Week 13 Preview: Eagles @ Packers

Date & Time: December 6th – 4:25 P.M.

Location: Green Bay, Wisconsin

Network: CBS

Injury Report (as of 12-4-20):

  • Philadelphia: Rudy Ford (OUT), Darius Slay (QUESTIONABLE)
  • Green Bay: Corey Linsley (OUT), Krys Barnes (QUESTIONABLE), Tyler Ervin (QUESTIONABLE), Za’Darius Smith (QUESTIONABLE)

The road gets even tougher for the Philadelphia Eagles as they travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers. The Eagles come into this game at 3-7-1, still with a chance to be in sole possession of the NFC East crown with a win. The Green Bay Packers are 8-3 and Aaron Rodgers is playing MVP level football. The Packers lead the all-time series 27-17, with the Eagles having won the most recent matchup in 2019. Let’s get into the preview:

Packers Overview

The Green Bay Packers are one of the true contenders in the NFC. They possess the NFL’s top ranked offense (per Pro Football Reference). They score the most points per game (31.7) and have the 3rd highest redzone efficiency (74.4%) in the league. As stated, Aaron Rodgers in playing MVP level football. He’s thrown for 3,100 yards and has thrown 33 touchdowns compared to just 4 interceptions. The Green Bay offense is humming, leading the league in both points and passing touchdowns. They also possess a top 10 rushing attack.

And it’s not just Rodgers who’s playing at a high level on the offense. Davante Adams may be having what can be considered the best all around season for a wideout in the league this season. Adams is top 10 in numerous categories. Targets (8th), receptions (5th), yards (10th), receiving touchdowns (4th), receiving first downs (4th), receptions per game (1st), and yards per game (again, 1st). This will not be an easy matchup for the Philadelphia defense that ranks 8th against the pass, but has given up 2,318 yards through the air (25th in the league).

Elsewhere, the Packers will be without their starting center. This is an area the Eagles can exploit. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been pressured much. The Packers offensive line is stout in protection. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked only 11 times, among the least amount in the league. But they will be without Corey Lindsey, who’s allowed just 1 sack and graded out with a 89.8 overall grade per Pro Football Focus. Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson have a favorable matchup against Elgton Jenkins. Jenkins, who has graded out with a 64.8 overall grade per PFF, slides over from left guard to center in Lindsey’s place. In the place of Jenkins will be a familiar name to Eagles fans. Rookie, Jon Runyan Jr. will make his first career start at left guard for the Green Bay Packers and as stated, Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson will have a chance to feast. Runyan Jr. has graded out with a 53.8 overall grade as a blocker per PFF.

As for the defense, Green Bay ranks 18th in total defense, 18th against the pass and 14th against the run. Their starting corners, Jaire Alexander, Kevin King and Chandon Sullivan have all be good in coverage. Each allows a passer rating under 100 and allowing under 65% completion percentage when targeted. For the Eagles, a team whose wide receivers haven’t played up to par in the last few weeks, this matchup doesn’t ease those transgressions.

The Green Bay defensive line, however, hasn’t produced at a high level. They’ve pressured the quarterback the 2nd least amount in the league and have the 3rd least QB hurries in the league. For an offensive line that struggled as much as the Eagles’ has, this matchup should present an opportunity for alleviation.

Eagles Overview

As stated the Eagles come into this game at 3-7-1. They’re coming off two straight losses. And even with all of that, they still have a chance to take sole possession of the NFC East crown with a win in this game. For Philadelphia, the formula for victory in this game is simple: Run. The. Ball. Green Bay has given up the 8th most yards per rushing attempt and since 2018, the Packers run defense has 30 games in which they’ve allowed over 100 rushing yards. It seems so simple right? The only problem is the Eagles run the ball the 4th least amount in the NFL.

The Eagles passing offense has struggled in every facet this year. The play of the quarterback has been erratic almost every week. The wide receivers aren’t being used to their strengths. The play design and play calling has been sub-par. The protection up front has been among the worse (if not THE worst) in the league. It’s been a struggle. In this game, it’s sort of a hit or miss type of matchup.

