Early Bird Breakdown Week 11: Philadelphia Eagles @ Green Bay Packers
Hello all! Welcome to another Early Bird Breakdown! Let’s begin with the recap:
Last week the Green Bay Packers absolutely destroyed the Chicago Bears in primetime on Sunday Night Football. Aaron Rodgers tied an NFL record for six passing touchdowns in one half. They hit Chicago with a 42-0 first half. George Halas was rolling around so much in his grave, they could have tapped him for a new green energy source.
The defense looked good, albeit against a poor opponent. Clay Matthews brought a playmaking ability to the middle line backer position that the Packers have sorely lacked. As for the Eagles, they also played a night game last week, their’s on Monday Night Football. They blew out the Carolina Panthers 45-21 to move to 7-2 overall. The defense and special teams were what carried them to the victory, scoring three touchdowns combined. Coupled with a great performance from backup Mark Sanchez, the Eagles coasted very easily just like the Packers.
Packers’ Offense vs. Eagles’ Defense:
The Eagle’s game plan this season has been to load the box and attempt to take away the run, forcing teams to become one dimensional and throw into a ball hawking secondary. The Packers offensively this season have already become mostly one-dimensional anyway, with Lacy eclipsing 14 carries only once this season. The way the Eagles have to take the run away from teams normally is to do so with extra defenders, as they give up 115.2 yards per game on the ground, only 19th in the league. They are 22nd against the pass giving up 251.7 yards per game.
The key for them is take aways, having snagged seven interceptions and nine fumbles through the first nine games of the season. The unfortunate thing for Philadelphia is that they do not matchup well with Green Bay’s offense. Right now the Packers are more than happy to pass on first, second, and third down and do so with great efficiency. Rodgers has thrown 15 touchdowns and 0 interceptions at home this season.
The turnovers the Eagles have been banking on recently dry up in Lambeau. Instead, the Eagles will have to rely on their aggressive pass rush, which enters Sunday at second in the league in sacks with 32. The Eagles tend to blitz frequently, though statistically Rodgers is at his best against blitzes when there is single coverage on the outside. If the Eagles cannot generate a consistent pass rush only sending four-five players, the Packers offense will continue to put up the crazy numbers they have had at home so far this season.
Also good news for the Packers offense, the Eagles offense tends to not run the clock and consistently was snapping the ball last week with over 20 seconds on the play clock. One way or another, this will lead to more snaps for Rodgers which is always a good recipe for Green Bay.
Packers’ Defense vs. Eagles’ Offense:
Green Bay’s defense looked very good against an anemic Bears offense. This week is a whole different story. The Eagles are the fifth ranked total offense in the league and they are very balanced. Fifth in passing at 289.6 and 13th in rushing at 114.8, this team can beat you both ways.
The best way the Packers can stymie the Eagles offense is to capture some of that magic they had last week against the Bears when Matthews moved to the middle. It was the Packers most effective game against the run, but it should be taken with a grain of salt for a few reasons.
One, the Packers offense was so good it put the Bears on their heels which threw their game plan out the window. Two, Matthews move was a surprise the Bears were not expecting, the Eagles have game footage and a week to prepare for it that the Bears did not. Three, the Eagles are much better than the Bears, period. Having said that, Matthews move clearly gave the Packers a playmaker against the run.
Despite the fact that Mark Sanchez has looked great so far since replacing injured starter Nick Foles, if the Packers can force the Eagles to throw it up, he will eventually turn it over against the Packers, as they are even better at getting takeaways than the Eagles themselves. Last week Carolina shut down the Eagles run offense despite not playing well defensively all year. It will be interesting to see if coach Chip Kelly abandons his fast-hike offense in favor of keeping Rodgers on the sideline.
If he does not and the Packers get a couple of early stops, expect the Packers to get a nice lead which is when the defense truly excels. The biggest x-factor for the game will be Darren Sproles, who is the Eagles backup running back/receiver/returner. With so many opportunities for the speedy Sproles to find space, I expect him to have a good game as the Packers have not tackled well in open space this season.
The Weather Factor:
The current forecast for the game is a cool 29o at kickoff with no snow in the forecast and only a light wind.
This game has the makings of a fun one. Chip Kelly likes to hurry his offense. Aaron Rodgers likes to hurry his. With both teams going for the shootout, two things favor the Packers. One, they’re at home. Two, and most importantly it is Aaron Rodgers versus Mark Sanchez. As well as Sanchez has played, and it is noteworthy, Rodgers is playing in another stratosphere. That difference should be what decides this game between two playoff contending teams, and this very well could see a rematch down the road. The final score will be 38-27 Green Bay over Philadelphia.
Eddie Lacy- Lacy is getting more and more catches as the weeks go on. He doesn’t need to run it to get his points.
Jordan Matthews – seems to have gained a real connection with Sanchez, and very likely will grab a touchdown against the Packers.
Darren Sproles – Sproles has three ways to get a touchdown against Green Bay – a return, a run, or a pass. I think he gets at least one touchdown in one of those options, which should be enough to put his as a must start.
Jeremy Maclin – Sanchez does not really look his way & the Packers pass defense is too good to be beat by two receivers. If Jordan has a decent game, Maclin most likely will not.
As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University