Ea­gles take road woes to Seattle

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA » To get to where the Ea­gles want to go, they’re go­ing to need a road win.

The Birds are un­beaten at Lincoln Fi­nan­cial Field this sea­son. They’ve lost four of five away games.

With a 5-4 record, it’s pos­si­ble, but highly un­likely, the Ea­gles can get into the play­offs by win­ning out in their last four home games.

Right now the Ea­gles are the sev­enth seed in the NFC where, we all know, only the first six seeds are in the play­offs. The Birds also are last in the NFC East.

Dal­las (8-1) is the first seed in the NFC, fol­lowed by the Seattle Seahawks, the Ea­gles’ op­po­nent Sun­day at Cen­tury Link Field. The third seed is At­lanta (64), fol­lowed by De­troit (5-4), the New York Giants (6-3) and Wash­ing­ton (5-3-1).

With the ex­cep­tion of the Seahawks (6-2-1), who are 6½ point fa­vorites this week­end, the Ea­gles have lost to all of those teams ex­cept At­lanta. Not a good place to be in terms of tiebreak­ers.

The 4-0 home dom­i­nance ver­sus the road in­ep­ti­tude is an is­sue that puz­zles the Ea­gles more than their crit­ics. The Birds have lost four of five road games by seven or fewer points.

“It’s crazy be­cause lit­er­ally last year, it was a to­tally dif­fer­ent story,” Ea­gles lead­ing re­ceiver Jor­dan Matthews said. “We played bet­ter on the road and we were ter­ri­ble at home. I know for a fact we’re feed­ing off this en­ergy from the crowd at home. It’s been great. We can’t say enough about the fans com­ing out and sup­port­ing the way they do.”

Matthews of­fered an­other per­spec­tive on the road strug­gles. It’s en­tirely pos­si­ble, for ex­am­ple, that the Ea­gles are guilty of play­ing to the level of com­pe­ti­tion.

The home vic­to­ries are largely against solid teams, in­clud­ing the pre­vi­ously un­beaten Pitts­burgh Steel­ers and Min­nesota Vik­ings, as well as the ex­plo­sive Fal­cons.

“I just think guys are juiced up and a lot of our home games have been big games we felt like we’ve got to go out and win,” Matthews said. “Now we’ve got to take that same ap­proach and add it to ev­ery sin­gle game. Go­ing into the Steel­ers game, there were a lot of peo­ple say­ing we didn’t have a chance. We went out there and got the job done. Same way with the Vik­ings. I think even com­ing into (the At­lanta) game, a lot of peo­ple prob­a­bly kind of thought we were on the down­hill slope. So we’ve just got to take that same ag­gres­sion into each game no mat­ter who we’re play­ing.”

Last year the Ea­gles were 4-4 on the road and 3-5 at the Linc.

In 2014 the Ea­gles were 6-2 at home and 4-4 on the road.

Three years ago the Birds were just 4-4 at home and 6-2 on the road.

Why is this Ea­gles team so shaky on the road?

“Be­cause I think we kind of hear you all talk about us los­ing,” de­fen­sive end Bran­don Gra­ham said, only half kid­ding af­ter the win over the Fal­cons. “All of you picked us to lose. But I don’t know, man. We need to bring that en­ergy that we brought to prac­tice last week be­cause it was a home game, and take it and carry it over to these away games. As you can see, the teams that win in this league are the ones that can win away games.”

The Seahawks are on a pretty good roll them­selves. They’re un­beaten at home. Quar­ter­back Rus­sell Wil­son has con­nected on 68.6 per­cent of his throws for 2,422 yards and 10 TDs with two in­ter­cep­tions and a 99.4 rat­ing. The de­fense is al­low­ing just 17.5 points per game.

“It’s go­ing to be tough be­cause we’re go­ing into a hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment,” said Gra­ham, who leads the Ea­gles with 5 sacks.

The Ea­gles have mo­men­tum. Rookie quar­ter­back Car­son Wentz is com­ing off his first fourth-quar­ter come­back vic­tory. He’s com­pleted 65 per­cent of his at­tempts for 2,121 yards and nine TDs with five in­ter­cep­tions and an 87.6 rat­ing.

The Ea­gles, though, have lost four of their last five games in the series with the Seahawks, who are 4-0 at Cen­tury Link Field this sea­son.

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