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Wild Card Round Comparisons: Running Backs

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Leading up to the Eagles match-up with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Sports Talk Philly and Eagledelphia will compare the personnel of the two teams each day until gameday is here.

In this edition of our week-long comparison, we will look at the running backs that the Eagles and Seahawks will field on Sunday.


Philadelphia RBs | Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, Boston Scott

Note: This article was written prior to the Elijah Holyfield signing.

Second-round pick Miles Sanders has made a compelling case for the rookie of the year vote. In the regular season, he lead all non-QB rookies in all-purpose yardage (1,641) and in yards from scrimmage (1,327). In fact, Sanders was seventh in the league in all-purpose yardage during the reagular season. This comes off the heels of a poor start to the season where he was used as the third back in the rotation.

He entered the league with questions about his blocking, catching and ball control skills, but has show tremendous blocking abilities throughout the season as well as having caught 50 passes for 509 yards. Three of his six touchdowns also came via reception. As for the ball control issue, Sanders fumbled twice in week three and hasn't lost the ball since then.

The season's starter, Jordan Howard provides a powerful back to punish defenses. He appeared in just nine games over the course of the regular season if you exclude the week 17 game where he played a single snap as a decoy.

In those nine games, Howard had 525 yards on the ground with six touchdowns. He averaged 4.41 yards per carry and add 10 receptions for 69 yards and another touchdown.

Howard is difficult to project going forward since it is unclear how game ready he is and how re-integrated the Eagles have gotten him.

Finally, the Eagles have practice squad legend Boston Scott.

Scott was called up mid-way through the season, but didn't see much action until week fourteen. In those final four games, he averaged 3.97 yards per carry and 8.65 yards per reception, totaling 151 rushing yards, 199 receiving yards and four touchdowns.


Seattle RBs | Travis Homer, Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin

Seattle is in desperate shape at running back with their their top three running backs landing on injured reserve. If this match-up were against anyone other than Philly, who was also missing their top four running backs in last weeks game, that level of injury might seem crazy.

The player with the most carries for Seattle on the season (among the running backs on the active roster) is sixth-round rookie Travis Homer who has a total of 18 rushing attempts for 114 yards and 11 receptions for 56 yards.

Behind him are two veterans signed to the team just a week ago in Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin.

Lynch was with the Oakland raiders last season and averaged 4.2 yards per attempt in the first six games before suffering a groin injury that ended up putting him on injured reserve before his retirement. In his lone game this season, received 12 of the 22 carries (with Homer getting the rest) and gained just 34 yards for a 2.83 average. He did manage to score an impressive touchdown by leaping over the pile at the goal line, however.

Turbin was signed, but didn't have any stats last weekend. His last few seasons have seen him land on IR, receive a suspension for PED use and get cut. He was not with a team at any point in 2019 prior to last week. In his last 23 games in the leage (not including last Sunday), Turbin has had just 74 attempts for 227 yards and and average of 3.1 yards per carry. He's added 238 recieving yards over that time on 36 receptions. Turbin did get quite a few looks at the goal line, though, with nine touchdowns in that time - eight of which were on the ground.


Edge

The Eagles have a running back by committee and, especially with injuries, it is difficult to pin down who will play the most snaps or even play at all. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have a rookie and two former backs that they have re-signed, much in the same way the Eagles first turned to Jay Ajayi when in need of another back.

The Seahawks seem to be prepared to split carries between Homer and Lynch. While Lynch may be their best option, his tough running style does not match-up well with the Eagles defensive front and it is not a running style that tends to lend itself well to older backs like the 33-year old Lynch, especially when they have been averaging over 250 rush attempts per full season. Combine that with the fact that he has just 12 carries since October of 2018 and there's little chance that he is in the grove.

On the Philadelphia side, both Howard and Sanders are banged up, but the indication now is that both will be available and play.

From the committee perspective, I'd easily take Scott over Homer as a change of pace back. With all the factors against Lynch right now, it would be negligent to say that he is a better option than Sanders or Howard, let alone both.

While injury updates on Howard and Sanders could swing the pendulum, this is a pretty clear win for the Eagles.



  QB RB WR/TE OL DL/LB DB ST
Eagles - - - - -
Seahawks - - - - - - -

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