Fri, 22 Jan 2021

Miles Sanders and the Eagles have been dangerous on the ground all season, but the Seahawks are ready for battle. Logan Reardon

The Eagles haven't had the season they hoped for in 2020 after three straight postseason appearances. Philadelphia still leads the NFC East, but the 3-6-1 record doesn't bode well for its playoff prospects.

A bright spot for the Eagles this season has been on the ground, where they are third in the NFL at 4.9 yards per carry. Second-year running back Miles Sanders leads the team with 585 rushing yards (5.7 yards per carry) despite missing three games due to injury.

On Monday, the Eagles will meet their match in a Seahawks defense that ranks fourth-best in the NFL with just 3.6 yards per carry allowed. Even as the defense has struggled at times this season, the opponent rushing numbers have remained in check. A large part of their success has come not because of the bodies up front, but the guys outside keeping runners contained.

"A lot of it is the edge, guys like K.J. (Wright) or Benson (Mayowa) or anybody out there, just setting firm edges and making sure the ball doesn't get outside," Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said on Wednesday. "It helps everyone on the inside because it doesn't extend the play. So, it definitely starts with them and those guys setting firm edges and not letting the ball get out, it allows the inside guys to be disruptive and make plays."

Part of what makes the Eagles' rushing attack so dangerous is the frequency with which they use the run-pass option plays (RPOs). In these plays, the quarterback reads the defense and decides whether to hand the ball off or run a play-action pass. Seattle's defense is aware of Philly's tendencies and is hoping to stop them from doing what they do best.

"They do a lot of RPOs and they've got a lot of different backs," Wagner said. "With Miles, definitely if you let him hit the hole pretty fast he can break (off a big play) pretty easy. We just have to make sure (close gaps) and come downhill and we'll be fine."

Sanders' speed is a major threat, but backup running back Boston Scott has also played well this season with Sanders missing time. Both Sanders and Scott have also been impressive working in the passing games, with 17 and 16 receptions, respectively.

Last year in the Seahawks' playoff win in Philadelphia, the Eagles rushed for 120 yards, including 69 from Sanders and 25 from Scott. These teams played twice last season, with the Seahawks winning both times by the same score of 17-9.

Wagner said that there aren't too many differences in their offense compared to last year based on what he's seen.

"I wouldn't say the differences that they've made are drastic or anything," Wagner said. "They just run some more of their plays that they maybe went away from last year. But it's a lot of the stuff that we've seen before. They do a lot of different gap schemes, run schemes, so that's different. They run a lot more traps and things of that nature that make you really have to be on your fits. That's the biggest difference, but it's all stuff we've seen before."

The Seahawks will look to make it seven straight wins over the Eagles (including playoffs) on Monday night in Philadelphia at 5:15 p.m., and slowing down the running game will certainly be a huge factor.

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