SEATTLE — It took a moment for Bobby Wagner to recall four years ago and what it felt like to be on a team that was 10-1 at one point of the season.
“That was a long time ago. I just remember a lot of winning and a lot of laughter,” Wagner said. “It kind of just feels like you understand you are going to get everybody’s best game.
“I just remember teams would put in plays that they hadn’t practiced, hadn’t put on film, so we just had to prepare for a lot of things because when you’re that top dog, everybody wants to take you down and they will do whatever they can to take you down.”
A team that looks very similar to that 2013 version of the Seahawks comes to Seattle on Sunday night when the 10-1 Philadelphia Eagles visit, riding a nine-game win streak and showing many of the same characteristics of that Seattle team from four years ago that ended up winning a Super Bowl.
The Eagles have been pummeling opponents, winning the past four games by 20 or more points. Should they add the Seahawks to that list, they would join the 1999 Rams as the only teams in the Super Bowl era to win five straight games by at least 20.
They are led by a second-year quarterback in Carson Wentz who has blossomed in a similar way to how Russell Wilson did in his second year. The Eagles are committed to running the ball with LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi and are the best in the NFL at stopping the run.
If that all sounds familiar, it’s because that mimics much of the same formula Seattle used to become an NFC power.
And after winning in Carolina, Kansas City and thumping the Cowboys in Dallas, a victory in Seattle would add even more validity to the Eagles being the favorites in the NFC.
“Their confidence, each week, gets a little stronger and they enjoy playing together as units, offensively, defensively, and obviously on special teams and they are having fun doing it,” Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson said.
“That is a credit to the players and how well they prepare during the week. But yeah, they are gaining confidence in each other and it’s exciting to watch them play.”
Seattle has recently struggled at home. Combined with the loss of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril with season-ending injuries, some of the Seahawks are feeling as if they’re being overlooked even if they are still only one-game behind the Rams in the NFC West.
“It’s human nature. I’m not mad when people do that. I understand. I get it,” Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright said. “But in this building we’ve got to know who we are, stay true to what we do and believe in ourselves.”
Here’s what else to watch as Seattle goes for its fourth straight win over the Eagles:
Seattle hasn’t been this decided a home underdog since 2012 when Wilson was a rookie facing New England, and Sherman was the one walking off the field asking Tom Brady “U Mad Bro?” Playing in Seattle has been a fortress for most of Pete Carroll’s tenure, but the Seahawks have lost two straight at home. The previous time they dropped three in a row at CenturyLink Field? 2008.
The Eagles haven’t allowed a touchdown in the first quarter this season and have outscored opponents 78-18. That early advantage has made sure the Eagles don’t play from behind very often. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich gave Pederson credit for scripting the first 15 plays that have helped the team jump ahead early.
“The earlier you know what he’s thinking and how the plays are going to come down, there’s a little extra coaching that goes into those first 15 plays,” Reich said.
“There’s a lot of coaching that goes into all of it, but you certainly emphasize those first 15. You talk through a few more things. You get to practice those even on Saturdays sometimes one last time. You get an additional rep on them. I think all those things contribute to better execution.”
Seattle’s offense is almost exclusively on Wilson’s shoulders. For a change Wilson wasn’t Seattle’s leading rusher last Sunday against San Francisco; Eddie Lacy had 46 yards on 17 carries.
But for the season, Wilson has been responsible for 82.5 percent of Seattle’s total offense, passing and rushing. He remains Seattle’s leading rusher with 401 yards.
Ground and pound
While Wentz gets plenty of credit for Philadelphia’s offensive success — the Eagles lead the NFL with 351 points — the run game is doing its part.
The Eagles have rushed for at least 175 yards in three consecutive games for the first time since 1990 and at least 100 yards in 10 straight games, longest streak in the NFL.
Blount is still getting a bulk of the carries as Ajayi learns more of the offense. Blount, Ajayi and Corey Clement each have run for 50-plus yards twice in the past three games.