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Sizing Up An Important Game

It has been a week of quarterback conversation around the Eagles, both from the standpoint of seeing how Nick Foles follows up his seven-touchdown outing of last Sunday and with the loss of Aaron Rogers and impact his absence will have on Green Bay's offense.

Quarterback, quarterback, on the wall, who will be the fairest of them all on Sunday at the chilly Lambeau Field? Is it going to be Foles, who is obviously far removed from his wall-to-wall struggle a few weeks ago against Dallas and has done all he can to distance himself from any kind of a negative hangover in the wake of the record-tying performance in Oakland? Or will eight-year veteran Seneca Wallace step in for Rodgers and run the system with anywhere near the kind of efficiency that Rodgers brought to the table every week?

There is more than quarterbacks in play here, of course, and so here are some random thoughts about this very, very interesting Game 10 battle against Green Bay that sets the table in many ways for a furious stretch run ahead ...

  • How effective can linebacker Clay Matthews be playing with his hand "clubbed" to protect a thumb injury that kept him sidelined for four games? "I guess we'll see," said tight end Brent Celek when he arrived at the team hotel in Wisconsin on Saturday. "He disrupts games. That's what you have to prepare for." No doubt the Eagles are expecting the best of Matthews, but for a linebacker who uses his hands to shed blockers, it's going to be tough for Matthews using just one hand. And how can he play in coverage without the ablity to catch passes? Matthews will bring the fury and the intensity, that's for sure.
  • Cornerback Bradley Fletcher is listed as questionable for the game because of his pectoral injury, and the Eagles must be prepared if Fletcher is unable to go. Roc Carmichael has come a long way for the defense in a short period of time. He could be asked to play some significant snaps here. Carmichael is tenacious and he's fearless, and if he plays Carmichael has a tough job with James Jones and Jordy Nelson on the perimeter for the Packers' receiving corps.
  • From Vic Ketchman on about Wallace: "Wallace is an accurate short-area passer. That's his game. Wallace will throw the slants, the curls, the screens, the flares and, now and then, the deep ball to keep the defense honest and stretch the field. He'll "live" between the numbers; the Eagles know that and will react accordingly. The rest is a matter of execution." So that's what we can look for from Wallace and we can see how Bill Davis calls his defense.
  • Green Bay right guard T.J. Lang was cleared to practice on Friday and could play in this game after suffering a concussion, and if that's the case the Packers will have their offensive line intact. Green Bay calls it's running game "Bash and Slash" referring to Eddie Lacy and James Starks, respectively, and Lang is a physical part of the picture inside for Green Bay.
  • Really good battle to watch is Green Bay cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Sam Shields against DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper. No way the Packers are going to lay back in a zone defense. They want to play in the receivers' faces and they have the talent to play that way. Can the Eagles receivers get off the line of scrimmage and get open for Foles?
  • Watching Green Bay on Monday night, though, the Packers did not do a good job stopping Chicago running back Matt Forte, especially down the stretch. Maybe this is game to get the running game back on track. Something tells me, though, that Green Bay's first defensive priority will be to take away LeSean McCoy and the running game and force Foles to make plays in the passing game.
  • What will the Eagles do with their tight ends here? They could have some favorable matchups with Zach Ertz in space and Celek against Green Bay's safeties. James Casey is also an option, because the guy will get open when called upon. I like the way the Eagles are using the personnel and getting the football out to a variety of receivers.
  • Tough matchup for Todd Herremans and Lane Johnson with B.J. Raji at left end in Green Bay's 3-4 defense. Raji is capable of taking over a game and he and linebacker Nick Perry work well in tandem. Johnson probably had his best game of the season in Oakland. Another step forward would be huge here.
  • The wind is expected to be manageable for the kicking game, but for the first time this season the temperatures will be a factor. It's going to be cold. A front is blowing into Wisconsin and snow is expected on Monday. Let's see Donnie Jones and Alex Henery, who did his college kicking at Nebraska, win the field-position battle.
  • How big is this game? The Redskins have already lost -- Thursday night in Minnesota -- and Dallas plays at New Orleans. The Giants should handle Oakland, but a win over Green Bay allows the Eagles to sit back and watch Sunday night's game in New Orleans knowing that a Saints win means the Eagles are back in first place in the NFC East after 10 games. So, yeah. It's a big game. It's a big moment. How do the Eagles handle this situation? How does Foles play in another big-spot game? I feel like he's going to learn from the lesson against Dallas and have a fine outing against Green Bay.
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