Frank Doyle previews tonight’s Battle of the Birds between the Eagles and the Seahawks!
Not many teams win at Seattle. Philadelphia is one of those that do. The Eagles are 5-2 straight up in trips to the Seahawks since Seattle joined the League as an expansion team in the 1970s, and haven’t lost in the Northwest since 1995.
If that sounds a little like clutching at sports betting straws, that’s because it is. After a season of such rich promise, nothing has gone right for Philadelphia, and more or less everything has gone wrong. A pre-season Super Bowl favorite, the Eagles are a 66/1 shot now and a loss tonight at Seattle will surely seal the Eagles’ doom.
Michael Vick was to the straw that stirred the drink, but he’s sidelined with a rib injury and is replaced by Vince Young, the man who called the Eagles a dream team in the first place. Young has a good record as an NFL starter, but he’s not in the same League as Vick. Not at all.
Young still better than the Seahawks’ options under center. Neither Tarvaris Jackson, who starts tonight, nor Charlie Whitehurst, are NFL starting quarterback calibre, and that’s one of the reasons that Seattle has struggled this year. But even though they’re underdogs tonight, the Seahawks have advantages that Philly doesn’t.
The first is a solid running game, which the Seahawks have been relying on in recent weeks. And the second is superior coaching. There were doubts that Pete Carroll’s rah-rah-rah, come-on-you-guys style could cut it in the NFL but Carroll’s proved himself shrewder than his public image would suggest.
Coaching has been an issue for the Eagles, and Andy Reid’s time may be coming to a close. There are stories coming from Philadelphia about position coaches fighting, and DeSean Jackson’s mind doesn’t seem to be entirely where it ought to be. None of those are good omens for Philly bettors.
Philly has the most to play for tonight. The Eagles still have a slim chance of the playoffs while Seattle has none at all. But there’s a difference between what you want to do and what you can do.
Philly wants Vince Young to be more accurate. Seattle has given up on T-Jack, and will pound the running game for all it’s worth. If Philly can get an early lead, Seattle won’t be able to catch up. But if the game stays close there’s a good chance of the cracks in the Eagles’ team and general organisation getting wider and another game slipping away. If that happens, it’s the final nail in the coffin of the Eagles’ 2011 season.