Philadelphia Eagles (5-4 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Seattle Seahawks (6-2-1 SU, 5-4 ATS)
Week 11 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, November 20, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: PHI +6.5/SEA -6.5
Over/Under Total: 44
The Philadelphia Eagles come to CenturyLink on Sunday afternoon to face the Seattle Seahawks in a key NFC battle in the northwest. Seattle scored an uplifting Sunday Night Football win on the road over the New England Patriots, stuffing a late goal-line stand to emerge a 31-24 winner in a strong show of Seattle's full scope of power. The Eagles scored a 20-13 win over Atlanta and is now 5-4 and looking to make a run in the deep NFC East. They certainly face a daunting road trip this week in a faraway location against a Seattle that has lost only one of their last seven games.
Against New England, Seattle got some good performances from all phases of the game. Key was the performance of the offensive line. Granted, the New England front seven is dealing with issues of their own, but the front was in-check for most of the game, which is more than you can say sometimes about the Seattle O-line. It enabled Russell Wilson the time to pick his spots, as he was excellent in the air on 25-for-37 passing with 348 yards and three TD tosses. The run-game was OK and at least was able to create some positive plays here and there, as the Seahawks continue to struggle in the post-Marshawn Lynch era in finding a reliable ground producer. They do anticipate the return of Thomas Rawls, as he is scheduled to return this week, though won't be expected to pay off right away.
If Seattle can continue making progress through the air, their offense will be a handful. Tight end Jimmy Graham was a bit quiet against the Pats with just 48 yards receiving, but his rebirth this season has been key. CJ Prosise gained 66 yards on the ground, while catching 7 balls for 87 yards, as the rookie is becoming a bigger part of the offense. Doug Baldwin's three TD receptions were huge, as he's getting on a roll now too. Tyler Lockett made some big plays and we see an offensive identity forming. Whether it can be consistently applied is the key, as the Seahawks' offense doesn't always fire.
In the event that the Seahawks offense languishes, the defense is there to pick up the slack. On the road against the Patriots, they were victimized on occasion. But when the chips were down and the Pats were close with first and goal, this "D" stepped up. Having Kam Chancellor back in the mix was huge, as they've gotten generally healthier. They are second in the league in giving up just 17.6 points per game. They are a very clutch group and when called upon, they answer the call more often than not. At the same time, some more playmaking on this side of the ball would pay off nicely, as the Seattle "D" has picked off only 3 passes this season, while registering an inconsistent pass rush.
The Eagles have been topsy-turvy this season. They opened with three straight wins, before dropping two straight. They won once and then lost two more in a row, so the win over a good Atlanta team on Sunday was really positive. Hats off to the Philly defense for holding the powerful Falcons offense to just 11 first downs on the day, as they were really instrumental in manufacturing the win. They're the 6th ranked defense in the league and 5th in points allowed at 17.8 points per game. It's just not always clear which team you're going to get. Five times this season, they've held opponents to 15 or less points.
Carson Wentz has done well for a rookie. His offensive stockpile is pretty no-frills. He has an OK back in Ryan Matthews, who had his best game on Sunday with 109 yards and a pair of TD runs, aided by Wendell Smallwood adding 70 yards. Jordan Matthews, Darren Sproles, and TE Zach Ertz added some production through the air. They can run the ball pretty well, while they struggle aerially. And so far, the line has held up, despite being short two starters, including suspended tackle Lane Johnson.
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The defense is a big part of why the Eagles have made progress this season under first-year head coach Doug Pederson and his staff. They get a decent pass rush from Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, and Connor Barwin. Linebacker Nigel Bradham is a menace in the middle, while Malcolm Jenkins, Nolan Carroll, Jalen Mills, Rodney McLeod, and others hold it down in the secondary. You need to watch out for teams that run the ball well and play good defense. That used to be Seattle's recipe for success and while the Eagles have yet to approach that level, we see some things coming together for an Eagles team that hasn't had much to get excited about in recent seasons.
The location of this game is of some concern, as it's a long trip for the Eagles in enemy territory. At the same time, one can envision their defense making an impact in this game and knotting up the Seattle offense, or at least some of the time. It's a tough spot for Carson Wentz in this environment and against this defense. The Legion of Boom will be licking their chops, but I see a steady run-game and Philly's "D" keeping them in the mix. I'll take the points.
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