By Charles Jay
I don’t know how soon you or I would be up and around again if we suffered a broken rib and a lacerated kidney, but Zach Ertz, the Pro Bowl tight end of the Philadelphia Eagles, is going to be back in action and taking hits just a couple of weeks after suffering those injuries against the Dallas Cowboys. That could be a great boon for the Philadelphia offense, even if Ertz can’t make a major contribution. They will take the field at the “Linc” on Sunday afternoon against the Seattle Seahawks in an NFC wild-card matchup.
It begins at 4:40 PM ET, and while it is being televised on NBC, BetAnySports customers can place wagers in real-time as they access the software from Sports Betting Ultra.
The Eagles get to host this game because they were the champions of the NFC East, even with a 9-7 mark (7-9 against the points). The Seahawks, with a 11-5 straight-up record (7-8-1 ATS) barely missed out on winning in the West. Ertz was cleared to play on Saturday, and barring something unforeseen that would happen in warm-ups, he’s going to be in the lineup.
This is critical, for a couple reasons. One is that the Eagles depend so much on throwing to the tight end. In fact, no other NFL team does it nearly as often. With their three top wide receivers (Nelson Agholor, DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery) out of this game with injuries, it will become more of a focus. On top of that, the Seahawks were next-to-last in the league with regard to receptions and receiving yards surrendered to the tight end position. So the Eagles are in a position where they will emphasize something that exploits a Seattle weakness.
In the NFC wild-card odds that have been posted on this game, Seattle is a slight favorite:
Seattle Seahawks -1
Over 44.5 points -110
Under 44.5 points -110
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Dallas Goedert is the other tight end for the Eagles, and if Ertz is not operating at 100% capacity, you’ll see a heavier workload. We don’t expect that to be a handicap for Philadelphia; Goedert was the team’s second round draft choice last season out of South Dakota State, and not only has he averaged about the same yardage per reception as Ertz, he also offers a higher completion rate at 67%. This is a big help to Carson Wentz, who is making his first career playoff start.
Seattle knows that Philadelphia is going with second-tier wide receivers, so perhaps head coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. (son of the former heavyweight champ) can dial up a scheme to give those tight ends some extra attention. They will have the services of safety Quandre Diggs, who is so useful that when he was traded to Seattle by the Detroit Lions, Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay had himself a tantrum.
We understand that Philadelphia might be able to advance its mid-range passing game here, but you also have to remember that they are missing a couple of Pro Bowl offensive linemen in Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks. This is just not a team in very good physical shape, at least on the offensive side of the football. Marshawn Lynch should make more of a contribution for Seattle in his second week with the team, as they are opening the entire playbook up to him and we give Russell Wilson a big edge over Wentz, primarily because he can make plays in so many different ways, isn’t intimidated by any situation, and has far more experience in post-season situations. Seattle is also 7-1 on the road with a previous win at Philadelphia, where they held the Eagles to nine points So for us, it’s the Seahawks in this situation.
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