Packers vs. Eagles: 5 Bold Predictions for Wild Card Sunday's Epic Showdown
By now it should be no surprise how both the Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) and the Green Bay Packers (10-6) boast two of the most dynamic offenses in all of football.
On one side, resides Michael Vick: undisputedly the most entertaining player in the league. On the other side, remains Aaron Rodgers: one of the most coveted passers in the entire NFL.
Both extremely enticing, yet extremely lethal when provoked.
Philadelphia comes into Sunday's matchup with an NFC East crown, despite having lost two straight to finish out their regular season. Green Bay, on the other hand, enters Sunday on a two game win-streak; having defeated two of the most aggressive defenses in football in back-to-back weeks.
When the Eagles and Packers hit the field Sunday afternoon for the second time in one season, expect nothing short of a bone-chilling fight for the ages.
So for you, the reader, here are five resolute predictions for Sunday afternoon's monumental matchup.
1. Aaron Rodgers Will Pass... a Lot.
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Sustaining his second concussion of the season proved to be a meager speed bump for the most clutch quarterback in the NFL.
Completing 67.8 percent of his passes, over 600 yards through the air, and five touchdowns over the past two weeks has put Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers back on the map, including Green Bay's playoff aspirations along with it.
However if there was one thing to take away from Sunday's victory, it should be how Green Bay's offensive struggles could possibly carry over into this week's game in Philadelphia. However, the fact that the offense seemed to click in all the right places once the fourth quarter rolled around will ultimately be what everyone takes away from Sunday.
Now, against the average pass defense of the Eagles (allowing 216.8 yards per game through the air, along with allowing a league worst 31 passing touchdowns) what do you think Mike McCarthy plans on doing? I'll leave that one up to you.
If you got the memo, expect McCarthy to game plan accordingly: throw the quick slants that have become a staple of this Green Bay offense since Rodgers became the starter back in 2008, and let the receivers loose. If Rodgers can do that, as he proved last week in completing passes to nine different wide-outs, the Packers will be on their way to Atlanta.
2. Michael Vick Will Be Severely Limited
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In Green Bay's week one meeting with Philly, Michael Vick was granted only two quarters of football to try and pull out a victory after Kevin Kolb's injury.
During the time in which he played, Vick was 16-24 for 175 yards threw the air. Impressive stuff from a guy who hadn't played a meaningful game since 2006.
However one thing to remember: Mike McCarthy and the Packers never game-planned for Vick.
This time around, Vick enters Sunday's game hobbled and far from 100 percent with lingering quadriceps injuries that actually sidelined him for Philadelphia's regular-season finale against Dallas.
Be that as it may, defensive coordinators must always account for number seven when he is on the field, making Dom Capers' job a whole lot more difficult.
Still, with Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson playing at the top of their game, Vick's magical season may come to an unexpected end this Sunday.
If the Packers can continue sticking to what works for them defensively, Vick will be under pressure more than he's ever known so far this season -- and possibly his career.
3. Green Bay Will Allow No More Than One Sack
Green Bay's offensive line has had their issues, as noted in last week's struggles against Chicago's superb defense. Costly penalties and inexcusable misreads have led to Rodgers being ruffed up more than ever.
Allowing 38 sacks on Aaron Rodgers this season has had its reprocutions: concussions, absence from critical games, and the whole nine yards.
Against Philly's defense, having forced 39 sacks so far this season, Rodgers will more than likely be under enough pressure to cause a potential turnover. In addition to the Eagles' 23 forced interceptions this season (just one behind that of Green Bay's defense), Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson will be looming in the secondary.
Still, the issue at hand is Green Bay's protection schemes. Packers offensive tackle and first round pick Brian Bulaga had his most disappointing performance of the season last Sunday -- whiping out two would-have-been late game first downs the Green Bay offense needed so dearly.
