Early Bird Breakdown Week 12 – Packers @ Eagles

Hello and welcome to a special Monday Night Football edition of Early Bird Breakdown. It’s week twelve of the regular season for the Packers and their playoff hopes are looking dire. Before diving into the game, let’s look at the recap from last week.

The Recap:

Once again, Green Bay’s defense was torched on the road giving up 42 points in a blowout loss. While the offense had the ball moving in parts, it still managed only 24 points. Overall, the Packers season appears to be gone, now 2.5 games back of the first place Lions with only six games remaining.

The Breakdown:

Packers’ Offense vs Eagle’s Defense:

The Packers face a strong defense when they are at home. Philadelphia is 4-0 at home and their defense has only given up 9.5 points-per-game at home this season. Green Bay’s offense has improved, but it has not been as good as it appears. Take for instance last week. Aaron Rodgers ran for a team-high 33 rushing yards. They started one dimensional, and as the defense was getting gouged they had to continue to be one dimensional. Rodgers played well and had some big throws but they still only managed 24 points. That will not be enough for virtually every opponent with the way the defense has been playing.

Philadelphia will be ready for the Packers and they boast a strong defensive line that can pressure the quarterback without the blitz, which has been an Achilles’s heel of the Packers and Rodgers for years. Green Bay will need to find a much better run game, and new comer Christine Michael will have to deliver.  Michael was Seattle’s leading rusher and was cut before last week’s game when Green Bay added him. If the Packers can run the ball to keep their defense on the sidelines, they have a chance to outscore the Eagles.

Packers’ Defense vs Eagle’s Offense:

After critiquing the offense a few times this season, it is time to really talk about what is wrong on defense. Most people will dismiss the Packers’ poor stretch solely on injuries which is only half the story. The Green Bay corners outside of Sam Shields who has been out nearly all season when healthy have all played poorly. Damarious Randall gave up multiple big plays early this season and Quinton Rollins has been back and giving up the big plays that the fourth and fifth stringers have given up. So, why is the secondary historically bad? Well, part of it is a huge regression from sophomore players combined with really poor depth through the exclusively draft-built roster. That has lead to more internal discussions regarding general manager Ted Thompson’s future among the board of directors, as reported by CBS Sports a few weeks ago.

Dom Capers has had issues getting what he can out of the players lately, but the coaching is not trying to cover their weaknesses particularly well. There is minimal safety help coming for the corners who are getting torched. Combine that with a run defense that has begun playing like it has in previous years, it shows that this defense has holes up and down the roster.

On the opposite side, Philadelphia has cooled off  considerably since their 3-0 start. However, despite being piloted by a rookie quarterback in Carson Wentz, they do not turn the ball over & Green Bay has not been generating turn overs. With the way the Packers are playing, Philadelphia reasonably should be able to put together some long drives and keep Rodgers on the sidelines. Wentz also is a bit of a matchup issue for Green Bay; he is better against pressure and throwing downfield. The Packers issues are when an opposing quarterback can go deep and their only plan of attack lately has been with pressure.

The Weather:

Philadelphia should be clear and a bit warmer than Wisconsin, with expected kickoff temperatures around 48 degrees and minimal wind.

The Breakdown:

This has been a rough stretch for Green Bay and unless the defense suddenly figures it out or the offense suddenly surges to score 40 against a team that has averaged giving up only 9.5 points per game at home, the losing streak likely will continue. While Carson Wentz has not been that effective lately, his biggest strengths are best at exploiting the Packers’ defense through strong play under pressure and an accurate deep throw. It’s hard not to see the Packers giving up 35+ again, considering in the last four games they have given up 38.25. Meanwhile, Green Bay has only scored over 30 twice this season, neither time reaching 35+. I do not think the streak ends here, the Eagles win 34-24.

As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University