As stated the Packers defensive line has pressured the quarterback the 2nd least amount in the league. The Green Bay passing defense has allowed a 98.4 passer rating to opposing QBs and as a whole, they are among the league’s cellar dwellers in terms of QB hits. But they’ve been good enough to help lead the Green Bay to an 8-3 record. A true bend but don’t break defense.

The Eagles offensive line will have their 11th starting offensive line combination in 12 games. That is good enough for the most by an NFL team in 33 years. Jack Driscoll will make his 3rd career start.

As a whole, this Philadelphia offense is struggling. The Packers defense isn’t amazing in any specific metric, but they’ve been just good enough to help propel Green Bay to a division leading record. The Eagles have the firepower to keep up with this defense but it’s a different story every week with this offense, so you don’t really know what you’re getting. An example of this can be seen in the play calling. It was reported this week that Doug Pederson may elect to cede some play calling to passing game coordinator, Press Taylor or senior offensive assistant, Rich Scangarello.

3 things to Watch

  • The Eagles run:pass ratio. The main key in this game for the Eagles offense will be to lean on the run. Green Bay has struggled to stop the run on many occasions this season. The Eagles offense is 4th in the league in yards per attempt. It’s seems like a simple equation: Green Bay is susceptible to the run + The Philadelphia Offense is statistically a top 5 rushing attack in yards per attempt = RUN THE BALL. But as stated, the Eagles run the ball the 4th least amount in the league.
  • Darius Slay vs. Davante Adams matchup. Slay has been a top tier corner in the league this year, outside of last Monday night’s performance against D.K. Metcalf. As stated Davante Adams is having an elite season. Adams and Slay have matched up a ton of times while Slay played for the Detroit Lions, the only difference is, Detroit didn’t allow Slay to follow Adams. However, with the Eagles he will. This matchup is especially intriguing because both Slay and Adams are technicians. Adams as a route runner and Slay as a pass defender. This should be an entertaining matchup.
  • The amount of time Carson Wentz has to throw (and the usage of the wide receivers). As touched on earlier, the Packers defensive line simply does not generate pressure on the QB. The Eagles offensive line has allowed the most pressures, 2nd-most QB hits, and the most sacks in the NFL. This is a matchup of relief for this offensive line. If Wentz has time and the receivers are put in position to succeed (on routes other than fly routes), this passing offense should find its way.

Coaching

The simple fact of the matter is, Doug Pederson has not done enough to put his offense in positions to be successful. The quarterback is struggling and what does Pederson do? Run the ball 9 total times. The wide receivers aren’t winning their 1 on 1s and what does Pederson do? Continue to call plays where the receivers are isolated in man coverage. The offensive line is struggling and what does Pederson do? Continue to call plays in which the pocket is not moved. As a head coach, it is your job to put your players in position to succeed and Pederson has not done that. With just 5 games remaining on the year and a chance at the playoffs still within the team’s grasp, Pederson must have a sense of urgency as a head coach if he wants to make the playoffs (and reportedly, keep his job).

Prediction

The Green Bay Packers offense is on another level at the moment. Aaron Rodgers is playing at a very high level. The Eagles defense has been pretty good but this matchup is unlike any offense they’ve seen this year. The Packers defense has been adequate, but the Eagles offense has been lackluster for majority of the season. However, the fact that the key to this game (for the Eagles) is so obvious, I find it hard to believe that they’ll just completely disregard the run game. Considering the lack of pass rush generated by the Green Bay defense and amount of rushing yards allowed over an extended amount of time, the Eagles offense should have opportunities for success. Also, this is a game that the Eagles must have and I think they’ll play with desperation and an effort that we haven’t seen all year.

Bold Prediction: Miles Sanders get 25 carries and 2 touchdowns

Pick: Eagles 28, Packers 27

Stats Via Pro Football Reference

Author: Pierre Baptiste Jr.

I am the creator of The Philly Blitz and I am committed to delivering innovative and interesting coverage on both the Eagles and Sixers. Contact Information: Twitter - @pierreb3_ Email: pierrotjr3@gmail.com

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