The Seattle Seahawks will bring their Super Bowl rings to Lincoln Financial Field on December 7 in what the Eagles will surely hope is a picture of their future. To paraphrase the Nature Boy Ric Flair, to be the best, you have to beat the best; such is the challenge that will be stand in front of the Eagles.
Seattle's calling card remains its defense, where they ranked atop the league in 2013 thanks to a ferocious pass rush, ball-hawking linebackers and the league's best secondary, led by cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas. Though important players like Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond have departed Seattle, the Seahawks' defense is still primed to dominate once again.
Of course, the Seahawks' defense will have their hands full with one of the league's most powerful offenses. The game plan for this side of the matchup will be interesting, as the Eagles boasted the league's best running game in 2013, with 5.1 yards per rush, while the Seahawks stood atop the league in pass defense, allowing only 4.8 net yards per pass attempt. So will the Eagles pound the run, or is that exactly what the Seahawks will expect? The chess match will be one to follow.
With that in mind, the matchup between Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and Chip Kelly is sure to draw intrigue. Considering Carroll's history as head coach at USC, you might think the two have faced off several times before. But Carroll's USC and Kelly's Oregon only faced off once with the two as respective head coaches. That game, on Halloween in 2009, featured Carroll's fourth-ranked Trojans traveling to the 10th-ranked Ducks. Kelly had the last laugh on that night with a 47-20 victory.
On the other side of the ball, quarterback Russell Wilson remains one of the league's ascending players, even if he's not asked to do too much. Running back Marshawn Lynch is the focal point of the offense and he carried the ball 301 times in 2013, second only to the league's rushing champion,
On the outside, the Seahawks hope to replace the departed Golden Tate with the return of a healthy Percy Harvin, one of the league's most explosive playmakers. Doug Baldwin mans the other starting receiver spot, while Zach Miller is a steady target at tight end.
With feathers sure to fly in Philadelphia, the NFL's eyes will be on which avian side squawks last.