The Philadelphia Eagles (3-7-1) and the Green Bay Packers (8-3) are set to play each other this Sunday at Lambeau Field. In order to preview this Week 13 matchup, I reached out to our enemies over at Acme Packing Company. The jovial Jon Meerdink kindly took the time to answer my questions about this upcoming tilt. Let’s take a look at his answers. (Don’t forget to also check out my side of the exchange over at APC.)
1 - Aaron Rodgers is having his strongest season in years. What’s gone into his success?
The simplest answer is just another year in Matt LaFleur’s system. I’m not one to play body language police, but there’s a striking visual difference in how Rodgers looks on the field compared to last year. He looks fully in command of the offense and, just as importantly, seems to be having a great time.
But beyond that, there are a bunch of smaller reasons that he’s playing well. Davante Adams is having perhaps his best season ever and the Packers’ offensive line is playing lights out, even with a few injuries throughout the year. Rodgers, of course, plays into some of those supporting factors, but they’ve also helped him reach these heights as well.
2 - The Packers and Eagles both unexpectedly took quarterbacks high in the 2020 NFL Draft. How are Packers fans feeling about the Jordan Love pick at this point in time?
Perhaps fortunately for Love, he’s a bit of a forgotten man right now. Even the most diehard “the Packers should have drafted a wide receiver!” types (myself included, to be fair) have been sated somewhat by good performances from Adams, Allen Lazard, and tight end Robert Tonyan. Even Marquez Valdes-Scantling has been very good on occasion (and abysmal at other times...nobody’s perfect). So, at least in that way, Love gets to fade away to the background.
But there are still legitimate concerns here. Even with their wide receivers playing well, it’s still a weak position overall, and the Packers still have holes on the defensive line and at linebacker. Those issues haven’t been forgotten, even if Love has been hidden away for most of the year.
But, as we must always point out if this pick works out and Love turns out to be a good long-term starter, it won’t really matter what a young receiver could have done this year, just because of how valuable the QB spot is.
3 - To what extent is there concern about the Packers’ run defense? The Eagles were able to run all over Green Bay last year. Safe to say that should be their game plan against this time around?
The run defense was concern #1 after last year’s NFC Championship game and it has remained so ever since. Even amidst the Packers’ blowout win last week, it was a concern. David Montgomery ripped off a 57-yard run on his very first touch and averaged a healthy 4.6 yards per carry the rest of the way. I’d have been interested to see what he would have done had the game stayed closer. I would say it’s extremely safe to say the Eagles should start with the run and try to build from there. Even if running is significantly less efficient than passing, you might as well try it against the Packers as long as the game is close.
4 - What’s one matchup that you feel confident about in the Packers’ favor?
I was impressed with the Eagles’ trade for Darius Slay and I think he’s a very good player, but with the way Davante Adams has played this year, I think it’s hard to feel anything but confident in any matchup where he is involved. Adams played quite well against Slay in their last meeting, and I’m sure Slay is eager for redemption, but I’m confident in what Adams can do.
5 - Who wins this game and why? Score prediction? And what are your expectations for the rest of this Packers season?
I think the Packers win Sunday in large part because they just seem to be in a stronger position overall right now than the Eagles. They know who they are and what they’re about, and, at least from the outside looking in, it doesn’t seem like the Eagles can quite say the same. I think nine points seems like a bit high as far as the spread goes, though, so I’ll say the Packers take it 31-24.
As far as the rest of the season, I don’t think it’s a season for ”Super Bowl or bust” type talk, but I’ll be very disappointed if the Packers don’t advance at least to the divisional round, either by securing a first round bye or winning a Wild Card round game. This team is too good to make a one-and-done exit, and if they do, this season will be a colossal failure. I think they’ll make it at least that far, though, and depending on their playoff matchup, there’s no limit to how far they could go.