Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

The Seattle Seahawks (6-7) will attempt to end their four-game losing streak and start a late playoff push as they host the Philadelphia Eagles (10-3), losers of their two games, on “Monday Night Football.” Here are the top storylines and players to monitor for each team. 

When Eagles are on offense

Can the offense spark a turnaround?: While Philadelphia’s defense, which has allowed 75 points during its two-game skid, should bear the brunt of responsibility for the team’s struggles, the offense hasn’t fared much better. 

After averaging the third-most points in the NFL over the first 11 games (28.2), the Eagles have scored just two offensive touchdowns over the last two games, both coming in Week 13’s 42-19 loss to San Francisco. 

On a positive note for Philadelphia, the Seahawks defense has been just as poor as its own, so it could be well-positioned to explode offensively. Over the last six games, only the Eagles have allowed more yards than Seattle (2,453), with both giving up 180 points during that span, tied for the second-most in the league. 

A concerning illness for QB Jalen Hurts: Despite a favorable matchup, there’s no guarantee the Eagles will earn their first win over the Seahawks since 2008, especially if they don’t have their MVP-caliber quarterback. 

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Sunday that Philadelphia downgraded Hurts to questionable for Monday after a sickness that landed him on the injury report worsened on Saturday night. Schefter added that Hurts is still “harboring hopes of playing” and traveled to Seattle separately from the Eagles to avoid getting any coaches or teammates sick.

Should Hurts be unable to play, journeyman Marcus Mariota, the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by Tennessee, would start for the Eagles. Mariota has plenty of experience as a starter, posting a 34-40 career record, but has made just two appearances this season, completing two of three passes for 16 yards. 

Potential spot for RB D’Andre Swift to regain momentum?: With Hurts under the weather, it wouldn’t be shocking if Philadelphia devotes more attention to its running game. Regardless of whether their star quarterback plays, this could be advantageous for the Eagles, considering Seattle allows the 10th-most rushing yards per game (123.4). 

However, they’ll need a stronger performance from Swift in order to ensure success, as he has rushed for just 52 yards over the last two games.

Be sure to keep an eye on this rookie defender: Although Eagles DT Jalen Carter will likely take home Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, the Seahawks have their own first-year defender who has the makings of a superstar in CB Devon Witherspoon. 

The fifth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Witherspoon has racked up 10 passes defensed, three sacks and one interception, earning him the seventh-highest grade at the position by Pro Football Focus (83.3).

Additionally, Witherspoon has been on a historic pace in terms of shutting down wideouts, ranking fifth in receptions allowed over expected among rookies through Week 14 since 2018 (-6.3), according to Next Gen Stats.

When Seahawks are on offense

Another game without QB Geno Smith?: After missing last week’s 28-16 loss to San Francisco with a groin injury, Smith is listed as questionable for Monday and appears to be a game-time decision, which paves the way for backup Drew Lock to start. 

The former Broncos signal-caller completed 71% of his passes against the 49ers — his first start since 2021 — for 269 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Seahawks HC Pete Carroll might have told reporters he “was proud” of Lock’s performance, but the quarterback’s 8-14 career record as a starter doesn’t provide much optimism if he’s called upon again.

Nonetheless, whoever starts for Seattle is set up to have a productive outing since the Eagles allow the second-most passing touchdowns (29) and fifth-most passing yards per game this season (277.9). 

WR DK Metcalf: If the Seahawks intend to capitalize on an ineffective Eagles pass defense, Metcalf will have to be heavily involved. Metcalf has only played the Eagles twice in his career, but he scorched them during their latest meeting back in 2020, hauling in 10 of 13 targets for 177 yards. 

Smith suiting up would be a significant boost for Metcalf, as the Pro Bowl wideout has 21 receptions for 358 yards and four touchdowns in his last four games with his starting quarterback. 

A new play-caller for the Eagles defense: Aiming to alleviate their defensive difficulties, the Eagles are moving DC Sean Desai to the coaches’ booth and giving play calling duties to senior defensive assistant Matt Patricia, per Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer

Despite the switch, Desai will still hold the title of “defensive coordinator,” though it doesn’t bode well for his future, particularly if Patricia can help the defense look more like last season’s dominant unit. 

Eagles CB Darius Slay’s availability: Patricia’s first game won’t come without additional challenges, as the Eagles secondary will be without its leader for the foreseeable future. On Saturday, Eagles HC Nick Sirianni announced that Slay underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last week and will miss Monday’s contest. 

Although Sirianni didn’t specify when Slay will return, he assured the surgery is not expected to sideline him for the remainder of the regular season. 

In Slay’s absence, expect rookie cornerback Kelee Ringo, who played a season-high 22 snaps last week, to see more action. 

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