Eagles Offense vs. Seahawks Defense

A rejuvenated LeSean McCoy clashes with the Seahawks' air-tight run defense. Who wins the war of wills?

EAGLES OFFENSE

Assertion, control, and steady hands. With these qualities, the Eagles offense handled the Cowboys defense with ease on Thanksgiving. Take away a lost fumble and some red zone difficulties and you couldn't ask for a better day than what was provided. The 256 rushing yards alone wore out Dallas' defenders, extended drives, killed clock, and drained the life out of Dallas crowd that was thinking 'alone in first-place' to go along with the cranberry sauce.

That, in essence, was the Eagles offense at their most capable: controlling the tempo and handily winning the battle of endurance. By halftime, the Cowboys were sucking wind so badly, the first ten rows of the stadium passed out from oxygen deprivation. The message is there for defenses: learn to keep up, or bring some extra oxygen tanks.

Mark Sanchez

Sanchez made very few bad throws in that win in Dallas, slinging sharply, and expertly selling fakes in zone read. It was a far cry from his poor decisions and frenzied reaction against the Packers, after which most fans wanted to bring a faith healer to Nick Foles' house. For two straight games, including the win over the Titans, Sanchez has come just short of completing 70% of his throws (50 of 72, 69.4%). The comfort is palpable.

KEY STAT: Mark Sanchez, in five games played, has avoided throwing a pick in two of them. Nick Foles, in eight games, is pickless in one.

LeSean McCoy

After a putrid start to the season, nobody would've had McCoy figured as the second player to break 1000 yards for the season. McCoy sat at 859 headed into Thanksgiving, and shattered the half-ton mark with 159 and a long, winding touchdown run to slam the game's door shut. No surprise; you could've driven farm vehicles through the holes McCoy's been getting in recent weeks. The best weapon on the team is running at optimum strength.

KEY STAT: McCoy has just two games in which he's run for 100 yards and a touchdown: the last two against the Titans and Cowboys.

Jordan Matthews

Sanchez's favorite target sits at 686 yards, which is 226 yards shy of the Eagles team record for receiving yards by a rookie (912, DeSean Jackson, 2008). At Matthews' pace on the season, he'd reach 915 and own the record, but Sanchez's faith in him could push him closer to 1000 by the time the season ends. Once a simple screen-option with Foles behind center, Matthews has branched out into an aggressive downfield option.

KEY STAT: 408 of Matthews' 686 yards have come with Sanchez at quarterback, as well as five of his seven touchdowns.

Andrew Gardner

The many faces of the Eagles offensive line may have an interesting component in new right guard Gardner, a previous fill-in at right tackle with Lane Johnson suspended and Allen Barbre injured. Since filling in for injured Todd Herremans and benched Matt Tobin, Gardner has turned in two fine performances over the past pair of wins. Two sacks were allowed, yes, including one to Tyrone Crawford that nearly resulted in a lost fumble. Gardner recovered the ball, and remained strong otherwise.

KEY STAT: In 202 snaps at right tackle, Garnder allowed seven hurries. In 199 at right guard, Gardner's allowed only three.

SEAHAWKS DEFENSE

In their bid to sink their claws into their alpha-male status in the NFC West, the Seahawks won consecutive games by the score of 19-3. That included shutting down fading division leader Arizona, and humiliating rival San Francisco on Thanksgiving night, so it wasn't a pair of cellar dwellers that got pummeled. Perhaps the muddled loss to the Chiefs a couple weeks back woke up Seattle's mean streak?

To be fair, the Seahawks defense hasn't given up more than 24 points since October 19. Opponents have only reached the 30 mark twice, and in each loss the opponent had to score 24 to get the win. Recent trends say the Seahawks doesn't bend like that anymore, but the Eagles certainly broke the Cowboys with their tempo and power. Should be quite a clash.

Michael Bennett

The workhorse of the Seahawks defensive line has brought the pain over 635 snaps, with five sacks, a forced fumble, and a whopping 41 hurries to show for his efforts. As the first line of defense, Bennett is also a key cog in the team's strong run defense, recording 21 run-stops, though he's missed four tackles. Overall, Bennett's the team's strongest pass rusher, playing mostly the right side of the unit.

KEY STAT: Across 12 games, Bennett's been penalized 12 times, only avoiding a flag in two games.

Bobby Wagner

Wagner's been limited to just seven games after getting hurt against the Cowboys, but still has recorded 25 run stops. In fact, Wagner's return in November coincided with the dual beatdowns of the Cardinals and 49ers. The chief run-stuffer has not had a bad game in his half a season of activity, and his mid-field diagnoses go a long way in explaining why this defense is infinitely smart with him in the middle.

KEY STAT: Wagner has only missed two tackles playing 147 running downs.

Richard Sherman

The mouth of the Legion of Boom still waits for somebody to wire his jaw shut. Aside from a rough outing against the Panthers, Sherman's returned to his All-Pro, Madden-adorning form with three picks, seven defensed passes, and 13 stops aiding the run defense. When he's not rankling Roger Goodell with some biting sarcasm and satire, Sherman leads the Boom unit, one not as historically potent as a year ago, but dangerous nonetheless.

KEY STAT: Sherman owns the third-lowest defensive passer rating among starting corners, a 49.8, with a 46.2 percent completion percentage.

Statistics from Pro Football Focus were used to write this story.

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