NFL Playoffs Wildcard Preview: Seahawks vs Eagles

NFL Playoffs Wildcard Preview: Seahawks vs Eagles 5

Seattle Seahawks vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Spread: Seahawks -2 | Over/Under: 46

The wildcard round will finish on Sunday evening with the 11-5 Seattle Seahawks traveling to Philadelphia to play the 9-7 Eagles, who earn home-field advantage as the NFC East division winner.

Philadelphia has had a tumultuous season that includes losses to the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions, two teams picking in the top five of the 2020 NFL Draft. They are, however, riding hot into the playoffs with wins in their last four games of the 2019 season, including a Week 16 victory against the Dallas Cowboys in a quasi division championship game. The Seahawks started the season strong. They had an 8-2 record heading into their Week 11 bye. Following that, though, they finished the season 3-3 including losses in three of their last four games with only a six-point win against a depleted Carolina Panthers team to boast.

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The following my tips and advice for daily fantasy users and sports betting fans.

Keys to the Game: Seattle Seahawks

Seattle’s success this season, to the surprise of few, has come through a dedication to the ground attack. They have averaged 137.5 rushing yards per game, fourth-highest in the league. The Seahawks have run 445 run plays this season, third-highest in the NFL.

They, however, will be without both Chris Carson, who rushed for 1,230 yards and seven touchdowns and back-up Rashaad Penny who ran the ball 65 times for an average of 5.7 yards per carry. Instead, Seattle will rely on 2019 6th round pick Travis Homer to contribute and Marshawn Lynch to have a career resurrection. Homer touched the ball 15 times in Week 17 against the San Francisco 49ers and gained 92 total yards. Lynch averaged just 2.8 yards per carry on his 12 attempts last week. He did, however, find the endzone-which drive a packed Seattle crowd wild.

Overcoming their injuries in the running game will be the key to victory for the Seahawks. They have shown a refusal to pivot off their run-first mentality despite an efficient and improved passing attack this season and we have no reason to believe this week will be different.

Keys to the Game: Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles will want to push the tempo of the game and get out to an early lead against a Seattle team that feels more comfortable when they can control time of possession from ahead.

Despite injuries throughout their wide receiver depth chart, the Eagles have thrown for the eleventh most passing yards this season and Seattle has allowed the 6th most passing yards to opposing defenses this season.

Carson Wentz has thrown for over 300 yards in two of his last four games and has seven total touchdowns and zero interceptions in that same time span. Dallas Goedert and Greg Ward have emerged as viable passing game options. Goedert has 13 catches, on 22 targets, over the last two weeks and has combined for 156 yards and a touchdown. Greg Ward has caught ten of twelve targets for 114 yards.

If the Eagles can expose Seattle’s weak secondary early and jump to an early lead it will force the Seahawks to play outside of their comfort zone. A confident Carson Wentz is a dangerous weapon and I expect the Eagles to emphasize his arm in this game.

Fantasy Take: Start’Em Sit’Em

Fantasy football takes a variety of formats for the NFL playoffs. These picks provide general advice that can be tailored to specific formats.

Start: Russell Wilson

Quarterback

Wilson is the ideal start candidate in one and done leagues this week. He is a high floor fantasy player in a close match-up, meaning you may not be able to use him next week.

Despite Seattle’s emphasis on running the ball, Wilson finished as QB3 in fantasy football this year. He has 31 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions and finished sixth in the NFL with 4,110 passing yards. Philadelphia’s secondary has improved toward the end of the season but has been exposed on numerous occasions and is absolutely vulnerable to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

Start: Dallas Goedert

Tight End

Dallas Goedert

I referenced him earlier, but Goedert has been a go-to passing option for Wentz since the Eagles caught fire late in the season. Goedert is a good play in the Wild Card round as you wait to use tight ends on byes like Mark Andrews and George Kittle.

It seems unlikely Zach Ertz plays in the Eagles’ Wild Card game this Sunday. He is dealing with a rib fracture and there are reports of a lacerated kidney. The Eagles are the only team in the NFL with two elite tight ends and despite the long list of injuries for the Birds, Goedert filling in for Ertz is not a huge drop off in talent.

Start: Miles Sanders/Boston Scott

Running Back

Seattle has allowed 22 rushing touchdowns this season, third-most in the league. They have also allowed 817 receiving yards to opposing running backs, the fourth-most in the league.

Sanders is currently expected to play, despite an ankle injury. Prior to an early Week 17 exit Sanders had combined for at least 100 total yards in three of his last four games and at least 150 total yards in two of those games. He also averaged a touchdown per game over that timespan. If he’s out, Boston Scott has been an effective fill-in combined for at least 100 yards twice since Week 14 when Sanders wasn’t the featured back.

Sit: Travis Homer/Marshawn Lynch

Running Back

Seattle will likely run the ball on par to their 27.8 times per game this season, but I expect an even split of the workload between these two backs. I also expect the Eagles, despite Seattle’s gameplan, to jump up early. That will make emphasizing either of these backs difficult. They will be a focal part of the NFL attack but shouldn’t register as significant for your fantasy football rosters.

My Pick

This is exactly where the Eagles want to be. Philadelphia loves being underdogs and it seems like we get an annual threat from a darling 9-7 team. I’m not sure we will get a long run at the SuperBowl from this team but I do expect a wild card victory at home.

I believe they will be able to expose a weak Seattle secondary and shutdown their battered rushing attack. Eagles 23-20

 

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