If you haven’t heard, the Eagles play the Seahawks in Philadelphia this Sunday for a shot at (likely) San Francisco in the divisional round. The intro is going to be short and sweet so we can dive into the numbers surrounding the matchup. For all those statheads out there, this is for you.
Eagles’ Offense vs. Seahawks’ Defense
This is a matchup that could surprisingly favor the Eagles if they are able to play mistake-free football. Despite having a hodge-podge of practice squad receivers, Philadelphia can have some success through the air. It might be nothing but sheer luck, but the Seahawks’ weaknesses mostly play into the Eagles strengths.
Against all odds, the Eagles have managed 3833 net passing yards (11th), and their receivers have totaled 391 receptions on 613 targets for 4063 receiving yards. Carson Wentz has completed 63.9% (20th of qualified QBs) of his passes and has a 27:7 touchdown to interception ratio for a 4.4% touchdown rate. Even with a dearth of weapons, he’s averaged a QB rating of 93.1 (14th of qualified QBs).
The Seattle defense ranks 27th against the pass in terms of total yards, and has allowed a completion rate of 64% (21st). However, they allow a passing touchdown on only 3.2% of opposing passing attempts (5th). It has been that along with their ability to force opponents into turnovers that kept them afloat. The team has maintained a 2.7% interception rate (7th) resulting in an average opponent QB rating of only 85.6 (9th).
Line vs. Line
First, let’s start at the line of scrimmage. The Seahawks have struggled to generate consistent pressure all season, although they welcomed back Jadeveon Clowney last week, after being without him for a few games. Overall he’s been a good addition to the Seattle front seven but hasn’t been as effective as he was in Houston without such immense talent surrounding him. That may all change if he is able to step his game up in the playoffs.
As a whole, the Seahawks have caused 60 hurries (13th) and a 9.2% hurry rate (16th), but have failed to convert that into QB knockdowns or sacks. Their 38 knockdowns, 6.4% knockdown rate (28th), and 28 sacks, 4.5% rate (30th), are more reminiscent of reality. The team has also been stymied trying to generate pressure. Their 19.3% pressure rate ranks 28th, which is still better than the team’s 5.1% adjusted sack rate (30th). They may have to crank up the blitz to get to Wentz, which has not been their m.o. this season, bringing it only 26.9% of the time (19th).
They will face a banged-up Eagles offensive line that finished the season ranked 11th in adjusted sack rate (6.4%), but has given up 37 sacks (14th). Somewhat uncharacteristically, they have allowed 67 hurries (25th) and 53 knockdowns (24th) and a very average 2.4 second pocket time (19th). Some of that has come down to injuries and the corresponding personnel shuffling, but the Eagles O-line hasn’t been quite as dominant in pass protection as we are used to seeing. They have also faced a blitz on 184 pass plays (14th).
The team’s biggest liability will be on the right side of the line. Matt Pryor will start at guard and although he looked solid last week, has not been known for his pass protection. With Lane Johnson unlikely to go, Pryor will be book-ended by Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who has also shown cracks in pass protection. Luckily, they face a relatively passive Seattle Seahawks pass rush.
However, opponents have been able to take advantage of Carson Wentz’ long-winded throwing motion by getting their hands in the passing lanes — batting down 17 passes, 3rd most in the NFL. If Seattle is unable to generate pressure, they will undoubtedly try to capitalize by getting their hands up to disrupt passes.
Another one of the reasons for a bulk of those batted down passes is the Eagles quick passing game. Defenses predict an early throw and attempt to make it as difficult as possible. The Eagles’ 7.8 intended air yards per pass attempt ranks 18th, along with the 20th slot in completed air yards per completion (5.7).
For better or for worse, Carson has only thrown the ball away 10 times all season (4th fewest). His ability to scramble, which he did 28 times this season (12th) is a contributing factor. However, he wasn’t incredibly effective on scrambles, generating only 6.3 yards per attempt (22nd). He’s generally avoided bad throws, despite what the film and Eagles’ fans may suggest, averaging a bad throw on only 17.6% of his attempts (12th). However, he’s 25th in the league in on target throws at just 72.3%.
Seattle’s opponents average 6.7 net yards per pass attempt (23rd) and 6.2 net adjusted yards per attempt (17th). On top of that, their defense has allowed 11.5 yards per completion (21st), which is a very promising number for the Eagles.
Eagles starting receivers are far from household names and won’t generate a whole lot of hype heading into this matchup. Nevertheless, Carson’s supporting cast as a whole has been fairly decent. The group has accumulated 1589 yards after catch (13th), but only averaged a middling 4.1 YAC per completion. Philly has registered a drop rate of 4.8% (14th) and has generated 215 first downs through the air (8th).
In terms of guarding specific positions, Seattle’s defense has some glaring flaws. They have only allowed a very respectable 198 receptions (20th), 2483 receiving yards (13th) and 12 receiving touchdowns (11th) to receivers.
They have also kept running backs out of the end zone on pass plays, allowing only 3 receiving touchdowns to backs (3rd). However, their defense has let those same running backs amass 86 receptions (15th) and 817 receiving yards (29th), which is fantastic news for the Eagles electric backfield tandem of Miles Sanders and Boston Scott.
Seattle is even worse when defending against tight ends. While they have allowed only 6 receiving touchdowns to tight ends (14th), they are 31st in both receptions (97) and yards allowed (1099) to tight ends. Zach Ertz’ health will play a huge factor in this game. Either way, Dallas Goedert will see his fair share of targets.
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Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports