The Philadelphia Eagles are on the road this week to face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Both teams are coming off big blowout victories in Week 10. It's a very important game between two of the better teams in the NFC.
Bleeding Green Nation already took some time to chat with Jason Hirschhorn from Acme Packing Company this week. On Wednesday, we discussed which Packers player the Eagles would take and which Eagles player the Packers would take. Jason and I then exchanged five questions on Thursday: here's the BGN version and here's the APC version.
Today, we're back with reasons why each team might lose. This format forces us to consider each own team's weaknesses, rather than just think of why each team is awesome.
So here's why the Packers will lose, via Jason. Check out Acme Packing Company to see why I think the Eagles will lose.
As great as the Green Bay Packers' offense has played this year, it's not unstoppable. Defenses that can create pressure without blitzing can have success slowing down the passing game, and the Philadelphia Eagles' possess the personnel to make this happen. Connor Barwin and Trent Cole rank 4th and 5th in most pressures by 3-4 outside linebackers according to Pro Football Focus. At the same time, Fletcher Cox ranks among the top 10 in pressures for a 3-4 end. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis should have plenty of ways to penetrate Green Bay's injured offensive line and keep Aaron Rodgers from consistently attacking the secondary deep.
Speaking of the offensive line, it remains to be seen how guards Josh Sitton (toe ligament tear) and T.J. Lang (ankle sprain) will hold up against a capable defensive front. Though they played fine last week against the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia brings considerably more manpower with Bennie Logan, Cedric Thornton, and the aforementioned Cox.
For all the talk about Clay Matthews taking snaps at inside linebacker, the middle of the defense remains a major problem area. Nose tackle Letroy Guion has played inconsistently all year, feasting on weak opponents and failing to show up against better ones. The Eagles certainly quality as the latter, suggesting that it could be a long day for the Packers' defense. For all of LeSean McCoy's struggles, he's still a dangerous player who can exploit this front.
Though he doesn't receive his due acclaim, Jeremy Maclin has established himself as one of the NFL's premier deep threats this season. He averages over 17 yards a reception and has registered a staggering 13 plays of 20 or more yards. Though Green Bay's secondary hasn't allowed many big plays this season, they've been decimated in the few games where they struggled in this area. If Maclin takes the top off the secondary, Chip Kelly will have his full playbook to play with, a scary proposition for any opponent.
Pass catching tailbacks have tortured the Packers' defense for years, and the Eagles possess two of them. McCoy hasn't posted great receiving numbers in 2014, but he topped 500 yards just a year ago. Darren Sproles likewise can embarrass a defense with his ability to make huge plays in space. As a pass catcher, he has two touchdowns in just the past three games. If the backs are used correctly, and one expects Philly to do so, it could tear apart Green Bay.