Three Eagles Numbers That Matter For Seahawks Week

The Eagles face their toughest task of the season this week.

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

Here’s a look at three numbers that matter as the Philadelphia Eagles prepare to play the Seattle Seahawks this week.

2 – The Seahawks rank second overall in DVOA as determined by Football Outsiders.

The Eagles, meanwhile, are still No. 1. That makes this week’s game the DVOA Bowl. Oh, the intrigue!

It goes without saying the Seahawks are an extremely tough challenge for the Eagles this week. Seattle is 6-2-1. They just beat the Patriots in Foxborough despite playing on a short week.

The strength of the Seahawks has long been their defense. Seattle is allowing the second least points per game. Their defense ranks fifth overall in DVOA, second in sacks per game, and tied for sixth in yards per play allowed. One area where Seattle hasn’t been quite as dominant is when it comes to turnovers. The Seahawks’ 10 takeaways only rank tied for 19th. Still, this is a team with a lot of defensive talent and Pete Carroll is obviously one of the best head coaches in the league.

The Seahawks’ defense gets a lot of attention but their offense deserves a lot of respect as well. Russell Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Despite playing through injury, Wilson ranks eighth in passer rating this season. He’s thrown 10 touchdowns to only two interceptions. Wilson’s mobility has been hampered this year due to an injured ankle, but he’s getting healthier and his legs make him even more dangerous.

Seattle’s offense ranks 11th overall in DVOA. It ranks 14th in yards per play. Those numbers aren’t flashy, but the area where the Seahawks really stand out is when it comes to taking care of the ball. The Seahawks have committed a mere six turnovers this season. Only one team has less. The Seahawks’ cautious approach will be tested against a Philadelphia defense that ranks tied for sixth in takeaways with 16.

The Eagles’ defense should give Philadelphia a chance in this game. In some categories, they rank even better than Seattle. The Eagles hold an edge in DVOA, yards allowed per game, first downs allowed per game, third down % allowed, pass yards allowed per game, pass yards per attempt allowed, and takeaways.

The biggest challenge for the Eagles this week will be finding ways to muster points against Seattle’s defense. Philadelphia might need their defense and/or special teams units to put points on the board in order to escape Seattle with a win.

After running wild on the Falcons last week, it’s going to be hard for Philadelphia to rely on their running game again this Sunday. Seattle’s defense is only allowing 3.5 yards per rush attempt, which ranks third best. Their secondary might actually be a little more vulnerable. Seattle ranks 13th in yards allowed per pass attempt, so this could be a week where Carson Wentz needs to step up and help move the ball through the air.

5 – The Seahawks have only lost five out of their last 40 home games (including playoffs).

Those five games were lost by an average final margin of 5.4 points. Seattle hasn’t lost a home game by more than seven points since the 2011 season. Only two of the Seahawks’ last five losses at home have come to non-divisional teams.

Seattle’s home field advantage is very daunting. Doug Pederson, a Washington native who grew up as a Seahawks fan, spoke about the challenges of playing at CenturyLink Field.

“Going into this stadium, this 12th man – it’s real,” said Pederson. “The last time that I was up there was with the Eagles a few years back, and it’s a loud place. Those things are the things that keep your offense from executing and staying on the field, and this team definitely feeds off that and tries to get you into those second-and-long, third-and-long situations. The point of emphasis this week obviously is to be able to handle that and minimize those penalties.”

The Eagles are practicing inside this week to prepare for the record-breaking levels of noise they’ll have to deal with.

Seattle’s crowd noise could certainly be a significant factor this week. Philadelphia ranks near the top of the league in false starts. The Eagles have also had some issues with delay of game penalties, including two at home last week when there was no opposing noise to deal with. These errors don’t bode well for the Eagles’ outlook on Sunday.

Malcolm Jenkins talked about the mind-set required to play against Seattle.

