Eyes on the Enemy: Green Bay Packers
The Eagles and Packers met during last years regular season, and it arguably produced the standout win of the season. Philadelphia went into Green Bay as heavy underdogs, and against all odds, they won 34-27. Green Bay look like a much better offense this year with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams' relationship as good as it has ever been. It is going to be a difficult afternoon for the Eagles, and a win will bolster the Packers case for the one seed in the NFC.
The Season so Far:
After their performance in the draft, many people expected the Packers to drop the division title to the Minnesota Vikings. Instead, it lit a fire in Aaron Rodgers' belly, and at times he has been unstoppable. They sit on an 8-3 record after the convincing Sunday Night Football victory over the Chicago Bears.
Green Bay started the year 4-0, and looked like the best team alongside the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC. They defeated the New Orleans Saints 37-30, and that was the game that made people sit up to realise that Rodgers was far from finished. In that four-game stretch, Rodgers threw for 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He was untouchable, and he led the Packers to three two-score victories as they asserted themselves in the pack as the early favourites for the NFC.
Then came Rodgers' worst performance in years. He and the Packers were heavily beaten by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-10, and it saw the first-ballot Hall of Famer throw his first pick-six in what feels like decades. Since that loss, Green Bay has gone on a 4-2 run, losing to the Vikings and the Indianapolis Colts in overtime. Rodgers could sneakily throw for 50 touchdowns this year, and it could well go unrecognised with the hype surrounding the play of Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes. The Packers have been fantastic on offense, and have only scored less than 30 points on three occasions. Jim Schwartz is going to have a torrid time game planning for this.
The Biggest Threat- Davante Adams
It is the second of a four-game stretch where the Eagles face one of the NFL's best wide receivers. Adams has 908 receiving yards through nine games this season, and remarkably averages 100+ receiving yards per game. He is Rodgers' favourite target across the entire field and in the red zone. He has 11 receiving touchdowns this season, and it is going to be another tough afternoon for Darius Slay who just faced DK Metcalf on Monday Night.
Everyone remembers how Adams destroyed the Eagles secondary the last time the two teams met. He had 180 yards off 10 receptions and gave Avonte Maddox a lesson he will never forget. Baring in mind Adams did not finish the game, and it is fair to say that was the deciding factor in what was a statement win for Doug Pederson last season. Barring any disaster, he will not be so lucky this time. The threat of Adams on the field will also leave space open for the other Green Bay receivers. As great as Adams is, Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are also talented receivers. Adams has an impact on the field no matter where he is, and you can argue he is the most well rounded in the league at this present time. Let us hope Jim Schwartz does not make any comments in jest of his ability.
What to Target- Their run Defense
It was mentioned last week, and Pederson decided it was essential to run the ball nine times with his running back. Carson Wentz led the team in rushing on Monday night as the frustration surrounding the Eagles Head Coach's play-calling boiled. However, the Packers have struggled against the run over the last few seasons, and it has followed over into this year. Although they rank middle of the pack in total rushing yards conceded, which is down to the large leads they build every week, they rank 25th in yards per attempt. This is an area that needs to be targeted on Sunday, regardless of who is calling plays.
We saw David Montgomery last Sunday have the longest run of his career, and arguably his best game of the season. Miles Sanders and Boston Scott are both better running backs than Montgomery and could feast on this run defense. Sanders was quoted suggesting that the Eagles should lean on the run in a press conference earlier this week. If the players can see it, you would have to hope that the coaches can too. Last years game must also serve as a reminder of how vital the running game is to a successful offense. Sanders had 72 yards, whilst current practise squad player, Jordan Howard had his best day in an Eagles jersey with 87 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the night. If the Eagles are going to have any luck Sunday, they must run the ball. Extend drives, get the offense down the field, open things up in the passing game and keep Aaron Rodgers off the field for as long as possible.
Who else to watch our for:
Robert Tonyan- The Packers tight end has emerged as one of Rodgers' favourite targets this season ranking behind Valdes-Scantling and Adams with the third-most receiving yards on the team. He is an athletic tight end that excels in runs after the catch. The Eagles have struggled against these kinds of players on a couple of occasions this season. Tyler Higbee and George Kittle both had big days against the Eagles linebacker crew. However, since Nate Gerry went on IR, tight ends have not had as much joy, and the performances of Alex Singleton and TJ Edwards have played a vital part in that. This Sunday will present a difficult challenge for them.
Jaire Alexander- Alexander has quickly established himself as one of the NFL's best cornerbacks and has even been ranked in first at the position by Pro Football Focus. He has only allowed 403 yards on the season, so expect him to be tracking Jalen Reagor and Travis Fulgham for much of Sunday afternoon. His presence could well influence a low in confidence Carson Wentz to throw away from him for much of the afternoon.