Seattle Seahawks @ Philadelphia Eagles: Philly set for more playoff glory

Zach Ertz Eagles
Zach Ertz had a huge game when these teams met in November

The Eagles have found a way to get things done in the playoffs in recent years and they can do so once again against the Seahawks despite going off as underdogs, says Dave Gray

"The Seahawks have given up more yard to tight ends than any team but the Cardinals this season. Ertz had 12 receptions and a touchdown when these teams met six weeks ago."

Seattle Seahawks @ Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, 21:40 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Action and Main Event

The Seahawks went into last weekend with hopes of stealing the number one seed, but a loss to the 49ers saw them finish as runners up in the NFC West and the fifth seed heading into the playoffs.

The Eagles won their final four games to win the NFC East with a 9-7 record, one game clear of the Cowboys.

Big day for Wilson?

Russell Wilson looked to be heading towards his first ever MVP award at the halfway stage of the season, but Lamar Jackson stole that away from him. But that does not take away from what has been an incredible season from the highest paid player in the history of the league. He got that big deal before the season and more than lived up to it. Wilson already has a Super Bowl win and one other appearance in his relatively short career, but this will be one he really wants after all the talk about whether he was worth that record contract.

Wilson has thrown for 31 touchdowns and just five interceptions to help Seattle reach 11-5 this season and he will fancy his chances of adding to that against a bottom half pass defence. His ability to run the ball is often talked about but it is his arm that does most of the damage.

Tyler Lockett has shown that he has the ability to be one of the best receivers in the game. The speedy receiver is a perfect player to work with Wilson's superb deep ball. Expect big things from him on Sunday as Seattle look to book what is likely to be a third meeting with their division rivals in San Francisco.

Eagles peaking at the right time?

Carson Wentz has been a little up and down this season in his comeback from a back injury that cut his 2018 season short. He has played 16 games for the first time since his rookie season though and the past month or so has seen what has probably been his best football of the year. That is certainly a good sign for the Eagles' playoff hopes.

He has not been helped by his receivers nearly all spending time on the sidelines. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward are far from what they would have been expecting to field at receiver as they head into the playoffs, but they seem to have found something, particularly in Ward who started the year playing in the AAF for the San Antonio Commanders. He had 21 catches on 30 targets over the final four games and will need to play a big part if the Eagles are going to upset Seattle.

Zach Ertz has had another very good season. The tight end finished with more than 900 yards and is the de facto WR1 with Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery out with injury. He averages over five catches per game in the playoffs and could well better that on Sunday. The Seahawks have given up more yard to tight ends than any team bar the Cardinals this season. Ertz had 12 receptions and a touchdown when these teams met six weeks ago. While he may not reach that number again he should see a lot of work. He has been out with injury and it may mean Dallas Goedert takes some of the work.

Sanders could be the difference

With the struggles at receiver, rookie running back Miles Sanders could be called upon to lead the team on Sunday. He had a superb 1,327 yards from scrimmage and added six touchdowns. He is also a threat in the return game with a season long of 67 yards. He is a threat in both the run and passing game and will cause the Seahawks headaches all game long. If they can't find a way to stop him then it could be a long afternoon for Pete Carroll and his defence.

Marshawn Lynch.jpg

Problems in the Seattle backfield

Marshawn Lynch returned to the Seahawks last week and ran in a touchdown, but it wasn't all good for the veteran running back. Travis Homer led the team in rushing and looked much more likely to do some damage. The offence is built around a strong run game and the play action that comes with it. If they can't get it going on the ground it could make them one dimensional. This would be a real problem and may see the Seahawks season ending a month earlier than they want it to.

The picks

This may be the closest game of the entire first round. It is the closest in terms of handicap. In that situation I would lean towards the home team and in this I am taking the Eagles and the 1.5 handicap. The injury issues for Seattle may just be too much for them to overcome.

Ertz is set for another heavy workload and he can really hurt the Seahawks. You can back him for 100+ receiving yards at a tasty looking 13/2.

Miles Sanders has been boosted to 9/1 to score the first touchdown. He is likely to play a big role in the offence and could get on the board early in his first ever playoff game.

Dave Gray's Regular Season NFL 2019/20 P/L

Staked: 84
Returns: 87.20
P/L: +3.20

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