SEAHAWKS (11-5) AT EAGLES (9-7)
4:40 p.m. ET; NBC
With Marshawn Lynch returning to the fold, the Seattle Seahawks at least have some name recognition in their backfield.
The Philadelphia Eagles? Not so much.
That could make for an intriguing matchup when the NFC East champion Eagles (9-7) play host to the Seahawks (11-5) on Sunday in the NFL’s wild-card playoffs.
Despite a slew of injuries, quarterback Carson Wentz led the Eagles to four straight victories to close the regular season and claim the division title.
Wentz, the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, will be making his first playoff appearance. Nick Foles led the Eagles to the Super Bowl title two years ago and to the divisional round last season after Wentz went down with injuries.
“I’m grateful for my health, I’m grateful to be out here with the guys in these big meaningful games, playing into January,” Wentz told reporters this week. “The last few weeks have been backs against the wall for us. Guys have responded and stepped up and kept making play after play. Just kept believing, and here we are playing into January and hopefully do something special.”
The Eagles clinched the division title with a 34-17 victory at the New York Giants last weekend in a game they finished without seven offensive starters.
Miles Sanders left the game in the first half with an ankle injury, and fellow running back Jordan Howard played just one snap in his return after missing six games with shoulder woes.
Boston Scott, promoted from the practice squad in October, ran for three touchdowns against the Giants and led the team in rushing (54) and receiving (84) yards.
“The fact that I’ve had opportunities, (Eagles coach) Doug Pederson has had confidence in me, the coaching staff has had confidence in me, I’m really grateful to be out there, because I have definitely made mistakes, but it’s been cool,” the 5-foot-6 Scott said.
The Eagles, who lost wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor earlier in the season, also played without Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz against the Giants. On the offensive line, two-time Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson (ankle) didn’t play and three-time Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.
“We’ve had new playmakers every week, different guys stepping up because guys are getting hurt and banged up,” said Wentz, who completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 1,199 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions in the 4-0 finish. “It’s just fun to see guys step in big moments like that, guys who were on the practice squad. For them to step up in the way they have and for guys to make plays, it’s been so cool to see.
“I think that’s what makes it that much more fun to do what we did, and then hopefully we can go do something special.”
Ertz, who is battling a fractured rib and lacerated kidney, practiced on a limited basis Wednesday but has yet to be cleared for contact. Johnson was also limited, while Sanders and Agholor sat out.
The Seahawks, who were in position to claim the NFC’s No. 1 seed entering the final two weeks of the regular season, closed with home losses to Arizona and San Francisco to drop into a wild-card spot and the No. 5 seed.
They went 7-1 on the road this season, including a 17-9 victory at Philadelphia on Nov. 24.
Seattle’s backfield also has been decimated, with running backs Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and C.J. Prosise suffering season-ending injuries in a late three-week span.
That led the Seahawks to bring Lynch, who starred for them from 2010-15, out of retirement. “Beast Mode” electrified the home crowd with a 1-yard touchdown leap in a 26-21 loss Sunday night to the 49ers that decided the NFC West title, but Seattle was stopped inches short of the goal line on its final play.
“It felt good, but at the end of the day, you know, I play to win,” said Lynch, who rushed 12 times for 34 yards.
The Seahawks will likely be without four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown, who underwent minor knee surgery last week.
–Field Level Media