Why the Seattle Seahawks own the Eagles

Eliot Shorr-Parks
January 02, 2020 - 8:43 am
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There is no getting around an inconvenient fact heading into Sunday’s Wild Card game — the Seattle Seahawks own the Eagles. 

Winners of five straight, the Seahawks have not lost to the Eagles since 2008, and overall, have won seven of the eight matchups between the two teams since 2005. In fact, the Eagles have not won two games in a row over the Seahawks since 2001 and 2002. 

While those games from almost twenty years ago don’t mean much for Sunday’s showdown, the most recent ones do, and the Seahawks have been just as dominant in those. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has never lost to the Eagles, going a perfect 4-0 since he became a starter.

On Wednesday, head coach Doug Pederson citied execution on why his team has been unable to beat Seattle. 

“They are a good football team. A couple times we've been out on the west coast and we just haven't played well,” Pederson said. “Obviously knowing [Seahawks QB] Russell [Wilson] and knowing his capabilities outside the pocket as well as inside and they've had some good defenses, and it's just come down to our lack of execution, I think, especially when you play good teams like this.”

Pederson is right — his offense has played poorly against Seattle. There are also, however, a few common threads between the last four losses. 

Sunday Dec 7, 2014: Eagles 14, Seahawks 24 (Philadelphia) 

This one is perhaps the least relevant of the four games, as Chip Kelly was the head coach and Mark Sanchez was the quarterback. This game was in many ways the beginning of the end for Kelly, and looking back at the box score, it is easy to see why. The Eagles only had the ball for 18 minutes on offense, while the defense was on the field for 42 minutes. That would never happen under Pederson, who has been masterful at controlling the clock and making sure his defense isn’t on the field for the large majority of the game. 

Part of the reason the Eagles’ offense couldn’t stay on the field was their play on third down, where they went just 2-11. Wilson had a strong day, going 22 of 37 for 263 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions. 

Sunday Nov 20, 2016: Eagles 15, Seahawks 26 (Seattle)

This one came during the rookie seasons of Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz. The game was not as competitive as the final margin of victory for the Seahawks might indicate, as the Eagles trailed 16-7 at halftime, and that became 23-7 midway through the 3rd

Turnovers were an issue for the Eagles, as Wentz had two interceptions and put the ball on the ground once. As is the case on most days where the offense struggles, the Eagles went 5-15 on third down. 

Wilson, meanwhile, was once again great as he not only threw for a touchdown and 272 yards, but also caught a touchdown.  

Sunday Dec 3, 2017: Eagles 10, Seahawks 24 (Seattle)

Of all the losses to the Seahawks, this one might be the most alarming. The Eagles were 10-1 coming into the game, winners of nine straight and were playing arguably their best football of the season. An offense that had been unstoppable all season, however, had only 3 points in the first three quarters. The defense played well to start the game, but the lack of offense allowed the Seahawks to take a 17-3 lead heading into the 4th. The Eagles pulled within seven, 17-10, but the Seahawks scored on next possession to take a 24-10 lead 

Turnovers were once again a major issues, as Wentz had one interception and two fumbles, one of which was recovered by the Seahawks. Wilson finished with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. 

Sunday Nov 24, 2019: Eagles 9, Seahawks 17 (Philadelphia) 

The most recent matchup between the two teams came just five weeks ago, but the Eagles look like a completely different team now. On that day both Jay Ajayi and Jordan Matthews were large parts of the offense, two players that are no longer on the roster. Eagles’ offense once again finished with just three points through 3 quarters. The defense played really well, but Seahawks did miss some chances, including a wide-open touchdown pass that Wilson airmailed over the head of his receiver. Overall Wilson had arguably his worst game ever against the Eagles, going 13/25 for 200 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Wentz also played arguably his worst game of the season, as he turned the ball over four times, and the Eagles turned it over five times on the day. 

Common threads:

Slow Starts: Slow starts have been a common theme in almost all of the Eagles’ games recently, but they have been especially slow to start against Seattle. Even in 2017, when the offense was clicking on all cylinders, they scored just three points in the first three quarters. Overall, the Eagles are averaging just 4.3 points in the first half in the last three matchups with the Seahawks, and have not scored a third-quarter point in the last three matchups either. 

Wilson: Most games in the NFL, the team that has the quarterback that plays better will win, and that has certainly been the case between these two teams. In his three games against the Seahawks, Wentz has four touchdowns, five interceptions and six fumbles (three lost). His quarterback rating is 74.4, the second lowest in his career against any team he has played at least twice. Wilson, meanwhile, has seven touchdowns, one interception and just one fumble against the Eagles in four games for a quarterback rating of 98.9. 

Offense: Over the last three games the Seahawks are averaging just 22.3 points, which is not great, but not terrible from the defense either. The issue has been the offense, which is averaging only 11.3 points. There have been different personnel groups for each game, but overall, it is fair to wonder if the defensive-minded Pete Carroll simply has Pederson's offense figured out. 

Turnovers: The Eagles have turned the ball over nine times in the three matchups with the Seahawks that have involved Wentz and Pederson, an alarming average of three times per game. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are averaging just over one turnover per game, giving them a 3-1 edge on average in the turnover battle. Needless to say, that won’t get it done and the Eagles won’t win on Sunday if that happens. 

The bad news is that taking care of the ball might be tough to do, as the Seahawks finished third in the NFL this season with a total of 32 takeaways. They were 20th on offense with just 20 total turnovers. The Eagles, meanwhile, have not been especially great at creating turnovers (21st) or taking care of the ball (13th). 

Turnovers are always important, but they are especially important when the game is close. On average, the Seahawks are beating the Eagles by 10 points. These games aren't blowouts. In fact, almost all of them have been competitive in the third quarter. The issue is the Seahawks are getting way mroe chances with the ball and often are starting in great field position. 

The bottom line is that turnovers have been the top reason the Seahawks have owned the Eagles recently, and the team that wins the turnover battle on Sunday will likely win the game. 

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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