On Sunday morning, the Seattle Seahawks took Lincoln Financial Field to face the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have seen a fair share of success this season, entering the contest at 5-5, but they’ve also struggled with key injuries. In fact, on Sunday, wide receivers Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Desean Jackson, and running back Jordon Howard were all kept off the field.
Responding to this depleted flock, the Seahawks pressed their advantage and walked away with a decisive 17-9 victory over the Eagles.
In a season where winning the NFC West might require a 13-3 record, the Hawks notching their 9th win was critical, but it was also fascinating—both in terms of what it revealed about the Hawks and how it impacts the division overall.
The Seahawks knocked off the Eagles, nabbing their 6th road win and pushing their record to 9-2 on the season. This win further cemented their place in the playoffs while diminishing the Eagles’ hopes of doing the same.
Along the way, the Hawks played a surprisingly sloppy brand of football, turning the ball over two times, only earning 14 first downs, committing 12 penalties at a cost of 90-yards and allowing quarterback Russell Wilson to be sacked six times. Additionally, Wilson made an uncharacteristic overthrow intended for tight end Hollister that would’ve been the easiest touchdown of the year.
And yet, the Eagles were worse. In addition to the Eagles turning the ball over five times, quarterback Carson Wentz looked incapable of finding anyone to throw the ball to, except for star tight end Zach Ertz. The Hawks’ defensive line was able to apply consistent pressure, usually with only four rushers, empowering our ball-hawking defensive backs to clip the Eagles wings.
NEXT MAN UP
The Seahawks found their path to victory by following their time-tested adage and looking for the ‘next man up’ to fill any roles vacated by injury or demotion. This week, there were Hawks on both the offense and defense who took on larger roles and contributed to the team win.
After an extraordinary game dismantling the San Francisco 49ers two weeks ago, defensive end Jadaveon Clowney was sidelined in Philadelphia with a hip concern, sparking questions about the effectiveness of the team’s pass rush. Fortunately, Ziggy Ansah delivered a solid game, racking up three solo tackles, two QB hits, and contributing to one-and-a-half sacks. Along with Quinton Jefferson, Poona Ford, and others, the Clowney-less defensive front was ferocious against the Eagles. And it was glorious.
On the other end of the playbook, Rashaad Penny saw an increased snap-count on Sunday for the offense. After his early-game carries yielded good results—and running back Chris Carson fumbled the ball twice in two plays—it was all but assured that Penny would carry the bulk of the remaining workload. Carson was re-inserted into a shared version of the team’s ground attack before the day was done, but Sunday was Penny’s lucky day. Moving forward, I hope the Hawks continue to utilize both running backs, spelling each other from over-use and offering a tough dynamic for opponents to defend.
ROAD TO DECEMBER
Flying home with a 9-2 record places the Seahawks within striking distance of the postseason, but things aren’t locked up yet. Not even close.
With the 49ers thumping the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, the NFC West is as fiercely contested as ever. Moreover, the Los Angeles Rams were demolished by Lamar Jackson and his Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night, effectively dooming any last hopes the Rams had been clinging to about making the playoffs.
Quick note about Jackson; his stunning, five-touchdown game against the Rams—combined with Wilson’s flat game against the Eagles—has fully vaulted him to the front of the MVP competition. There are still plenty of games left for Wilson to retake the frontrunner position, but right now it’s Jackson’s to lose.
With the 49ers and Seahawks both charging full-speed-ahead towards divisional dominance, all eyes fall upon their final game of the season. That week 17 showdown in Seattle could (if things continue to break the right way) become a single game that decides not only a divisional winner, but also who has a playoff BYE week and who must go on the road to face another NFC opponent.
Between now and then, however, both teams have four games to play and if either team falters but a little, things could be decided before that fateful December night at Century Link Field.
Next up for the Seahawks, a home game against the playoff-minded Minnesota Vikings where the 12s will be out in force, attempting to yell, scream, pray, and will this magical season one step closer toward postseason glory. And I believe the Hawks will win.
Additionally, I believe the 49ers will go on the road against the Ravens and lose, squaring both franchise’s records at 10-2 and sending the NFC West into a full-on frenzy.
One can only hope. Go Hawks!