Eagles-Seahawks: 3 Matchups to Watch in Primetime Clash
The Eagles (3-6-1) will host the Seattle Seahawks (7-3) in a drama-infused primetime matchup.
The Seahawks, who currently sit atop the NFC West, figure to enter Week 12 rejuvenated and recalibrated following an extended layover. Perhaps the conference's most formidable representative, the Seahawks boast a balanced, albeit high-powered offense that is hitting its stride late in the season.
On the flip side, the Eagles are a floundering franchise searching for cohesiveness, identity, and reason for optimism.
Without further ado, let's take a look at three critical matchups that could determine the outcome.
LT Jordan Mailata vs. DE Carlos Dunlap
One of the more pressing concerns to emerge from the Week 3 carnage that ultimately ended in a tie against the woeful Cincinnati Bengals centered around Jason Peters and his protection blunders. That week, Bengals' edge rusher Carlos Dunlap recorded nine tackles (one for loss), four pressures, a batted pass, and a quarterback hit.
Fast forward to Week 12, Dunlap is wreaking havoc for another team and has instantly invigorated a stagnant Seahawks' pass rush. The 31-year-old has settled into his "Leo" role on defense and is coming off a two-sack effort against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Eagles, who will roll out their tenth different offensive line combination of the season on Monday night, have replaced a struggling Peters with intriguing 23-year-old Jordan Mailata. Peters will be making his first career start at right guard.
While deploying Mailata as Wentz's blindside protector is the right move at this stage, the young tackle undoubtedly draws a tough assignment in the veteran Dunlap. Mailata possesses tantalizing athleticism, but Dunlap's savvy, speed, and experience give him the upper hand in a potentially game-altering matchup.
DE Brandon Graham vs. RT Brandon Shell/Cedric Ogbuehi
As we inch closer towards kickoff, it seems less likely the Seahawks will have Shell (ankle) available. While the 28-year-old is far from being considered a world-beater -- he was benched last season with the Jets -- he's a starter, nonetheless. From a sheer continuity standpoint, Shell's absence could be more problematic than it appears on the surface.
Graham, who has been among the Eagles' most consistent performers through eleven games, will likely line up across from 2015 first-round pick, Cedric Ogbuehi.
Ogbuehi, a wildly inconsistent journeyman, finished the game for Shell against Arizona. The 6-foot-5, 308-pound offensive lineman is notorious for his sloppy footwork and struggles against power rushers. Graham, who sports a compact, squatty build, typically defeats linemen with his bull rush, motor, and leverage. On paper, this matchup heavily plays into the Eagles' favor.
CB Avonte Maddox vs. WR Tyler Lockett
Teams continue to profusely target Maddox in the passing game with great success, a trend that figures to unfold grandly against an explosive Seahawks' aerial attack.
With Darius Slay slated to shadow the ultra-talented D.K. Metcalf, Maddox will likely draw Tyler Lockett in coverage. Maddox closely matches Lockett from a measurable perspective, but glaring deficiencies in his game -- namely poor eye discipline -- can be detrimental against a player of Lockett's caliber. The Seahawks No. 2 pass-catcher offers inside-outside versatility, terrific short-area quickness, explosiveness after the catch, and the ability to stretch a defense. If Maddox is even a beat too slow to react, it could open the floodgates.
Lockett often lines up in the slot, so he will inevitably see Nickell Robey-Coleman, but the Eagles' best course of action would be to pair the quick-twitched Maddox against Lockett as much as possible.
Eagles vs Giants 2020