The biggest game of the Eagles 2014 schedule to this point has arrived. Philadelphia (7-2) is in Green Bay, Wisconsin this week to take on the Packers (6-3) at Lambeau Field. Both teams represent the class of the NFC. This game could easily be a playoff preview, and that's what part of why it's such an important game. This match-up could potentially determine which team gets a first round bye in the 2015 NFL playoffs. But enough about the implications. Now that the stage is set, let's look a little more closely at the game itself.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is on fire this season. Just look at the numbers: 25 touchdowns, three interceptions, 2,407 yards, league-leading 8.7 yards per attempt, and a passer rating of 120.1. The Eagles defense faces a major challenge and it won't be easy. Rodgers is only better when the team is playing home at Lambeau. The combination of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb is a scary match-up for the Eagles' lackluster secondary. It's up to Philadelphia's pass rush to disrupt Rodgers and give their coverage a fighting chance. This is easier said than done, of course, because Rodgers is very mobile and can escape from pressure. Rodgers isn't careless when throwing the ball so the defense's 21-game turnover streak may be in jeopardy. On the other hand, Rodgers does take sacks and fumble. The Eagles' front seven really needs to come up big in this game. Philadelphia has the personnel to get the job done; they just need to execute.
On offense, the Eagles would ideally like to get back to running the ball. The Packers might try to do what the Carolina Panthers did against Philadelphia, however, and load the box in order to force Mark Sanchez to throw. Obviously that strategy didn't end up working well for the Panthers but the Packers have much better personnel in the secondary. Loaded box or not, the Eagles need to make an effort to get LeSean McCoy going because they need to do a better job of sustaining drives. While Sanchez looked good on Monday night it's hard to count on him to carry the entire offense in a shoot-out with Rodgers.
This is a game that is very winnable for the Eagles. That's not to say it will be easy... but it's certainly within reach. Philadelphia has played really good football lately. They've been the No. 1 ranked team in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric from Week 6 to Week 10. The defense, though it still has some issues, has proved to be more than capable. The special teams unit is easily the best in the league. The offense hasn't been consistent and has been prone to too many turnovers but also has shown potential.
It's a big game and I really think it goes down to the wire. I'm talking about sudden death overtime. A real barn burner. I have the Eagles just scraping by due to a Cody Parkey field goal in overtime.
What do you think? Will the Eagles come out on top?
Bold prediction: LeSean McCoy scores three combined touchdowns