Philly's front four hasn't generated as much pressure as it did earlier in the season, so the onus is on Trent Cole to fight past constant double teams and force Rodgers into hurrying his throws. Cole, who had 10 sacks, is the team's best pass rusher.
Inadequate protection of Rodgers has continued to become one of the biggest issues in Green Bay this season -- and the beauty of it is, that the Packers will get the chance to turn things around on Sunday afternoon.
4. DeSean Jackson Will Have No More Than Five Catches
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Tough call here, but you have to think Capers will have his secondary ready for the challenge.
As Michael Vick's number one receiver, and primary threat to score via the long-ball, DeSean Jackson has certainly been a menace in opposing secondaries so far this season.
But as much as Jackson has been hazard, he has also somewhat of a disappointment -- averaging just under three catches per game in the regular season. However, let's take into accountability his inevitably impressive statistics: with 1,056 yards, six touchdowns, and 22.5 yards per reception, Jackson still remains a viable threat to Nick Collins and the Green Bay secondary.
The Packers have allowed 16 passing touchdowns while forcing 24 interceptions this season, making Philadelphia's already uneasy passing strategy that much more vulnerable.
Another interesting note: after Green Bay, Philly has faced only two other pass defenses ranked in the top ten in the league in terms of yards per game allowed (Indianapolis and New York Giants). Now, what does that tell you about the Eagles?
To me, it says that, though very explosive when firing on all cylinders, the Eagles' passing game has yet to face any up-to-snuff passing defenses this season -- which is more than likely why Philly has had their success through the air.
Besides -- look at who will on Jackson from beginning to end: cornerback Charles Woodson and saftey Nick Collins. Both of whom are Pro-Bow starters. Sorry, DeSean. Sunday probably won't be your best game.
5. Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson Will Account For Two Interceptions
Trent Edwards, Shaun Hill, Brett Favre, Mark Sanchez, Jon Kitna, Drew Stanton, Eli Manning, and Jay Cutler all have one thing in common: they have each thrown at least two interceptions to Green Bay's defense in each of their starts against the Packers.
That's half of Green Bay's entire schedule.
Well you should be, because Green Bay is second in the league in total interceptions recorded (24), just behind that of New England (25).
Nevertheless, Philly attains a multitude of explosive receivers in Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, tight end Brent Celek, and running back LeSean McCoy out of the backfield, and Green Bay will have their hands full -- that's for sure
Packers coach Mike McCarthy summed Green Bay's defense up rather clearly in his post-game press conference: "That’s always been the goal in my tenure here, and I think we definitely have reached that. Scoring defense, we’re No. 2 in the league. I think that speaks volumes of the improvement we’ve made from last year to this year."
Yeah, no kidding.
An injury-prone Vick may or may not make those critical game-changing turnovers on Sunday, but the Packers will be looking to force whatever may be necessary upon him. Should be an interesting matchup, nonetheless.
Prediction? Packers Win.
Steam rolling through the then playoff-bound New York Giants, the Green Bay Packers held their own destiny.
Then, last Sunday, the green and gold completed their playoff conquest by sticking out yet another tough matchup with the Chicago Bears.
Since 1966, when the Super Bowl era officially kicked-off, the Packers have faced the Eagles one time in the postseason. That game, let it be noted was in the 2003 NFC Divisional round where Donovan McNabb completed the infamous 4th and 26 pass to keep their game-winning drive afloat.
Based on history itself, Green Bay will probably be the underdog this Sunday in Philly. Take away whatever you please from their week one meeting, but the Packers are ready for the challenge, and Michael Vick's time is almost up.
The Eagles offense is solid, without a doubt. But the Packers boast a top-five defense that has competed much more consistent competition this season, and Andy Reid's crew is no exception.
Nevertheless, the mentality the Packers will need as they enter before a hostile Philadelphia crowd is simple: stick to what is working. If Green Bay can accomplish that, then they will have a date with the Atlanta Falcons next weekend.
Prediction: Philadelphia 17, Green Bay 21