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Game Preview: Packers Vs. Eagles


Winning games in Seattle isn't easy, and the Eagles were reminded of that first-hand with Sunday's 26-15 loss.

But while they weren't able to come away victorious, the Eagles certainly had their chances, particularly in the first half. Carson Wentz and the Eagles' young offense were going blow-for-blow with Seattle in the first half, until an illegal formation penalty wiped out a 57-yard Zach Ertz touchdown that would have potentially put the Eagles up 14-13. That turn of events seemed to knock the wind out of the Eagles on offense, and they were never quite able to recover. Still though, they held their ground and finished within 11 points of a team that has been the class of the NFC for the past few seasons.

So the Eagles may not be on Seattle's level just yet, and the struggles on the road continue for now, but this week the Eagles come home to face another NFC team that has been among the best in the conference for nearly a decade. The Packers have had struggles this season, particularly on defense, and at 4-6, their playoff chances hang in the balance. But with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, the Packers are still a very tough team to try to slow down, but that will be the task for the Eagles' defense on Monday night.

Some teams are just different at home. The Saints, Falcons, Lions and even the Seahawks all seem to take their game to another level at home feeding off the crowd's energy. For a little while, it was the opposite – the Eagles struggled to find a way to win games at home. Things are different this season though. Jim Schwartz's hard-hitting defense and the infused excitement of watching Carson Wentz lead the Eagles' offense has created a true homefield advantage for the Eagles in 2016, as they've gone a perfect 4-0 in home games - beating Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Atlanta.

That energy will surely be there on Monday night, as the Eagles welcome Merrill Reese and Jeremiah Trotter into the team's Hall of Fame with a halftime ceremony. Legendary members of past Eagles teams will be on-hand for the event, but the play on the field will hopefully offer a glimpse of what the future could hold for the Wentz and the Eagles.

Here's the preview ...

- Alex Smith

Last Time They Met

Packers 53, Eagles 20
*November 16, 2014 – Lambeau Field *

The Packers raced out to a 17-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back as they beat the Eagles, 53-20, on November 16, 2014 at Lambeau Field. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns. Rodgers led the Packers on two drives of 75 yards or more in those first 15 minutes. Micah Hyde's 75-yard punt return for a touchdown put an exclamation point on the opening quarter of action. Packers receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson combined for 14 catches, 238 yards and a touchdown. Mark Sanchez had 346 passing yards and two touchdowns for the Eagles, but he also had two interceptions.

- Chris McPherson


When The Eagles Have The Ball**

Last week, the Eagles' streak of 11 consecutive games with 20 or more points came to an end in Seattle. This marks the perfect time to start a new one.

In the last two games, the Packers have surrendered 89 points - 47 in a loss to the Titans, and 42 on Sunday night against Washington (in addition to 515 yards of offense). Since a Week 6 loss to Dallas, Green Bay has allowed 30 or more points in five of its past six contests.

Explosive plays have been an issue for the Packers' defense. Believe it or not, the Packers trailed by just five points with five minutes remaining in the game Sunday night.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins completed a 53-yard pass to wide receiver Jamison Crowder to set up a 1-yard Robert Kelley touchdowns run. After a Jared Cook fumble, Kelley rushed three times for 72 yards and just like that it was an 18-point game with 2:26 left.

What's the issue?

Against the run, the Packers rank sixth allowing 91.1 yards per game. The starting defensive line in the base 3-4 with Kenny Clark, Letroy Guion and Mike Daniels will provide a challenge for the Eagles' running backs, who may not have the services of Ryan Mathews due to a knee injury. Darren Sproles is also injured with a rib fracture, but has a better chance of playing than Mathews.

Stopping the pass is where the Packers have had issues. Both starting cornerbacks - Sam Shields and Damarious Randall - have been sidelined due to injury. Demetri Goodson left Sunday's loss to Washington with a knee injury.

The depth of the linebacker corps has been tested as well. Clay Matthews just returned last Sunday after missing three games with a hamstring injury, while Jake Ryan has been out with an ankle injury and Blake Martinez is week to week with a knee injury. Nick Perry is an under-the-radar name, but a terror off the edge for the Packers with seven sacks on the year. The problem is, there's not much else.

Lack of pass rush plus the injury problems at linebacker and defensive back make for a great chance for Carson Wentz and company to get back on track and gain confidence heading into the month of December.

- Chris McPherson


The stage is set for Monday Night Football in Philadelphia. Check out some of the key players on the Packers roster that the Eagles will have to keep an eye on this weekend.

*When The Packers Have The Ball

Sitting at 4-6 on the season and coming off a 42-24 loss to Washington, the Packers know their backs are against the wall headed into this Monday night showdown with the Eagles. How they will respond though, remains to be seen.

