BY SPNW Staff 06:30AM 12/01/2011

Eagles A Slight Favorite Over Seahawks

The Seahawks play the Philadelphia Eagles in a Thursday night game, the team’s first Thursday contest since Nov. 22, 2008, when Seattle lost at Dallas 34-9.

Seahawks receiver Golden Tate (81) will have a more prominent role in the Seahawks offense now that Sidney Rice has been placed on injured reserve (concussion). / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

GAME: Eagles (4-7) at Seahawks (4-7). WHEN: Thursday, 5:20 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 13th (Eagles lead 7-5). LINE: Eagles by 3. TV/RADIO: NFLN / ESPN-710.

Quarterback situations are among the chief subplots of Thursday night’s Seahawks-Eagles game at CenturyLink Field. For Seattle, it’s uncertain whether Tarvaris Jackson, still suffering from a torn pectoral muscle, will be able to play effectively on only four days rest, although he had his best day of practice Wednesday in what Coach Pete Carroll described it a “good sign.”

“It’s been a positive for him,” Carroll added. “He just feels better. He’s stronger than he’s been. Even in the short week’s time, we’re even more surprised by that.  So it’s a good deal for us and for him and we’re getting ready to crank it up and go.  It’s a big deal.”

In the past few weeks, Jackson hasn’t even started to throw until Thursday, and his passing numbers have dropped every week.

Jackson threw for 221 yards against Dallas, 217 against Baltimore, 148 against St. Louis and 144 against Washington. In those games, Jackson has tossed three touchdown passes and six interceptions.

For the Eagles, it’s still uncertain whether Vince Young or Michael Vick will start against the Seahawks, although it probably will be Young. Young played the last two games due to Vick’s broken ribs. Young threw for a career-best 400 yards against the Patriots.

According to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, it’s a moot point whether it’s Young or Vick at quarterback.

“It doesn’t matter who is playing quarterback in terms of how many yards they can put up and the style of offense – they’re wide open,” said Carroll. “LeSean McCoy is a terrific runner. He’s as dangerous as anybody we’ll see all season and they can build the whole day around him. That’s a big deal for us. They’re rushing for almost 160 yards a game and they’re a good third-down team. They’re just a very, very good team. They’re really active on defense and very fast. Regardless of what schedules have allowed here, along with the records, we see this as a difficult matchup and an exciting one.”

Regardless of how the quarterback situations play out, it is sure now that both the Seahawks Seahawks and Eagles are merely playing out their 2011 schedules. Seattle, which had won two straight to start the second half, gave away a game last Sunday to Washington, which entered the contest with a six-game losing streak, by blowing a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles (4-7) are in disarray. Last Sunday in Phildelphia, where they lost to New England, fans began chanting: “Fire Andy!” (Reid) in the third quarter and the always sold-out stadium was nearly empty by the end. Defensive line coach Jim Washburn exchanged words with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg in the first half. DeSean Jackson dropped three passes, including two that should’ve been touchdowns, and the wideout clearly shied away from contact before getting benched.

Compounding Philly’s woes: plenty of injuries and the fact that a number of high-priced free agents haven’t panned out.

“I’m not into the frustration part,” said head coach Andy Reid earlier this week. ”I think as players and coaches, you’re problem solvers, and so we’ve got to take care of business and get better. So that’s the thing that you can control and continue to work fundamentals and techniques and schemes and get better as a coach and as a player.”

RIVALRY: The Seahawks-Eagles rivalry dates to Dec. 12, 1976, when Philadelphia scored a 27-10 win in the City of Brotherly Love. Two Eagles, Tom Sullivan (121) and Mike Hogan (104), exceeded 100 yards rushing. For Seattle, Steve Largent caught seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown . . . Philadelphia has won three of its past five meetings against Seattle . . . In the 12 games played in the series, Philadelphia has outscored Seattle by just one point, 243-242.

LAST MEETING: On Nov. 2, 2008, Donovan McNabb threw for 349 yards and a touchdown and David Akers kicked four field goals, leading the Eagles to a 26-7 win at Qwest (now CenturyLink) Field. In the first quarter, Seneca Wallace and Koren Robinson teamed up on a Seattle-record 90-yard touchdown pass.

LAST WEEK: The Seahawks lost to the Washington Redskins 23-17 and had their winning streak snapped at two by a team that entered the game with a six-game losing streak. The Eagles lost to the Patriots 38-20 despite Vince Young’s 400 passing yards.

COACHES: Pete Carroll is in his second season as head coach of the Seahawks. In 2010, he directed Seattle to the NFC West title, the Seahawks becoming the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing (7-9) record. Prior to joining the Seahawks, Carroll served as head coach at Southern California, where his Trojans won seven national championships.

Andy Reid: Reid has been head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles since 1999, and the team’s executive vice president of football operations since 2001. During his tenure, Reid has led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games and to a Super Bowl appearance following the 2004 season. Reid, 132-89-1 in Philadelphia, coached Green Bay’s offensive line before joining the Eagles. He got his coaching start as a graduate assistant at BYU in 1982.

