With every week and every win, the Seahawks’ numbers start to glitter even more.
The Seahawks have won three in a row, six of seven and are 8-2 this season, among the best four records after 10 games in team history. Seattle is also 5-0 on the road, a team record, and is 18-6 since losing the first two games of the 2018 season.
But each week presents a new challenge, and Sunday it’s playing on the road against a team less than two years removed from a Super Bowl title — the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are just trying to stay in the playoff race standing at 5-5 with some mystifying losses (Detroit at home) mixed with a few wins that conjured up memories of the 2017 season (victories at Green Bay and Buffalo).
Let’s look at some of the keys for Seattle on Sunday.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Seattle’s defensive ends (Jadeveon Clowney?) vs. Eagles right tackle Andre Dillard
Dillard, a Woodinville High and Washington State grad, will start at right tackle with veteran Lane Johnson battling a concussion (Johnson was officially ruled out Friday). Johnson is one of the most proven tackles in the game and a first-team All-Pro two years ago. Dillard is a rookie who would be making just his fourth career start, but first at right tackle after playing on the left side. If Jadeveon Clowney is able to play after missing practice all week with a sore hip, this could be an advantageous matchup when he lines up over Dillard. But even if Clowney doesn’t play, Seahawks such as Quinton Jefferson, Ziggy Ansah, Rasheem Green and maybe even rookie L.J. Collier — who could get the most playing time he has in a while, especially if Clowey can’t go — have to make the most of their opportunities.
COACHING DECISION TO WATCH
How many snaps to give Chris Carson
Carson’s 200 rushing attempts are the third-most in the NFL and second among those who have played just 10 games (one behind Cleveland’s Nick Chubb). He’s on pace for 320 carries, which would be the most for a Seahawk since 2005, when Shaun Alexander won the NFL MVP award and had 370 carries for 1,880 yards (Alexander had 353 and 326 carries the two years prior). Pete Carroll has sounded relatively unconcerned about Carson’s workload. But now that the Seahawks have six games in six weeks to finish the regular season and a probable playoff game, the Seahawks may want to try to get Rashaad Penny a little more involved to make sure Carson is at his best in the postseason. One thing to watch Sunday is that the Eagles have, statistically, one of the better run defenses in the NFL, allowing 86 yards per game (fourth-fewest) and just 3.8 yards per carry (sixth). That could compel the Seahawks to pass more, as they did two games ago against Tampa Bay.
PLAYER TO WATCH
WR Josh Gordon
Gordon got his feet wet with the Seahawks against the 49ers with 28 snaps and two big grabs on third downs late in the game. Expect him to play more going forward as Carroll said that there will be “no restrictions’’ on Gordon. The Seahawks say Tyler Lockett won’t be limited in any way after recovering from his leg injury suffered against the 49ers. But with Lockett limited in practice, Gordon may be a bigger part of the game plan, especially now that he has a little familiarity with the playbook and practice time.
Nickel corner Ugo Amadi
The rookie from Oregon appears set to be the nickel back for the remainder of the season after Jamar Taylor, who held the role the last nine games, was waived this week. Amadi was the nickel for the Week 1 scare against the Bengals, but he should be better-equipped for the role now. The Seahawks could stay in their base defense quite a bit against an Eagles team that ranks among the worst passing offenses in the NFL and is battling injury issues at receiver (Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor were on the injury report this week and DeSean Jackson is on injured reserve). That might mean leaving Mychal Kendricks — a former Eagle who will undoubtedly relish playing against his old team — on the field in passing situations much of the time. Still, Amadi figures to get some chances.
WILD-CARD PLAYER WHO COULD SURPRISE
LB/rush end Shaquem Griffin
Griffin played 14 snaps against the 49ers as a stand-up edge rusher on passing downs, his first defensive snaps of the season. While he didn’t record an official stat, his impact was enough that coaches said this week they want to see more of Griffin. In the “interesting subplot’’ category, Griffin’s snaps came, in part, at the expense of high-priced free agent Ziggy Ansah, who played just 14 snaps. Tracking the usage of each player — and their effectiveness — will be a fun exercise the rest of the season.
That’s how many plays out of 661 the Seahawks have run this season while trailing, according to Pro Football Focus. At almost 53%, it’s a vivid illustration of how often the Seahawks have had to play from behind. According to PFF, no other team that has run more than 340 plays while trailing has a winning record. Seattle has had five wins this season in which it has either come back in the fourth quarter or win in overtime. The ability to rally is admirable, but it’s probably not something the Seahawks want to try every week.
THE FINAL WORD
Seahawks 24, Eagles 20
For many obvious reasons this is a dangerous game for the Seahawks. But Seattle is coming off a bye and is on the upswing while the Eagles are dealing with injuries to key players such as Johnson, running back Jordan Howard and receivers Agholor and Jeffery. The Eagles are the more desperate team but also the more beat-up one. While you keep thinking the Seahawks can’t just win every road game they play — they are already just one away from the team record for road wins in a season of six set by the 2013 squad that won the Super Bowl — this feels like a game they should win.