After an impressive statement victory in Week 10 against the New England Patriots, Earl Thomas III and the Seattle Seahawks (6-2-1) will return home to face the Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) on Sunday afternoon.
Similar to the Hawks, the Eagles are also flying high after a notable win over the Atlanta Falcons last week. With both teams feeling confident, Sunday’s contest will be a tough battle for both sides involved. But it’s also exactly the type of challenge Earl loves.
“I’m trying to be the best to ever do this thing,” Earl said this week. “For the next generation, when they watch a safety, I want them to emulate me.”
Earl and the defense will be tasked with shutting down rookie quarterback Carson Wentz and a Top 5 scoring offense in the NFC if they want to keep their momentum rolling. As ET III and the L.O.B. devise a plan to make life difficult for Wentz, the rookie is also studying the Seahawks defense and focusing on No. 29.
The Eagles’ QB, who has fans around Philly excited for the future, explained what he saw on tape when trying to prepare for going up against an elite defender like Earl.
“[Thomas] is all over the field,” Wentz said. “He’ll start on the backside numbers and he’ll end up making a play on the far sideline. The guy can cover some ground. I don’t know if I’ve seen anyone on film quite like that. It’s pretty impressive. The guy’s instinctive, you can tell he studies tape, he’s a smart football player and it looks like they give him a little bit of freedom back there as well. He’s definitely someone we have to keep an eye out for because like I said, he’s all over the place and he makes lots of plays.”
Philadelphia doesn’t have the deepest group of wide outs, but the talented Jordan Matthews is a solid No. 1 receiver. Matthews has been reliable lately with 23 receptions, 226 yards and a touchdown in his last three outings.
Eagles’ running back Ryan Mathews has had an up-and-down season but exploded last week for 108 rushing yards, two touchdowns and a 2-point conversion. Pass-catching back Darren Sproles is a consistent threat as well, as the speedy veteran still has the skillset to burst out for a big play or a special team’s touchdown at any time. The Eagles’ top tight end, Zach Ertz, is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. He missed practice Thursday but returned to practice in full Friday.
When it comes to how the Eagles offense is preparing to crack the Legion of Boom, head coach Doug Pederson knows it will be no easy task for his group. He had high praise for Seahawks defense this week, citing their level of aggression and how they feed off the crowd noise at home.
“Defensively they are playing extremely fast and they’re aggressive on defense. They’re keeping these teams in third and long situations, in a lot of third and long situations. Then of course you factor in the crowd in those situations, it just makes it that much harder to execute on offense,” Pederson said. “Seattle is playing well, coming off a great win the other night at New England, that was huge for them. Just looking forward to the opportunity.”
Sunday’s game is slated to kick off at 1:25 p.m. PT from CenturyLink Field and will be aired on CBS.