Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has not experienced a losing season since entering the league as a third-round pick in 2012. The Seahawks are already 8-2, with their last two wins coming in overtime, guaranteeing that the streak will extend through 2019. With two more wins, the Seahawks will have double-digit victories for the seventh time in Wilson's eight seasons.
Early in Wilson's career, he had the backing of the Legion of Boom defense that featured All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor, and All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, among others. The Legion of Boom defense ranked first in the league in points allowed in four consecutive seasons from Wilson's rookie year through 2015. In that span, the Seahawks won one Super Bowl and came 1 yard short of another. They made it to the Divisional Round in each of those four seasons.
Now, the success of the Seahawks falls largely on the shoulders of one of the league's most dynamic quarterbacks. Wilson is having an MVP-caliber season with an NFL-best 114.9 QB rating and a TD/INT ratio of 23-to-2. His ability to elude defenders has allowed him to pick up 256 yards on the ground, good for second on the team, and another three touchdowns.
The Seahawks' offensive philosophy, even with Wilson, is to establish the run. Seattle ran the ball on over 46 percent of its offensive snaps in the first 10 games of the season, the fifth-highest rate in the league. Lead running back Chris Carson ranks seventh in the NFL with 853 yards on the ground, at an average of 4.3 yards per carry.
The Eagles must respect the run, which allows Wilson to throw out of play-action effectively. Wilson has completed 77.1 percent of his play-action attempts this season and has a QB rating of 141.2 on such throws. Both are the best marks in the league. The penchant for biting on the run fakes also helps Wilson as he has 26 completions of passes of 20 yards or more in the air and a 135.4 QB rating, again the best in the league, in such situations. The Eagles must be especially aware of the play-action when Wilson lines up under center.
Wilson's top target in the pass game is wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who has 62 receptions for 793 yards and six touchdowns on the year. Lockett has caught an astounding 81.6 percent of the balls thrown to him by Wilson. Rookie second-round pick DK Metcalf has been a big-play receiver for the Seahawks. He leads all NFL rookies with 595 receiving yards on 35 catches this season. The 6-4, 229-pound wideout is also tied for the league lead among rookies with five touchdowns. He averages 17 yards per reception. Ten of his catches have gone for 20-plus yards. He's been targeted 64 times by quarterback Russell Wilson, although his catch rate is just 54.7 percent. Still, the Seahawks' coaches have done a good job of playing to his strengths. The Eagles' secondary has been much improved of late, but should be prepared for at least one deep shot to Metcalf at some point in this game.
What about the Seattle defense that used to be the identity of this team? One of the few remaining members of the Legion of Boom is Wagner, who is arguably the league's best off-the-ball linebacker. Overall, this is a unit that has struggled to get pressure on the quarterback. The Seahawks have posted just 20 sacks overall on the season and a mere three on third down. The Seahawks rank 30th in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt on the year.
Seattle acquired three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in a trade with Houston before the start of the season. Clowney has three sacks and two defensive touchdowns on the year. He is coming off arguably the best game of his NFL career in the Week 10 win over San Francisco. Clowney posted five tackles, a sack, five quarterback hits, and a fumble return for a touchdown.
However, Clowney is questionable with knee and hip injuries. He did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday and received treatment away from the team facility on Friday. When Clowney played the Eagles last season as a member of the Houston Texans, he registered nine tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
While the names are different in the secondary from the Legion of Boom era, the traits remain the same. Seattle prides itself in discovering long, physical disruptors on the back end of the defense. Seattle is tied for fourth in the league with 19 takeaways, so protecting the ball will be critical as always for the Eagles.
The Seahawks are once again in the thick of the playoff race in the NFC, led by one of the league's elite quarterbacks who has never lost to the Eagles in three previous matchups.
DE Jadeveon Clowney (knee, hip)
CB Neiko Thorpe (groin)
S Rudy Ford (abdomen)
T Lane Johnson (concussion)
WR Nelson Agholor (knee)
RB Jordan Howard (shoulder)
WR Alshon Jeffery (ankle)
By the numbers
.742: The Eagles have the third-best home winning percentage since Doug Pederson took over as head coach in 2016.
18-7: Carson Wentz owns the best home winning percentage by a quarterback in Eagles history.
238.3: The Eagles' defense leads the league in yards allowed per game as well as yards allowed per play (4.18) since Week 8. The Eagles have held opponents to fewer than 300 yards and no more than 17 points in each of the past three games.
57.4: Since Week 7, Jalen Mills leads all NFC defensive backs with a 57.4 passer rating on throws in his direction.
75.9: Add in the return of Ronald Darby in Week 8 and the Eagles are fifth in the NFL in defensive passer rating.
200: This Sunday will mark Jason Peters' 200th NFL game.
17: Jake Elliott has made 17 consecutive field goal attempts dating back to last season, currently the third-longest streak in franchise history (22 is the record).
500: Zach Ertz is eight catches shy of 500 for his career. He would join Harold Carmichael (589) as the only other Eagle to hit that mark. If Ertz reaches the mark on Sunday, only Kellen Winslow Sr. would have accomplished it in fewer games (102 for Ertz compared to 101 for Winslow) among tight ends in NFL history.
1. Andre Dillard will start at right tackle for the Eagles.
2. Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro looks at the impact injuries have had on the offense.
3. Carson Wentz isn't going to back down from this latest challenge of leading a struggling Eagles offense against an 8-2 Seattle Seahawks team.
4. Fletcher Cox is the spark plug of the Eagles' defense. It's no coincidence that his improved play has helped the defense's turnaround.
5. A look at Jadeveon Clowney's status for Sunday along with the improved health of Tyler Lockett.
6. Three key matchups to watch on Sunday.