A year ago, the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks made it to the playoffs as division winners. It will take a miracle for either to get back.
The Eagles and Seahawks meet Thursday night in Seattle with the loser moving even closer to becoming mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
Most sports books monitored by SportsOptions have installed the Eagles as three-point road favorites, with the total set at 43.
Philadelphia and Seattle are both 4-7, but the Eagles have easily been a bigger disappointment.
Nicknamed the Dream Team after acquiring defenders Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Jason Babin to go with their explosive offense, the Eagles already have more losses than last season’s 10-6 NFC East-winning team after giving up a season-high 457 yards in Sunday’s 38-20 loss to New England.
“You couldn’t even dream that record for this team with the talent we have,” receiver DeSean Jackson said.
Philadelphia – which will again be without Michael Vick – still has a slim shot at a playoff berth, trailing division-leading Dallas and the NFC’s wild-card leaders by three games.
With five games to go, though, that’s looking increasingly unlikely.
“These last five games? I think they’ll show the character,” rookie center Jason Kelce said. “Whenever you’re facing adversity, or whenever you’re put in a situation where it’s tough, you don’t know what the outcome is going to be for the year and everything else. I think true character. Everybody can play when you’re up and when things are going well, but when you’re backed into a corner, when you’re down, that’s when true character shows.”
The Seahawks, who at 7-9 last season became the first team with a losing record to win a division title since the 1970 merger, weren’t expected to make a Super Bowl run like the Eagles, but their season has still been discouraging.
Seattle, which will be eliminated from defending its NFC West crown with a loss, appeared to at least have a chance to get back into the playoff picture Sunday, leading Washington 17-7 with 10 minutes remaining. It had minus-nine yards of offense on its final four possessions, however, and lost 23-17.
“We just didn’t finish the game,” running back Leon Washington said. “You have to play four quarters and when you commit a lot of penalties, don’t make plays when you have to, that’s what happens.”
The Seahawks, who lost to Philadelphia 26-7 in the last meeting in 2008, have been their own worst enemy lately, committing an NFL-worst 56 penalties in five games since Week 8.
“It just comes back to discipline. We’ve just got to be more disciplined,” safety Kam Chancellor said. “We got to start at practice. We get penalties in practice and it shows in the game. So we just got to start at practice and be penalty-free in practice so it can carry over to the game.”
Penalties have also been an area of concern for the Eagles – they committed 10 on Sunday.
Vince Young will get a third straight start as Vick sits again because of broken ribs. Young threw for a career-best 400 yards against the Patriots, though much of that came late when the game was already decided.
Young would certainly benefit if Jackson stepped up and made some plays.
Jackson dropped three passes Sunday, including two that likely would have been touchdowns, and shied away from contact before being benched in the fourth quarter. He vowed he would bounce back against the Seahawks.
The Eagles better hope so, because they’re in desperate need of playmakers. Receiver Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) will miss his third straight game and Rodgers-Cromartie (ankle) is also out, while Asomugha (knee) and running back LeSean McCoy (toe) are questionable.
Even if Asomugha can’t go, Philadelphia’s defense should fare a bit better against Seattle after being carved up by Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Seahawks are 30th in the league in total offense (294.1 yards per game) and are averaging 15.2 points in their last six contests.
With Tarvaris Jackson accounting for three touchdowns and seven interceptions in the last five games, Seattle’s offense leans heavily on Marshawn Lynch. He ran for 111 yards Sunday, and is averaging an NFL-best 110.8 rushing yards in four November games.
McCoy leads the league in rushing with 1,050 yards, but with 10 carries Sunday, he didn’t get much of an opportunity.
“We have a lot of great players on this team and it’s hard to see us lose,” defensive end Trent Cole said. “We know what kind of talent we have, so we have to pull together. It’s hard. We’re not going to bow our heads, we’re going to keep them up and keep moving forward, go make plays and go win ball games.”