The Seahawks earned a well-deserved bye week after a hard fought overtime win against the 49ers in Week 10.
Fans can take solace in the fact that the Seahawks still have yet to play a complete football game. Fortunately, Pete Carroll's teams in Seattle have always finished strong and will need to do so again with a challenging upcoming schedule. Up next is a 5-5 Philadelphia Eagles squad that desperately needs a win to keep pace in the NFC East.
Keep an eye on these three X-factors as the Seahawks try to win a fourth straight game overall and a fifth consecutive matchup against the Eagles.
Offensive X-Factor: Josh Gordon
The strength of the Eagles defense is their defensive line. Led by All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, the Seahawks are going to have their hands full in the trenches. The avenue for the Seahawks to exploit will be through the short and intermediate passing game. Getting the ball out quickly will be imperative to limit Philly's pass rush and keep Russell Wilson upright, so matchups off the line have to be won on the outside. In a victory over the 49ers, Gordon stepped up twice with catches on crucial third downs, one of which was against shutdown cornerback Richard Sherman. I like what the Seahawks offer in terms of their receiving corps facing an inconsistent Eagles secondary and I am curious to see where exactly Gordon lines up.
Carroll has already stated there will be no limitations for Gordon heading into this week, which could open the playbook for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Getting off of a jam at the line could ensure that the Seahawks stay ahead of the chains. This is not a defense that the Seahawks can afford to be in third and long situations against, which would enable the Eagles front line to pin their ears back and get after Wilson. Based on his history, I have a great deal of trust in Gordon working against tight coverage and getting open, even after only a few weeks with the team. If he is able to do so, fans may get the treat of watching his dominant run after catch ability for the first time.
Defensive X-Factor: Quinton Jefferson
I considered Jadaveon Clowney for this spot, but as the week progressed, I am just hoping he has a chance to play. Instead, I opted for Jefferson, who has been one of the more consistent players on the defensive line. Coming into this game, Eagles star right tackle Lane Johnson is listed as out with a concussion. In all likelihood, Jefferson could be lined up across from first-round pick Andre Dillard, who Seahawk fans may know starred at Washington State. Dillard has quick feet and excels as a pass blocker, but has always played on the left side of the offense. When Jason Peters was nursing a knee injury, Dillard stepped in at that spot. Many offensive linemen have said the transition from one side to the other can be a difficult task, so I think the switch to right tackle could be challenging for Dillard.
Additionally, Dillard has never been a dominant run blocker and could struggle against a power rusher in pass protection. Considering those weaknesses, Seattle should look to exploit Dillard with Jefferson. He is the style of big bodied defender that could have his way both controlling the run game and driving the rookie tackle back into the lap of Carson Wentz as a bull rusher.
Special Teams X-Factor: Jason Myers
There's nothing new about this selection after I picked him as a wild card for the 49ers game, but I am going with Jason Myers again. After a tough week against the Bucs, he stepped up and was monumentally clutch to help the Seahawks win in Santa Clara. Certainly having the backing of Carroll and team rallying around him helped him maintain his belief in himself, which could be huge down the stretch.
A Pro Bowler for the Jets last year, the ability is certainty there and if Myers can find some consistency, the Seahawks may finally have solved their kicking problem that has hampered them for the last several years. Another solid game for the 29-year old veteran could go a long way towards showing he deserved the big four-year contract Seattle gave him this offseason.