Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles: Seahawks look to mount Super Bowl challenge from fifth seed
Marshawn Lynch scored a touchdown on his return to football last week. Photo: Doug Duran - Bay Area News Group

In the final match of wild card weekend the NFC East champion, Philadelphia Eagles (9-7 regular season) host the fifth seed Seattle Seahawks (11-5). 

The Philadelphia Eagles clinched the NFC East and fourth seed in the NFC playoffs with a 34-17 victory over the New York Giants last week.

The Seattle Seahawks, already guaranteed a place in the playoffs lost to the San Francisco 49ers at home 26-21. A win would have clinched the division and third seed, instead though they face an away game against the Eagles.

Winners of the NFL's weakest division

The Eagles have the unfortunate title of the winners of the NFL's weakest division. The Dallas Cowboys led the division for much of the season but their inability to beat teams with winning records as well as a week 16, 17-9 loss to the Eagles put the Eagles in the driving seat.

Although they are the winners of the weakest division it is worth noting that in the run up to the playoffs the Eagles have went on a four game winning streak to clinch the division. However, all of those wins came against their own division as they defeated the 4-12 Giants twice, the 3-13 Washington Redskins and 8-8 Cowboys.

Although the Eagles have home advantage the bookmakers don't respect their four game winning streak as they see the Seahawks as slight -1.5 favourites on the spread. However, the fact that the Eagles have had to play their last four games as if they were playoff games could prove to be the best preparation.

Injury crisis on offense

Unbelievably this game will be the first playoff match of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz career. He missed the Super Bowl win in 2018 after knee surgery and also missed last years playoffs with a back injury. 

That Wentz finally gets to play playoff football is a massive positive for the Eagles. However it is injuries to key playmakers on the offense that may take its toll in the end as the Eagles played last weeks match without seven starters on offense.

Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor are set to miss this game as well as Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks. The Eagles will be boosted though by the expected return of running back, Miles Sanders

Tight end, Zach Ertz and right tackle, Lane Johnson are listed as uncertain.

The resilience of the Eagles to continue to win despite so many injuries is impressive but, will the Eagles prove to be one step too far?

Seahawks, nine seconds away from division win

The Seattle Seahawks could count themselves unlucky to have to travel for this wild card game. With just nine seconds left in last weeks game against the 49ers they were inches away from a touchdown to win the game and clinch the division, third seed and a home tie instead.

When Seattle won the Super Bowl in the 2013 season and finished runner-up in 2014 they were number one seed both times. With last weeks loss they end up in the playoffs as fifth seed but, taking the 49ers all the way to the last game for the NFC West title should fill them with confidence that they could go all the way.

A 27-24 win against number one seed, San Francisco away from home in week 10 should also fill them with confidence that they could be the first team to win the Super Bowl from a wild card position since the sixth seeded 2010 Packers. 

Seattle were 7-1 away from home in the regular season with their only loss coming against the Los Angeles Rams in week 14.

Ending their season with two straight home losses, Seattle at fifth seed will be looking to build on their fantastic away form to mount a Super Bowl challenge, knowing they are highly unlikely to play at home in the playoffs.

Marshawn Lynch returns

Last weeks game saw Marshawn Lynch return to Seattle after just over a year out of the league. He rushed for a touchdown on his first game back and 34 yards from 12 carries. Used mainly as a goal-line threat last week it remains to be seen how much of an impact he will make with an extra week of practice in the books.

He will be going up against a Philadelphia rushing defense ranked third in the regular season giving up 90.1 yards per game.

With Philadelphia ranked 19th in the league against the pass, Seattle may see this as an opportunity to slowly blood Lynch in and rely on the arm of QB Russell Wilson who threw for 233 yards and two TD’s last week.

Prediction

On the face of it, Philadelphia on a four game winning streak with home advantage versus Seattle on a two game losing streak should be a fore-gone conclusion.

However, with too many injuries on offense for the Eagles, going against a team who almost beat the number one seed last week, who are arguably one of the stronger NFC teams despite their fifth seed and are 7-1 on the road, Seattle look to be too strong for the Eagles.

Seattle to win by between 7-12 points.

 

 

 

VAVEL Logo