Dominating those facets remain the calling cards of the Seattle Seahawks, helping them regain control of their fate in the NFC West.
Both teams are coming off easy Thanksgiving Day wins over division rivals, leaving former Pac-12 coaching foes Pete Carroll and Chip Kelly extra time to prepare for a compelling encounter in their first NFL matchup Sunday when Seattle visits Philadelphia.
Hours after Kelly's team rolled to a 33-10 holiday victory in Dallas, Carroll's club manhandled San Francisco in a 19-3 win. The Eagles (9-3) grabbed a share of the league's best record, and the Seahawks (8-4) moved within a game of West-leading Arizona but defeated the Cardinals four days earlier and play them again in Week 16.
"We had a really nice Thanksgiving around here," Carroll said Monday. "... Our players had a nice ballgame and a nice break here, too, getting ready for this week. So we're in good shape and looking forward to a terrific matchup. Exciting time of year."
With middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor recently returning after missing time with injuries, Seattle's vaunted defense appears to be getting even stronger. That unit, allowing a league-low 285.8 yards per game after also ranking No. 1 last season, has surrendered two field goals and an average of 184.0 yards in the past two games.
Richard Sherman had two interceptions against the 49ers to earn NFC defensive player of the week honors after Chancellor won it for his eight-tackle effort against Arizona.
"We're having a good time. We're dedicated to one another right now," Sherman said. "When you're on the field playing for one another, we're playing like some 9-year-old, 10-year-old kids, not worried about the outcome, not worried about individual stats or anything like that. ... When a team's playing like that, we're really hard to beat."
However, the offense the Seahawks face Sunday is more formidable than the ones they've recently shut down. Whereas Arizona and San Francisco are among the bottom-third of the NFL in total yards, Philadelphia ranks fourth in that category (416.2 per game) and in scoring (31.2).
The Eagles have topped those averages in the last two games as LeSean McCoy totaled 289 yards rushing. He's averaged 6.3 per carry in that span, compared to 3.7 through the first 10 games, while doubling his season total of 100-yard games to four.
"I think when people talked about him (negatively) earlier in the year, I felt very confident with him. I think that is showing," Kelly said of McCoy, whose 6,491 career rushing yards leave him 48 shy of passing Wilbert Montgomery as the Eagles' all-time leader.
The Seahawks have held four of their past five opponents under 65 yards rushing, and they've forced 11 turnovers in the past six. They're 5-1 in that span while limiting opposing quarterbacks to a 65.0 rating, with only Eli Manning throwing for more than 200 yards.
"You (can't) spend too much time worrying about one guy, they have so many playmakers," quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "... We're gonna have our hands full, gonna have to really turn it up."
Sanchez was 9 of 22 for 124 yards in his only matchup against the Seahawks and Carroll, his former college coach, in a 28-7 loss with the Jets in 2012.
Kelly handed Carroll one of his worst losses at Southern California in their only collegiate matchup in 2009. Oregon won 47-20 against a fourth-ranked Trojans team and totaled 613 yards - the most ever gained on one of Carroll's USC defenses.
"They're really explosive. They've got a real style about them," Carroll said of Kelly's offense. "You have to mention Chip, and his concepts and approach, when you talk about this offense because it is what he has constructed over the years. It's innovative and it's well run and designed beautifully."
Likewise, the Eagles should have their hands full with Seattle's top-ranked rushing offense (168.6 ypg). While Russell Wilson has run for nearly twice as many yards (679) as any other quarterback, Marshawn Lynch is fifth in the league with 956 and leads with nine touchdown runs.
Lynch, approaching his fourth straight season of 1,000 yards and 10 TDs, has surpassed 100 yards in three of the past four weeks.
Philadelphia, though, has steadily gained confidence against the run with averages of 90.3 yards allowed and 3.6 per carry over the past seven games. The Eagles held NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray to 73 yards on 20 attempts on Thanksgiving - he ran for 115 against Seattle on Oct. 12.
Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis, though, said "nobody runs the ball harder" than Lynch.
"It's nice that we're facing those two big downhill runners back to back. We know what it's about," Davis said. "It takes a swarm tackle. You can't arm tackle Marshawn Lynch. It's got to be a full body swarm with all the effort to the ball."
Success in the ground game often limits Wilson's drop-backs. He's had 22 attempts in back-to-back weeks, completing 32 without an interception, but was also sacked 11 times.
That could be a problem against a Philadelphia pass rush which has an NFC-best 42 sacks, including a conference-high 12 1/2 by Connor Barwin.
He's had 10 1/2 in the last four games at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles have won 10 straight in the regular season.
Lynch rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-14 win in 2011 in these teams' last matchup. Seattle has played only three games in Philadelphia over the past 25 years and won them all.
The 49ers have lost two straight games and their offense has really struggled in those defeats with a paltry 14.5 PPG and 173.5 total YPG. Against the Saints last week, the 49ers rushed for a season-low 81 yards on 22 carries (3.7 YPC). San Francisco ranks last in the NFL in passing offense with a paltry 168.0 YPG and QB Colin Kaepernick must play better if the 49ers are going to get back to the playoffs. After tallying a 98.3 passer rating in 2012, that number has dipped to 81.8 this season as he has completed just 56.7percent of his passes for 1,802 yards (7.2 YPA), 11 TD and 7 INT. He has also lost four fumbles. Despite last week's struggles, the Niners are still a great running team with 141.0 rushing YPG (5th in NFL). RB Frank Gore has led the way this season, rushing for 748 yards with seven touchdowns, and before being held to 48 yards last week, he had compiled at least 70 rushing yards in each of his previous seven contests. Kaepernick has contributed a lot to the running game too with 335 yards (6.0 YPC) and three touchdowns on the ground. San Franciscos offense is much better when TE Vernon Davis is healthy. Davis has been slowed by numerous injuries but still has 34 receptions for 553 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns this season. WR Anquan Boldin has been the top target with 630 receiving yards, but the possible return of Michael Crabtree (1,105 rec. yards, 9 TD last year) could really add another element to this offense. San Franciscos defense has been solid this year allowing just 323.8 total YPG (7th in NFL). This includes 220.0 YPG through the air (10th in NFL) and 103.8 YPG on the ground (T-12th in NFL) The Niners rank fourth in the league in scoring defense (17.8 PPG allowed) and sixth in defending third downs (35.0percent). This has also been a very opportunistic unit with multiple takeaways in six of their past seven games, forcing 18 turnovers during this stretch.
After surprising many with a playoff berth last season, Washington has had a very disappointing 2013 campaign. The Redskins offense has moved the ball very well this season with 412.1 total YPG (6th in NFL), which includes 256.9 YPG through the air (11th in league) and an NFL-best 155.2 YPG on the ground. The problem, however, is that the Redskins are getting these yards after falling behind early and that their defense cant stop anybody. Washingtons defense is allowing 389.9 total YPG (28th in NFL), including 274.9 YPG through the air (26th in league) and 115.0 YPG on the ground (19th in NFL). The Redskins have also been terrible in the red zone (68percent efficiency, 2nd-worst in NFL), which has led to 31.1 PPG allowed (3rd-worst in league). This is despite being on the field for just 28:36 (6th-fewest in NFL) because of how well the Washington ground game has been. RB Alfred Morris has been one of the few bright spots for Washington as he has rushed for 918 yards (5.1 YPC) and five touchdowns on the season. The Redskins offense would be better off giving him the ball more often than letting QB Robert Griffin III continue to turn the ball over. Griffin has really struggled this season as he continues to recover from a torn ACL, throwing for 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season. That is twice as many picks as he threw in 15 games in his rookie year, when he finished with 20 TD and 5 INT. And after rushing for 815 yards (6.8 YPC) and 7 TD in 2012, Griffin has just 345 rushing yards (5.2 YPC) and zero touchdowns this season.