Part of a new campaign the SB Nation NFL blogs will be participating in during the 2014 season involves answering questions posed by Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk. Faulk, who is an analyst at NFL Network, asked his latest question in the tweet below.
Good question. It's very tempting to look ahead to Philadelphia's games against Dallas and declare them as most important. The Eagles-Cowboys Thanksgiving game especially stands out, given the nature of the spotlight. Philadelphia will need to take care of business against Dallas in order to further secure their NFC East lead. Or how about that Eagles-Seahawks game sandwiched right in-between those Cowboys games? Surely that one isn't insignificant.
But while those games are very important, it's really hard to look past Philadelphia's looming Week 11 challenge: beating the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau. This is a game that will serve as a big measuring stick for the Eagles. It's not as if the team is without a quality victory; they beat the 6-3 Indianapolis Colts on the road in Week 2. It's just that this game will be Philadelphia's biggest test to this point. The Eagles will be tasked with defeating a team with the best quarterback in the NFL: Aaron Rodgers. It won't be easy at all, but it can be done.
Look, the Eagles defense is legitimate. Football Outsiders metrics rank the unit coordinated by Billy Davis at sixth best overall in the NFL; fifth versus the run and ninth versus the pass. Just because Green Bay is coming off a performance where they annihilated the Chicago Bears doesn't mean the Eagles will suffer the same fate. Does that mean they're going to be able to lock down Rodgers on Sunday? No, not at all. The offense and special teams will need to do their part as well.
It goes without saying that this game is very important. So far the Eagles have fallen to other NFC contenders while playing on the road with losses to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 4 and the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8. Now it's time for Philadelphia to prove they can beat a quality conference opponent. An Eagles victory over the Packers would be huge for potential playoff seeding. The NFC is wide open, and this game could potentially even determine the No. 1 seed in the conference. If the Eagles win, their chances of making the playoffs would rise from 83.8% to to nearly 94%. If that isn't tantalizing enough, consider the Eagles odds of earning a first round bye would jump from 35.4% to nearly 62%.
Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. There are still six games to be played following this week and a lot can change, especially with the aforementioned Cowboys games still looming large. For now, however, this game is the biggest on Philadelphia's schedule. As head coach Chip Kelly says, it's a one-week season. This week is the Eagles' Super Bowl.
And can you imagine being able to say "Mark Sanchez just out-dueled Aaron Rodgers... in Lambeau!" come Sunday evening?