SEATTLE -- A couple of things to discuss in the hours before the Eagles play Seattle at Qwest Field. Early this morning it was raining and very windy and now we are entering the stadium and the skies are clear and the winds are light. Still, the weather could very well be a factor. The field will be fine -- the Qwest Field surface is FieldTurf, which was installed prior to the season. The playing conditions are going to be fast and true.
But if the Eagles are going to play Throwball, they may have to do so in gusty winds and with rain drops pelting the players. The forecast is for rain. You never know here.
Quarterback Donovan McNabb, who suffered a poked left eye last week in the win over Seattle, wore a visor in practice during the week. It isn't known if he is going to wear the visor during the game, but there are questions about that. If he wears a visor, how will he keep it clear if it is raining? Could he, for example, wear a visor early and find that it is more bothersome than helpful and take off the visor and change out for a facemask during the course of the game? Is that permissible in the NFL?
So there is some intrigue. The Eagles have been here since Friday night. They had a practice on Saturday and their bodies are acclimated to the time change. And, yeah, everybody turned his clock back one hour overnight.
Everyone should be ready to capture a very winnable game. How will the Eagles play this game? Here are some guesses ...
- Offensively, the Eagles want to throw the ball, and the coaches have long said that rain isn't a deterrent to doing so. Unless there is a downpour, the Eagles will throw the football (and as I look outside the hotel window a couple of hours before kickoff, the skies are changing). But the wind is another issue. The flags along the street here are blowing violently. There could be some gusts in the afternoon, and then again there could be nothing by the time kickoff arrives.
Seattle's defense has speed, even without end Patrick Kerney. Linebacker Lofa Tatupu has a groin injury and didn't practice all week, although he is likely to give it a try today. The Eagles, as we have discussed before, need to run earlier today than they have in recent road games. They need to establish the line of scrimmage and minimize the sideline-to-sideline speed on defense.
Hey, no turnovers for the Eagles. Secure the football. Have some patience on the approach offensively. Take some shots down the field, but the hope is that the Eagles get the running game going to set up their play-action passing game. I think Brian Westbrook has a big day, and the Eagles are going to go after Seattle's cornerbacks and have a big day that way. I see a strong offensive outing for the Eagles today.
- The defense should have the opportunity to dictate today. I don't think fullback Leonard Weaver is going to play for Seattle -- just a guess -- so the Eagles are going to blitz even more with rookie Owen Schmitt on the field trying to figure out where the blitz is coming from. Quarterback Seneca Wallace is short and a scrambler and he hasn't shown a lot of accuracy on his throws. If I'm drawing up the defense, I want the cornerbacks up on the receivers, because Seattle has no real speed on the outside. Seattle will try to cobble out a nick-and-knack running game and shorten the clock and play smallball, but that isn't going to work if the Eagles have eight and nine men in the box on every play.
- Special teams are critical here. No turnovers. Watch out for Seattle taking some chances. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Seahawks stay in the Halloween spirit and try to trick their way to a win.
I'm in the school of thought today that the Eagles should win if they play their game. The Eagles come in here as the better team. They have more firepower offensively -- Reggie Brown is going to see a lot of time and you are going to see formations with Brown, Kevin Curtis and DeSean Jackson on the field together -- and they have more strength at just about every position.
But how can you really know what the Eagles are going to do at this point? The Eagles have won two games in a row. A win today makes them officially hot with a game against the Giants a week away.
Game time nears. We know what the Eagles *should *do against a team that is 2-5 and with so many injuries. But this is the NFL. Anything goes in this league. Hopefully, the Eagles will step up and defeat the elements and the Seahawks and make the long trip home in a good mood.