Philadelphia Eagles @ Green Bay Packers
Every season has possible let-down games, and this is lining up to be one for the Packers.
With these type of games, there are usually factors that don’t even necessarily directly relate to the talent on the field.
The Packers are coming in with just one loss so far, and are playing in the final of five primetime games. They just took down one of the teams that could be one of their biggest challenges of the season.
They are also on the end of a three-game road trip, with two upcoming home games against two teams that should be playoff contenders — one of which could become the top seed in the NFC, and has been a rough matchup for Green Bay the past few years.
On the other side, the Eagles look to be a team in flux long before this game.
They traded away their starting QB and will likely be fielding a rookie QB who didn’t face top-level competition in college. Their offensive roster is mostly barren of proven talents, and those they do have are either aging (LT Jason Peters is 34, and coming off injuries) or have proven limited so far (Ryan Mathews has talent at RB, but struggles with injuries; Jordan Matthews is a decent slot option, but is working mostly alone).
What the team does have is a potentially devastating defense, and even if their offense fails them most weeks that unit should keep them in games and give them chances.
Fletcher Cox broke out in a big way last year (9.5 sacks as an interior lineman; 89.9 PFF grade); he and the stable of useful linemen in Philadelphia (Connor Barwin, Bennie Logan, Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham) will get unleashed by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz (he led Detroit in their emergence into a devastating defensive front in his time as their head coach, and also was the architect behind the Bills garnering the most sacks in the league — 54 — and ranking #2 in Defensive DVOA in 2014). They also have created one of the better safety combos across the league in Rodney McLeod (#10 safety grade, per PFF) and Malcolm Jenkins (#3 safety grade, per PFF).
Rodgers and Co. will have to be one their game to prevent a hiccup, especially the offensive line. The unit will have had over half a season to gel, and if they can be anywhere close to what we saw in the 2014 group, they could limit the damage Schwartz’s men can do in the trenches; doing that will let Rodgers pick apart the weaker points on the defense — mainly, the young linebackers and suspect corners — and move the offense.
Though I do think this will be tougher than the records will indicate (even before the Bradford trade, I wasn’t high on Philly; now, I expect that offense to make them one of the worst teams in the league by the end of the year), Green Bay finds a way to do enough versus a brutal defensive front, while their own defense makes multiple key plays and pretty much shuts down a lacking Philly offense to keep the game ultimately out of reach.
Green Bay 16
Green Bay Record: 10-1
Next: Packers vs. Texans