The Eagles come into the game at 5-5. The Packers are 4-6. Green Bay has lost four in a row and five of the last six games. Its season is basically on the line. The Packers might be able to afford one loss, but two would seal their postseason fate. With that in mind, expect the Packers to play like a desperate team. They will do anything and everything they can to win the game.
Green Bay's losing streak has largely been a result of bad defense. Its best showing in the last four games is when the Colts were held to 31 points. The Packers have allowed just over 38 points a game in that stretch. The Eagles haven't given up 30 points in a game all year. The biggest problem has been injuries to the Packers' secondary. They have a pair of cornerbacks on Injured Reserve. Another is out and a fourth is questionable for Monday's game. They have rookies, slot cornerbacks and safeties trying to cover wide receivers in man coverage and really struggling. No team can have that many injuries at one spot and not feel it.
With that in mind, this is a game where
That sounds simple enough, but the Eagles' passing attack has had some ups and downs this year. Let's start with the protection. That's really where it all begins for any offense. The Eagles will be starting a new line combination.
Wentz has averaged 271 yards per game through the air in the last three weeks. That's the highest three-game total for him this year. Part of that was by design, part by necessity. The bottom line is that Wentz has been relied on to be a bigger part of the offense in recent weeks. After dealing with Seattle's elite secondary last week, facing the Packers will be very different. This is the kind of game where you want to spread the defense out and attack through the air. Wentz needs to find the open receiver and get him the ball. Some of those are going to need to be aggressive, downfield throws. The whole point in spreading the defense out is to get one-on-one matchups in space.
The receivers also have to do their part.
Playing against a banged-up secondary means the Eagles' receiving corps will have chances to make plays. The receivers have to step up. All it takes is a couple of catches and players start to feel good about themselves. The light can go on that quickly, and this is the week when that needs to happen.
The Eagles will be without
No matter how they do it, the Eagles need to score points. The Packers average 26 points a game over the last five weeks. Aaron Rodgers isn't playing up to his normal level, but he remains one of the best quarterbacks in the league and he can still put some points on the board.
The Eagles have shut down some good offenses this year. Both the Falcons and Steelers came to Philly with star quarterbacks and elite receivers, only to have their worst game of the year when going up against Jim Schwartz's defense.
The key to shutting down explosive offenses is to win the battle up front. Getting pressure on Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger is different than doing it against Rodgers. He has outstanding mobility and does a great job of extending plays with his feet. The rushers have to be very disciplined when going after him.
Defensive backs are under a lot of pressure when facing Rodgers. They have to cover well on the average play, but really are up against it when he extends plays. The Eagles had to deal with this last week in Seattle, so hopefully that will help them on Monday night.
Jordy Nelson is still the Packers' top receiver, but Rodgers loves to spread the ball around. Seven different players had a reception last week against Washington. Each of them had at least three receptions, so it isn't as if Rodgers is just getting them one play. He truly does spread the ball. Four different receivers had 30 or more yards. Another reason the defensive line needs to rush well is that linebackers and defensive backs will be needed in coverage.
This is going to be a huge game, as it so often feels is the case when the Packers and Eagles get together. The Packers are desperate to keep their season alive and the Eagles want to get back above .500 as they head into the stretch run. The Eagles are undefeated at home this year and want that streak to keep going. Monday night should, no, will be exciting.
Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com.