SEAHAWKS STATS / NOTES: The Seahawks placed wide receiver Sidney Rice on injured reserve Wednesday. Rice suffered a concussion against Washington last Sunday . . . Despite Marshawn Lynch’s recent spate of 100-yard rushing games (three in the past four weeks), Seattle ranks only 30th in average yards per game at 294.1 . . . The Seahawks rank 26th in points per game at 26.1 . . . The Seahawks also rank 15th in total points allowed, 14th in yards allowed and 11th in rushing yards allowed . . . Lynch has rushed for 706 yards in 10 games. Last year, in 12 for Seattle (following his acquisition from Buffalo), he ran for 573. Lynch is averaging 70.6 yards per game, best since his rookie year with Buffalo in 2007 when he averaged 85.8.

EAGLES STATS / NOTES: The Eagles are averaging 420.1 yards per game, third in the NFL to New Orleans (449.6) and New England (429.5). Despite their yards-per-game average, the Eagles only rank 14th in points per game at 23.4 . . . “When you add turnovers to the red zone (inefficiency), there’s your answer right there,” said coach Andy Reid. “So we’ve got to do a better job in the turnover game.  And also crucial penalties in crucial situation — you can’t have those and expect consistency, especially in the red zone.”  . . . Although held to 31 rushing yards last week against New England, LaSean McCoy leads Philadelphia with 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. McCoy is averaging 95.5 rushing yards per game.

Art Thiel

ART THIEL’S TAKE: Let me say first that NFL Thursday night games suck with the power of a dozen black holes. Aside from the civic nuisance of a drive-time start, it’s purely a come-on to push the NFL Network premium cable channel on people who are already paying too much for sports content. Can’t believe the NFL players union accepted games on three days rest.

Regarding the matchup, this is a weird one to call– two 4-7 teams coming off home losses playing on short rest with a lot of backup players. I suspect that special teams will be decisive — a kick return, blocked punt or field goal, something unusual because of fatigue and shorthandedness. The injury absence of Vick leaves the QB spot to backup Young, who showed he can still throw (400 yards) and run (40 yards) against New England Sunday, but will be in trouble against the Seahawks’ defensive pressure.

The Seahawks have a short turnaround from a terrible and almost inexplicable fourth quarter against Washington Sunday. Seahawks QB Jackson and his suddenly iron-handed receiving corps have to get at least 250 yards passing to get the Eagles D to play Marshawn Lynch honestly. Don’t think the replacement linemen are up to it. Philadelphia 24, Seahawks 13.

Steve Rudman

STEVE RUDMAN’S TAKE: The Seahawks had a fabulous opportunity to put together a five-game winning streak (something they haven’t done since midway through the 2007 season) but botched their shot by giving away last Sunday’s game to the Washington Redskins, who had lost six in a row.

In Philadelphia, Thursday night’s opponent, the Seahawks are facing a team with more problems than the Seahawks have, if that’s possible. Seattle’s issues are youth, talent and injury related. Philadelphia’s involve issues related to poor team chemistry, high-priced free agents not performing as they were expected to, and even in-fighting among the coaches.

It’s won’t make much difference whether Michael Vick, injured the past two weeks, or Vince Young gets the call at quarterback. For Seattle, issue is whether Tarvaris Jackson will be able to get through the game. Obviously the torn pectoral muscle is seriously hampering him. If Jackson can’t go, Charlie Whitehurst will have to. And then Seahawks have no chance of going. Eagles 21, Seahawks 17.

TOY DRIVE: The Seattle Seahawks and Marine Toys for Tots Foundation will have representatives at CenturyLink Field for the annual toy drive during the Thursday night game versus the Philadelphia Eagles on December 1. Touchdown City opens at 2 p.m., stadium gates open at 3 p.m. and kickoff is scheduled for 5:20 p.m. For tickets, visit www.Seahawks.com/tickets. Volunteers will be collecting new and unwrapped toys or cash donations in Touchdown City, all gate locations and at the Bekins Moving & Storage Co. truck located outside the northwest gate.

COMING UP: After playing the Eagles, the Seahawks will face the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field on Monday, Dec. 12. The Seahawks defeated the Rams two weeks ago in the Edward Jones Dome, 24-7. Seattle plays two of its final three (at Chicago Dec. 18 and at Arizona Jan. 1) on the road.

2011 Seahawks Schedule/Results

Date Opponent Time TV W/L Score Rec.
9/11/11 at San Francisco 1:15 p.m. FOX L 33-17 0-1
9/18/11 at Pittsburgh 10 a.m. FOX L 24-0 0-2
9/25/11 vs. Arizona 1:15 p.m. FOX W 13-10 1-2
10/2/11 vs. Atlanta 1:05 p.m. FOX L 30-28 1-3
10/9/11 at N.Y. Giants 10 a.m. FOX W 36-25 2-3
10/16/11 BYE Week
10/23/11 at Cleveland 10 a.m. FOX L 6-3 2-4
10/30/11 vs. Cincinnati 1:15 p.m. CBS L 34-12 2-5
11/6/11 at Dallas 10 a.m. FOX L 23-13 2-6
11/13/11 vs. Baltimore 1:05 p.m. CBS W 22-17 3-6
11/20/11 at St. Louis 1:05 p.m. FOX W 24-7 4-6
11/27/11 vs. Washington 1:05 p.m. FOX L 23-17 4-7
12/1/11 vs. Philadelphia 5:20 p.m. NFLN
12/12/11 vs. St. Louis 5:30 p.m. ESPN
12/18/11 at Chicago 10 a.m. FOX
12/24/11 vs. San Francisco 1:15 p.m. FOX
1/1/12 at Arizona 1:15 p.m. FOX

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