Here we go again.
For the second year in a row, the Seahawks will head out on the road to open the playoffs against an NFC East opponent. Last year, it was a trip to Dallas — and the Seahawks’ earliest playoff exit in seven previous postseason appearances under Pete Carroll.
This week, the Seahawks are flying to Philadelphia for the second time in six weeks, with an opening-round playoff game against the Eagles. Kickoff is set for 1:40 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
In eight road games, the Seahawks (11-5) won a franchise-record seven of them this season.
Five things to know about the Eagles this week:
1. Week 12 rewind
Russell Wilson played perhaps his worst game of the season in a 17-9 victory at Philadelphia on Nov. 24. He completed a season-low 13 passes, on 25 attempts, with one touchdown, one interception and one wild incompletion over the head of wide-open tight end Jacob Hollister in the end zone.
The Seahawks’ defense, meanwhile, played perhaps its best game against the Eagles, forcing a season-high five turnovers and keeping Philadelphia out of the end zone until a garbage-time score with 20 seconds left.
“The great thing is we are playing great, but the greater thing is we can play even better,’’ Wilson said after the game. “That’s the scary part. That’s the scary part for the NFL and a great thing for us. We’re ready to roll and we’re ready to keep getting better.’’
Eagles QB Carson Wentz, throwing to a skeleton crew of wide receivers, was 33-for-45 for 256 yards, with one TD and two interceptions against the Seahawks.
2. Flying high
After the loss to the Seahawks, the Eagles went to Miami and were upset by the Dolphins, 37-31.
That was the nadir for these Eagles, who dropped to 5-7 with that defeat.
“I have a lot of faith and a lot of belief in the guys that we have,” Wentz said after the game, via the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Could the Eagles still rally to make hte playoffs?
“I’ve seen crazier (things),” Wentz said.
Not so crazy now.
The Eagles won their final four games to finish 9-7 and claim the NFC East. The beat the Cowboys, 17-9, to wrestle away control of the division in Week 16, then closed out the regular season Sunday with a convincing 34-17 victory over the New York Giants.
3. Wentz heating up
Wentz is in the midst of the best stretch of his career. He’s thrown seven touchdown passes with no interceptions during the Eagles’ four-game winning streak.
He is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards without a wide receiver with more than 500 yards, per the Inquirer.
Wentz has been sacked just two times in the past two games, and he’s always shown a willingness to use his feet more to escape the pocket when need.
“We’ve got to continue to find ways to do that, and help the offensive line that away, as well,” Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson said Monday. “That’s what Carson’s good at.”
4. Eagles devastated by injuries
The Seahawks, we know, have dealt with an unusually high number of injuries in the past few weeks, particularly on offense.
They will get no sympathy from the Eagles, who have had seven of their Week 1 offensive starters go down with significant injuries.
The latest injury is to Brandon Brooks, the Eagles’ Pro Bowl offensive guard. He suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against the Giants on Sunday.
Another major injury to monitor this week: Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz missed Sunday’s game after suffering cracked ribs and, according to multiple reports, a lacerated kidney against Dallas a week earlier (and then played the second half against the Cowboys with those injuries).
Ertz had 12 catches for 91 yards and a TD, and Pederson has not ruled Ertz out this week.
With Ertz out Sunday, former University of Washington tight end Josh Perkins had a season-high four catches for 50 yards and a TD for the Eagles.
5. Jones emerging at corner
Another former UW standout, Sidney Jones, has been revived in the Eagles’ secondary.
Jones tore his Achilles during the final drill of UW’s Pro Day workout in March 2017, causing him to slip to the second round of the 2017 draft.
He has battled injuries throughout his NFL career, and even when healthy he hasn’t established himself in Philadelphia. He was a four-game starter earlier this season, but was benched after that. He was a healthy inactive against Miami a month ago.
But much has changed for him in the past several weeks. Jones broke up a pass late in the Eagles’ victory over Dallas, then had a game-clinching interception Sunday against the Giants.
“It’s pretty crazy to think about,” Jones told NBCSports Philadelphia last week.
He credited teammates for their support.
“They know it’s been rough,” he said. “They know it’s been a little disappointing for myself and everybody else to be honest. It’s just life. It’s adversity. It’s going to come at different times for everybody. Mine just happens to be in this early process of my career. Just battling. You get hit with adversity at the beginning, you can’t fold. You just gotta keep bouncing back.”