Countdown to kickoff

Greetings from CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks are getting ready to play only the second Thursday night home game in franchise history – with kickoff and televised coverage on the NFL Network scheduled for 5:20.

Tonight’s matchup is against the also 4-7 Philadelphia Eagles, who had to make a cross-country tip yesterday in addition to squeezing in everything else during this short week to prepare.

If you have any idea what to expect from either one of these teams, you need to join Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock in the broadcast booth. Because these teams have been, well, unpredictability unpredictable.

How can the Seahawks upset the Giants, on the road, in Week 5 and then score only three points in a three-point loss to the Browns in Cleveland in their next game? How can the Seahawks upset the Ravens, at home, in Week 10, and then lose at home to the Redskins on Sunday?

How can a team with all the talent the Eagles have be 4-7? How can an offense that is averaging 420.1 yards score only 17 points twice in its past three games? How can a team that features the Pro Bowl trio of Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Jason Babin on defense have games where it’s surrendered 38, 35, 31 and 30 points?

One thing I do know as the players are on the preparing for this matchup of misfits: This game needs to feature a whole lot of Marshawn Lynch and LeSean McCoy.

McCoy will be playing with a sore knee that has him listed as questionable and limited him in practice, but in addition to leading the NFL in rushing yards (1,050) and touchdowns (13), the Eagles’ versatile back has broken a run of at least 20 yards in seven consecutive games. He has the speed to test the Seahawks’ 11th-ranked run defense to the outside – as the NFC East rookie duo of the Redskins’ Roy Helu (108 yards) and Cowboys’ DeMarco Murray (139 yards) have done in Seattle’s past four games. But McCoy also has the cutback ability to exploit the middle of the defense if the Seahawks over pursue while trying to take away the edges.

Lynch, meanwhile, is on even more of a roll than it has appeared in the past four games. No back in the league has rushed for more than Lynch’s 443 yards since Week 9; and Lynch has 212 yards rushing after contact during this run, also the most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information stats passed along by Mike Sando at ESPN.com. Lynch will be running into an Eagles defense that was allowing an average of 140.2 rushing yards, but has held its past five opponents to an average of 85.3 yards.

There’s so much more to this game, including what will happen when the teams do pass. On one side there’s Babin, the former and rarely-used Seahawk, who has 10 sacks for the Eagles. On the other side there’s Chris Clemons, who the Seahawks obtained in a trade with the Eagles last year after he collected seven sacks in his limited role during two seasons in Philly. Clemons has eight sacks this season and had a career-high 11 last season.

The best way to neutralize those two? Run the ball with Lynch and McCoy.

We’re all about to see how this rarity of a game plays out, as the Seahawks try to recapture the mojo they had going in the back-to-back wins over the Ravens and Rams before tripping over the Redskins and themselves on Sunday; and the Eagles try to play to their potential and all the expectations they entered the season with.

Speaking of Clemons, here’s a feature on him that appears in tonight’s GameDay program and also at Seahawks.com.


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