26th-ranked rushing defense. The weather also is expected to be a bit of a factor so that would be further motivation for Carson and Hyde to get things rolling right away to buy time for the passing game to get settled in. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will be tested against a pass defense that's allowing 209.3 yards per game, good for fifth in the NFL. If Russell Wilson can stay patient and pick his spots to get the ball to Metcalf and Lockett along with tight end Will Dissly over the middle it will get the Eagles on their heels and make it harder for them to stack the box to try and stop the run.
2. Philadelphia's offense vs. Seattle's defense
Carson Wentz will need to take what the Seahawks' defense gives him this week and not force unnecessary plays when they are not there. One way to avoid getting into tough situations would be for head coach and play-caller Doug Pederson to emphasize the running game. The Eagles are currently averaging 4.9 yards per carry and Miles Sanders (5.7 ypc) has provided a spark in his first two games back after missing a month because of injury. In the days leading up to the win over the Cardinals, Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. led an accountability meeting with his defense that sparked the unit's best performance of the season. The Seahawks limited Kyler Murray and the Cardinals' offense to 314 total yards, which was their lowest output of the 2020 season in large part because of that highly productive meeting. Looking ahead to Monday night, you can expect this rejuvenated defense to attack Wentz all night long as the Eagles have surrendered a league-high 40 sacks so far this season.
3. Seahawks' offensive line vs. Eagles' pass rush
The most important mission for the offensive line this week will be keeping Wilson relatively upright. Brandon Graham leads the Eagles with seven sacks to go along with 11 tackles for a loss. It's no secret that Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will scheme pressure looks early and often as the Eagles rank second in the NFL in sacks with 34. It's going to be imperative for Seattle's front line to play assignment-sound football and not let Graham or anyone else run wild and get to Wilson. The Seahawks have surrendered 33 sacks, which ranks 30th overall in the league. Some of this can be attributed to the injuries in the backfield, which has forced Wilson to pass more, but pass protection remains an issue. The fewer hits Wilson takes in the pocket on Monday night, and definitely the fewer times he ends up on the turf behind the line of scrimmage, the better Seattle's chances are of winning this game.
Seattle should come out of the gates flying after getting a few extra days to recover from last Thursday's win over Arizona. The defense should continue to improve thanks to the addition of Carlos Dunlap and the return of guys like safety Jamal Adams from injury. Russell Wilson should be able to avoid Philadelphia's aggressive pass rush enough times to make plays down the field. The Seahawks should be able to move the ball and put enough points on the board to outscore a struggling Eagles offense. Philadelphia will put up a good fight, but they don't have the firepower to match up with Wilson and company. Seattle takes care of business on the road, covers the spread, and most importantly, ensures that it stays at the top of the ultra-competitive NFC West.
Prediction: Seahawks 33, Eagles 20
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Parler @Scottwhittum