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FFL: Offseason | NFL: Divisional

Pressure nothing new for Eagles as they prepare for Seattle

Thu Jan 2 3:08pm ET
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: DeSean Jackson, Russell Wilson, Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Jason Myers, Joshua Perkins, Carson Wentz, Nelson Agholor, Greg Ward, Robert Davis, Jake Elliott, Boston Scott, Deontay Burnett, Miles Sanders

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson address a news conference after an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Seattle. The 49ers won 26-21. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)


Seattle Seahawks' John Ursua, left, makes a catch at the one-yard line to give the team a first down with less than a minute left as San Francisco 49ers' K'Waun Williams tackles during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Seattle. The 49ers won 26-21. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)


PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Philadelphia Eagles have been playing must-win games for a month to get to this point.

Now, it's win or go home.

The Eagles (9-7) will host the Seattle Seahawks (11-5) in an NFC wild-card playoff game Sunday after winning four straight games to secure their second division title in three years.

Pressure won't be new. Many players on Philadelphia's roster faced it during the 2017 Super Bowl run. For the new guys, they got to experience it throughout December when one loss in any of the last four games would've cost the team a playoff berth.

''The last month, they have been playoff-type games for us,'' coach Doug Pederson said. ''This team is battle-tested that way and we prepare that way.''

While the Eagles claw their way into the playoffs, the Seahawks enter on a three-game losing streak. Seattle would've clinched the NFC West and secured a home game this weekend with a win in Week 17 but lost 26-21 at home to the 49ers.

On the bright side, the Seahawks were better on the road this season, going 7-1. They beat the Eagles in Philly, 17-9, on Nov. 24.

''They finished great,'' Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of the Eagles. ''They know us. We know them. We game plan all over again and they do, too.''

Russell Wilson is 4-0 against the Eagles, including a win in Seattle over the eventual Super Bowl champions in December 2017 when Philadelphia came in at 10-1.

Carson Wentz will make his first career playoff start after missing the Super Bowl run because of knee surgery and last year's wild-card win due to a back injury.

''We know what's on the line and to some extent we've kind of felt that way the last few weeks,'' Wentz said. ''We've kind of had our backs against the wall. It's a one-game season, we're excited for it. It's going to be a fun one.''

DIGGS RETURNS

The return of playmaking safety Quandre Diggs is a big boost after the Seahawks lost several players to injuries the past few weeks. Diggs suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 15 but expects to play. The arrival of Diggs in a midseason trade from Detroit bolstered the secondary and seemed to solidify the defense. With Diggs on the field, Seattle was able to play more aggressive in coverages and when it brought pressures. In five games, Diggs has three interceptions, a forced fumble and a touchdown.

''The moment he got here he picked up the defense really, really quick,'' linebacker Bobby Wagner said. ''Started making checks really fast, understanding what checks we were making really, really fast. He's a really smart, intelligent dude who knows how to play the game of football at a really high level.''

THE UNKNOWNS

The Eagles finished Week 17 missing seven starters on offense. Wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and three-time Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks won't be back. Running back Miles Sanders (ankle) is expected to return. Tight end Zach Ertz (ribs, back) and right tackle Lane Johnson (ankle) are uncertain. In their absence, the Eagles relied on five players off the practice squad who've been cut 18 times in their careers. Running back Boston Scott, tight end Josh Perkins and wide receivers Greg Ward, Deontay Burnett and Robert Davis combined for 16 catches for 255 yards, 54 yards rushing and four TDs against the Giants.

PROTECT RUSS

Wilson has been sacked 26 times in the past seven games, including a season-high six times by the Eagles in the first matchup. Not surprisingly, his passer rating in those games is just 90.7 and his yards per attempt is just 7.2. Protection has been an issue for Seattle and is likely to remain that way. Center Joey Hunt has played well since starter Justin Britt was lost for the season to a torn ACL, but Hunt is undersized and has been bullied at times. He'll go against five-time Pro Bowl tackle Fletcher Cox. Left tackle Duane Brown is expected to miss the game after minor knee surgery a couple of weeks ago. George Fant played well in Week 17 but starting Fant prevents Seattle from using him as an extra tight end in a formation that's been productive this season.

IRONMAN MALCOLM

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins has played 2,420 consecutive snaps since the start of the 2017 playoffs and also plays on special teams. Jenkins led the Eagles with 80 tackles, forced four fumbles and had 2 1/2 sacks. He plays everywhere on defense, in the secondary at linebacker in some formations.

THE KICKERS

Seahawks kicker Jason Myers was 23 of 28 on field goals, including 17 of 17 from inside 40 yards. He made 40 of 44 extra points. Eagles kicker Jake Elliott was 22 of 26 on field goals, missing four in the final five games. He was 35 of 37 on extra points.

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Baltimore Ravens Jan 15 9:00pm ET

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New Orleans Saints Jan 15 9:00pm ET

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Cooper Kupp Jan 15 8:50pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (knee) is listed as questionable for the Divisional Round against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday. Kupp missed practice all week, so fantasy managers should certainly be way of quarterback Jared Goff's top target if he's active this weekend. Kupp's injury wasn't deemed serious last weekend when he left late in the wild-card win over the Seahawks, but it could very well limit him if he suits up against Green Bay. Wide receivers Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds and rookie Van Jefferson could see more targets if Kupp has his snaps limited, but all of LA's pass-catchers should be knocked down a peg with Goff fighting through a surgically repaired right thumb.

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Matt Ryan Jan 15 8:40pm ET

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Chris Godwin Jan 15 7:43pm ET

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Rob Gronkowski Jan 15 7:30pm ET

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Jared Cook Jan 15 7:23pm ET

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Antonio Brown Jan 15 7:20pm ET

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Taysom Hill Jan 15 7:13pm ET

New Orleans Saints QB Taysom Hill (knee) was upgraded to a limited practice Friday, Jan. 15, and is listed as questionable for the NFC Divisional Round game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Fantasy Spin: Hill hasn't missed a game over the last three seasons, so the odds are that he'll be able to play this weekend. The versatile 30-year-old typically plays about 20 offensive snaps per game when Drew Brees is healthy and has scored 13 total touchdowns this season as a passer, rusher or receiver. Hill doesn't possess a lot of fantasy value in playoff leagues, but he could be considered a low-end QB1 in 2021 should Brees opt to retire at the end of this season.

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Chris Godwin Jan 15 7:00pm ET

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Latavius Murray Jan 15 6:53pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: It's encouraging for his prospects to play that he was able to get in a limited session Friday after missing the first two practices of the week, but he was unlikely to play much of a role in this game anyway with the Buccaneers being so stout against the run. His potential absence would likely lock Alvin Kamara in for 20 touches and could make Ty Montgomery worthy of a punt play in DFS.

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Josh Gordon Jan 15 6:43pm ET

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Mike Evans Jan 15 6:30pm ET

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Jarvis Landry Jan 15 6:13pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Landry should be expected to get a full complement of snaps in what should be a high-scoring game. As a player who should be considered a lock for seven or eight targets, he's a solid mid-priced receiver option in DFS with significant upside.

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