The Eagles are just a few days away from a crucial clash with the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. At 6-2-1, the former NFC Champions are priming themselves for a playoff run and will be bursting with confidence after a huge win against the New England Patriots. But through all of the underdog stories and focus on a rookie quarterback..this weekend will arguably the clashing of Titans, as the two best Defenses in the NFC square off.
Offensively, the Eagles and Seahawks have both suffered the same setbacks. From a weakened Offensive line to an inconsistent run game and lack of outside threats, both Offenses have endured rollercoaster seasons in which their quarterbacks have shined. But it’s the dominance on the other side of the ball that has propelled both teams into the playoff race.
From huge stops at the goal-line to game clenching interceptions, the Eagles and Seahawks have emerged as debatably the best Defenses in the NFC..and will battle for supremacy in front of the twelfth man on Sunday. But just how good have the Defenses been..and how close are they from a statistical perspective?
These Defenses are always poised for a big game..but a near identical set of Offensive setbacks makes the matchup even more interesting.
They may not be similar in frame, but Carson Wentz and Russell Wilson have similar playing styles. While Wilson has been one of the most reliable quarterbacks in the league this season throwing just two interceptions, he’s completed just 1.8% more passes than Carson Wentz (65%). The fifth year quarterback has a greater tendency to scramble and make things happen with his legs than Wentz, but that’s not to take away from the athleticism of the Eagles quarterback..who rushed for a 13-yard gain against the Falcons.
With both quarterbacks being so comfortable in the pocket and able to escape pressure quickly, the Defenses will be relied upon even more, knowing that the pocket simply has to collapse in order to marginalize two phenomenal athletes.
The Seahawks rank second in sacks this season with 29, while the Eagles are just four sacks behind with 25, ranking 6th..but once again, their success setting the edge and getting to the quarterback isn’t the only middle-ground they share.
Rodney McLeod has been nothing short of spectacular since signing with the Eagles during the offseason, recording 55 tackles, 3 interceptions and forcing a fumble..while Malcolm Jenkins has been making plays all over the field, filling in for Ron Brooks at the Slot position, killing the opposing run game. The duo along with the addition of Jaylen Watkins at Safety have not only been prolific as the last line of Defense for the Eagles, making crucial plays and big hits in clutch situations, but as Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz put it earlier, “they are the glue that holds this Defense together”.
It’s been a similar narrative for the Seahawks, with hard-hitting Safety Kam Chancellor once again having an incredible season alongside Earl Thomas. The intimidating pair are supported by the notorious Richard Sherman and a Linebacker Corps that seemingly only grows in strength.
In coverage, the Seahawks Linebackers are aggressive, fast and relentless..once again showing a similarity to the likes of Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham who have surged in performance as of late and continue to make their presence felt as dual-threat linebackers.
Both teams have excelled in getting to the quarterback..and with Offensive line play being a potential weakness for both teams, as well as a run game that is just as likely to surge as it is to sink..it’s a level playing field.
Numbers, home field advantage and any other narrative aside, this is a matchup where two of the fiercest and most rampant Defenses in the league will clash in one of the most intimidating stadiums in the NFL. The NFC’s top Defenses won’t just be fighting for a win..they’ll be fighting for Defensive supremacy over the NFC, looking to prove what every player on both teams believe. That their Defense is the best in the NFL. One of these units may just cement that claim on Sunday, the question is, which one?