“It’s definitely a frustrating place to play,” started Jenkins. “Especially if you’re not mentally ready to just persevere from start to finish. Rarely do you go in there and just have a great day. It’s going to be a tough environment. It’s going to be loud. They’re going to be dancing around. They talk trash. They have fun. If you make a mistake, it gets worse. It’s one of those things where you’ve got to go in with the mindset that you are going to hit some trouble. You’ve got to persevere through it and you’ve got to fight. Regardless of what the game looks like, regardless of how successful or unsuccessful you are, just keep swinging away.”

“I think the last year I was with the Saints we played them twice. The first was on a Monday night game and they flat out destroyed us, and we had no chance from start to finish. I remember the second time in going up there, it was the playoff game, and we really up there with no real intentions to worry about winning or losing. We were just going to go fight and see what happens. I think that game ended up being a little closer, we competed a lot better. They were the better team.”

“But that’s kind of the mentality you have to have when you go up there. Have confidence in yourself knowing that you can compete. But you gotta know there’s going to be some times in the game when their crowd is going to be loud. Their defense is going to be flying around, making some plays. You’ve just gotta continue to block out the noise and stay focused on the task at hand. Keep chipping away, keep fighting.”

It’s no secret the Eagles haven’t played their best football on the road this year. They haven’t been downright awful because the games have been close, but they’re still only 1-4 in away games. Getting off to slow starts has been a big issue for the Birds. Starting strong will be key for the Eagles in Seattle. It’ll even more difficult to battle from behind while playing in such a hostile environment.

62.3% – The Eagles’ playoff chances are still very much alive.

At least that’s what Football Outsiders indicates. FiveThirtyEight is less optimistic at only 37%.

Before going further, let’s recap the NFC East standings.

1 – Dallas Cowboys (8-1)
2 – New York Giants (6-3)
3 – Washington Redskins (5-3-1)
4 – Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)

The Eagles’ chances of winning the division are slim. The Cowboys appear to be running away at the top. It obviously doesn’t help that the Birds are 0-3 against their NFC East rivals.

With that in mind, the Eagles are still in the mix for a wild card spot. Here’s how the NFC playoff picture stacks up. The top six teams would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

1 – Dallas Cowboys (8-1)
2 – Seattle Seahawks (6-2)
3 – Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
4 – Detroit Lions (5-4)
5 – New York Giants (6-3)
6 – Washington Redskins (5-3-1)

7 – Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)
8 – Minnesota Vikings (5-4)
9 – Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1)
10 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5)
11 – New Orleans Saints (4-5)
12 – Green Bay Packers (4-5)
13 – Los Angeles Rams (4-5)
14 – Carolina Panthers (3-6)
15 – Chicago Bears (2-7)
16 – San Francisco 49ers (1-8)

The Eagles hold a potentially valuable head-to-head tie-breaker over the Vikings. The Eagles hold the same advantage over the Falcons, which is only valuable if Atlanta slips a little and another team rises in the NFC South.

Beating Seattle would obviously ideal for the Eagles, but it’s not necessarily a necessary game to have. Here’s the Eagles’ remaining schedule.

Week 11 – @ Seattle Seahawks
Week 12 – vs. Green Bay Packers
Week 13 – @ Cincinnati Bengals
Week 14 – vs. Washington Redskins
Week 15 – @ Baltimore Ravens
Week 16 – vs. New York Giants
Week 17 – vs. Dallas Cowboys

Four of the Eagles’ remaining seven games are at home. That’s good news for the Birds considering how dominant they’ve been at home; Philadelphia has outscored opponents 108 to 38 at Lincoln Financial Field this season.

If the Eagles can stay perfect at home and steal at least one game on the road, that should be good enough to qualify for the post-season. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but it’s hardly impossible.

Getting at least one win from Cincinnati or Baltimore should be possible. As far as the home games are concerned, the Packers haven’t looked great this year. The division games could be tricky but it’s worth noting Dallas might be resting their starters in Week 17.

There’s still plenty of hope for the Eagles. That hope will skyrocket if Philadelphia finds a way to pull off the upset in Seattle. If not, things might appear dim, but the season will still be alive.