Five things to watch: Seahawks-Eagles

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
9:30
AM ET
Five things I'll be watching for when the Seattle Seahawks face the Philadelphia Eagles at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night:

Marshawn Lynch's ongoing revival. Lynch has 443 yards rushing since Week 9, most in the league. He has topped 100 yards in three of the Seahawks' past four games. Lynch appears to be running with more confidence now that his offensive line is opening holes more consistently. The Eagles' past five opponents have averaged only 85.3 yards per game, down from 140.2 previously this season. Seattle needs a running threat to minimize the Eagles' pass rush. The hard-running Lynch showcased nationally against New Orleans in the playoffs has marked his game recently as well. Lynch has 212 yards rushing after contact since Week 9, most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That's up from 127 yards after contact through Week 8.

[+] EnlargeChris Clemons
AP Photo/Julio CortezChris Clemons brings a Seattle-leading eight sacks into the meeting with the team that traded him.
Clemons against his former team. The Eagles generally haven't regretted the higher-profile trades they've made in recent years. Sending quarterback Donovan McNabb to a division rival comes to mind. Seattle came out ahead when acquiring Chris Clemons from Philadelphia for Darryl Tapp and a fourth-round draft choice. This will be Clemons' first game against the Eagles since the trade. He leads the Seahawks in sacks with eight, but Philadelphia has allowed only three in its last four road games. Clemons faces a tough matchup against Eagles left tackle Jason Peters.

Size against speed on the outside. The Seahawks' big cornerbacks, Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, each picked off a pass last week. They have the size to throw off bigger receivers. Raw speed can be tougher to handle, as Browner found out against the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Wallace. The Eagles are without starting wideout Jeremy Maclin, but they still have DeSean Jackson. Jackson hasn't topped 100 yards receiving since an Oct. 2 game against San Francisco. He's averaging 17.0 yards per catch, though. Browner leads the NFL in penalties with 16, including 10 for defensive holding, defensive pass interference or illegal contact. A calf injury limited Sherman in practice this week. The Seahawks listed him as questionable. Eagles quarterback Vince Young has three touchdowns with no interceptions on his 40 shorter passes (those traveling 10 or fewer yards past the line of scrimmage). He has no TDs and five picks on his 45 longer throws, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Breno Giacomini at right tackle. He faces a difficult matchup against Jason Babin, who leads the Eagles in sacks with 10. Giacomini seemed to fare well against Ryan Kerrigan and the Washington Redskins last week. He's fiery, competitive and likes to hit people. The Seahawks can help him by running the ball at Babin. They might need to help Giacomini in obvious pass-rushing situations, however. Babin spent part of the 2008 season with Seattle. He has 22.5 sacks in his past 27 games after collecting 4.5 over the previous three.

Concerns at linebacker. Knee problems are again bothering Seahawks middle linebacker David Hawthorne. His movement appeared restricted against the Redskins. Hawthorne was limited in practice this week. Seattle's run defense should improve with Alan Branch returning from an ankle injury, but Hawthorne's status will be important if the Eagles lean on LeSean McCoy. Philadelphia had only 17 rushing plays against New England last week, its lowest total in a game since Week 17 of the 2009 season.

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