Birds Flying High
Seattle, WA - With All-Pro Brian Westbrook back in the lineup and Donovan McNabb scrambling and making plays, the Philadelphia Eagles look like they can make a run for the playoffs.
Westbrook and McNabb try to lead the Eagles to their third straight victory on Sunday when they visit the Seattle Seahawks, who are expected to be without quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for a fourth straight game.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Eagles -7 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 87% of bets for this game have been placed on Eagles -7 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Westbrook missed two of Philadelphia's past three games with broken ribs and had been bothered by an ankle injury, but looked strong in the Eagles' 27-14 win over Atlanta last Sunday.
He rushed for a career-high 167 yards and two touchdowns, nearly equaling his rushing total from his first four games combined (194).
The injuries still nagged Westbrook throughout the game, but he said, "Those are things you have to play through."
McNabb also looked rejuvenated last Sunday as he passed for 253 yards, scrambled for 25 yards on six carries and scored on a 3-yard run - his first rushing TD since Oct. 8, 2006. Injuries and age have slowed the formerly fleet-footed McNabb, who entered last week's game with only 20 yards rushing.
"It makes all the difference when you have a guy back there with the arm that Donovan has, but also has the ability to scramble and to make plays when there's no receivers open," Westbrook said.
The Eagles (4-3) hope the combination of a healthy Westbrook and McNabb can get the team back in the competitive NFC East race. Despite its winning record, Philadelphia is in last place in the division, trailing the New York Giants (6-1), Washington (6-2) and Dallas (5-3).
"The only thing we can focus on is what we are doing out here," McNabb said. "Hopefully we can continue to feed off each win and elevate ourselves in the standings in the NFC East and put ourselves in the position to achieve the goal we all have set out for."
The Eagles have been playing much better lately, racking up 815 total yards and 67 points in winning their last two games after gaining 594 yards and scoring 37 points in losing their previous two.
Philadelphia should also benefit from the increase in playing time of wide receiver Kevin Curtis. After missing the first six games while recovering from sports hernia surgery, Curtis caught three passes for 45 yards in limited action last Sunday. He had career highs of 77 receptions and 1,110 yards last season.
McNabb should have little trouble this week connecting with Curtis and rookie DeSean Jackson, who leads the team with 32 catches and 505 yards. The Seahawks (2-5) are 30th in the league against the pass, allowing 245.3 yards per game.
"We need to get on the run right now," said Westbrook, who rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles' 28-24 loss to the Seahawks last Dec. 2. "We need to have the opportunity, we have the opportunity to go up to Seattle and play a pretty good team and have to go out there and try to handle our business."
McNabb missed last season's loss to the Seahawks with an ankle injury, and this year's Seattle team will look much different to the Eagles.
The Seahawks' top rusher from a year ago, Shaun Alexander, now plays for Washington and Hasselbeck is sidelined by a leg problem stemming from a bulging disk in his back.
Seneca Wallace is expected to make his third straight start Sunday following an encouraging outing last week. After completing 12 of 23 passes for just 73 yards, a touchdown and turning the ball over twice in a 20-10 loss to Tampa Bay on Oct. 19, Wallace was 15-of-25 for 222 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers in last Sunday's 34-13 win over San Francisco.
"I told Seneca, I told our receivers ... 'Hey, look it, instead of being so careful about everything and almost calling the game defensively, we are going to kind of let it go a little bit. Everyone's getting paid in the room. So you have a responsibility, too. And let's play,'" said coach Mike Holmgren, who is in his 10th and final season leading the Seahawks. "And they responded to that.
"I suspect we will keep doing that."
Seattle will probably need to air it out again this week as they face a Philadelphia team that limited the Falcons to 77 rushing yards on 24 attempts last week. The Seahawks were held to a season-low 39 yards on 28 carries last Sunday.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
SEATTLE is 5-2 against the spread versus PHILADELPHIA since 1992
SEATTLE is 4-3 straight up against PHILADELPHIA since 1992
4 of 7 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
SEATTLE is 1-0 against the spread versus PHILADELPHIA over the last 3 seasons
SEATTLE is 1-0 straight up against PHILADELPHIA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at SEATTLE since 1992
SEATTLE is 2-2 against the spread versus PHILADELPHIA since 1992
PHILADELPHIA is 3-1 straight up against SEATTLE since 1992
2 of 4 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Key Player Injuries
[WR] Kevin Curtis missed last game, probable - Hernia - 10/12/08
[WR] Reggie Brown is "?" - Groin - 10/20/08
[OG] Shawn Andrews is out at least 6 weeks. - Back - 10/22/08
(!) [RB] Brian Westbrook upgraded to probable. - Ribs - 10/20/08
[CB] Jack Ikegwuonu IR - Knee - 08/27/08
[LB] Lofa Tatupu is upgraded to probable - Head - 10/21/08
[LB] Wesley Mallard IR. - Knee - 08/06/08
[TE] Will Heller missed last game, downgraded to expected to miss. - Knee - 10/23/08
[WR] Deion Branch missed last game, ~?~ - Heel - 10/19/08
[RG] Rob Sims IR - Pectoral - 09/09/08
[WR] Logan Payne IR - Knee - 09/15/08
[OG] Floyd Womack is "?". - Illness - 10/23/08
(!) [QB] Matt Hasselbeck missed last game, doubtful - Back - 10/19/08
[WR] Nate Burleson IR - Knee - 09/08/08
[WR] Ben Obomanu IR - Shoulder - 08/31/08
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Posted: 10/29/08 3:57PM ET