While all areas of the team have had issues through the first 10 games, the Green Bay offense has been productive. So far in 2016, the Packers are averaging 24.7 points and 362.7 yards per game. In the air, the team is managing an averaging of 262.1 yards per outing, which ranks 10th among NFL teams. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown 25 touchdown passes, second most of all quarterbacks this season, and boasts a 96.0 passer rating.

The Packers also have three receivers on the roster with over 500 yards on the year in Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb. They have 663, 663 and 517 receiving yards, respectively. Additionally, the trio combines for 18 of the team's 28 touchdowns this season. Nelson leads the way with nine, which is the most among all receivers in the league. He clearly poses the biggest scoring threat in this Week 12 matchup.

In the run game though, Green Bay has had its struggles, much in part due to the loss of Eddie Lacy. The running back was placed on Injured Reserve on October 20 with an ankle injury. Aside from Lacy, Rodgers has picked up the most yards on the ground for the Packers with 259 yards on 40 carries. The quarterback also has three rushing touchdowns to his name, the only three rushing scores the Packers have recorded all season. The No. 1 back on the team's depth chart is now James Starks, who has 100 yards on 40 touches (2.5 yards per carry average). Against Washington this past weekend, he only managed 25 rushing yards.

Facing this Packers offense, the Eagles' defense will look to once again stand strong while playing at home. The group is coming off yet another road loss in which it didn't perform its best. But, this defense has consistently dominated at Lincoln Financial Field. Overall, Philadelphia has held opponents to just 18.6 points per game, which ranks fourth in the NFL. However at home, it has held opposing offenses to merely 9.5 points a matchup. The play of the defense this Monday night will largely determine the outcome of the game. If the Eagles perform up to their usual standard when taking the field in Philadelphia, it will be a long night for Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

- Julie Bacanskas


Key Matchups**

CBs Leodis McKelvin vs. WR Jordy Nelson - Jordy Nelson isn't 100 percent recovered from the ACL injury that kept him out for all of 2015, but he still leads the league with nine receiving touchdowns. Nelson has full trust of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who will force the ball to him even if he's covered. Rodgers and Nelson have perfected the back-shoulder fade. Plus, Rodgers will buy time in the pocket with his legs for his receivers to get open. Nelson has 53 catches on 96 targets for 663 yards this season.

DT Fletcher Cox vs. G Jason Spriggs - The narrative in the media is that defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has struggled since winning NFC Defensive Player of the Month honors in September. If you look at the stat sheet, yes, he has not registered a sack since the October 9 game in Detroit. But he's been disruptive against the run and the pass. Spriggs is a rookie second-round pick who was selected to play tackle. The Packers' offensive line is good at the edges, but injuries have impacted its interior. Starting right guard Don Barclay was injured last week against Washington and Spriggs came in to help shore up pass protection. Whether it's the rookie or Barclay is able to return, pressure up the middle is one way to keep Rodgers in check.

TE Zach Ertz vs. S Micah Hyde - The Packers were victimized for five plays of 28 yards or more in the second half of Sunday's loss to Washington. Two of those plays went for touchdowns, and another put the ball on the 4-yard line. This is as good a week as ever for someone with deep speed like rookie Bryce Treggs to come in and make a huge play. But Zach Ertz can't be overlooked here. Since Week 10, Ertz leads all tight ends with 20 receptions and also has 187 yards. Jordan Reed had five catches for 79 yards against Green Bay. One week earlier, Tennessee's Delanie Walker posted 124 yards and a touchdown. With a plethora of injuries on Green Bay's defense, Ertz could feast on Monday night.

RT Allen Barbre vs. LB Nick Perry - Green Bay's defense is struggling, but Nick Perry is providing some pass-rush punch off the edge. Perry leads the Packers with seven sacks. He has gotten to the quarterback in seven of the Packers' 10 games this season. The Eagles have to reshuffle their offensive line once again due to Halapoulivaati Vaitai's knee injury. Former Packer Allen Barbre is expected to start at right tackle in Vaitai's place. Barbre has played well inside at guard this season, but can he make the transition to the edge again. Barbre has eight career starts at right tackle.

- Chris McPherson

Trends To Watch

.587: The Eagles have an all-time record of 27-19 on Monday Night Football. Their .587 winning percentage is the sixth highest of any NFL team. Green Bay has an all-time Monday Night Football record of 29-31-1 (.484).

70: In four home games this season, the Eagles have outscored opponents 108-38 ( 70). The Eagles have scored at least 21 points in every home game and haven't allowed more than 15.

92.6: QB Carson Wentz has compiled a 92.6 passer rating in those four home games this season, throwing for 948 yards and five touchdowns.

.667: The Eagles have gone 4-2 against the Packers in games played at Lincoln Financial Field, including the "4th-and-26" Divisional Round playoff win in the 2003 season.

- Alex Smith

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