With a father from the heart of Wisconsin and a mother from the Philadelphia area, sports are sometimes an issue of debate within my household, at least during football season. Fortunately, when it comes to baseball, both of my parents and I are diehard Phillies fans, which may be partially due to the fact that the Brewers did not exist until 1970. For football, however, my parents and I are fans of both the Eagles and the Packers. My dad and I are Packers first, and my mom is Eagles first. I always dread when these two teams play each other, especially in the playoffs, which occurs a lot, because I know that one of my two teams must lose.
Coming into September, I believed that the Packers were the best team in the NFC and were easily Super Bowl bound. However, the Packers were the most injury plagued Super Bowl contender this year and yet somehow still made the playoffs. As painful as this game will be to watch, I do want to see the Packers win, and a Packer victory is my prediction for Sunday.
This game will largely come down to the two quarterbacks who made a huge impact on their teams this year. Aaron Rodgers has become a major offensive threat who can pick apart a defense much like the way that Peyton Manning does. Rodgers led a team that was fifth in the NFL in passing this year, but he also has the ability to scramble when there are no passing options. Rodgers this season rushed for 356 yards at an average of 5.6 yards per carry and threw for 3922 yards. The Packers offense is fueled primarily by Rodgers passing ability, which was helped by Greg Jennings, who was fourth in receiving yards and second in receiving touchdowns.
Michael Vick on the other hand has developed into a major threat as a pocket passer and still is a major threat to run for yardage. Vick rushed for 676 yards at an average of 6.8 yards but only passed for 3018 yards, his first season where he passed for over 3000 yards. Vick led the Eagles to be the ninth best passing team and the fifth best rushing team. That being said, DeSean Jackson has still been an explosive offensive player being the twelfth best in receiving yards but is tied for twenty-ninth in receiving touchdowns.
Overall, the Packers have the edge when it comes to defense, but the Eagles do still have a strong defense that the Packers need to worry about. The Packers defense is ranked fifth, and the Eagles defense is ranked twelfth overall. The Packers have a much better defense against the pass than the Eagles, which will compensate for Vick’s newfound pocket passing ability. The Packers are fifth in passing yards against, which is led by their strong secondary containing Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Nick Collins, and Charlie Peprah. Their defense was second overall with the number of interceptions. Not only are the Packers good at covering receivers and preventing huge passing games, they are also good at pressuring the quarterback, ranking second in the number of sacks this season, led largely by Clay Matthews.
Where the Packers lack in the defense is in their inability to stop the run. The Packers defense ranked eighteenth against the run, which is where the Eagles might find their strength this Sunday. The best option for the Eagles is to run throughout the game. Vick is a playmaker, but passing could be dangerous against the Packers. The Eagles will have a much greater chance of making big plays by exploiting the Packers inability to stop the run game.
The Eagles, on the other hand, are ranked fifteenth if both yards against in passing and rushing. The Packers best chance of winning the game is through the air, especially since the Packers already lack a substantial rushing game. That being said, the Eagles still ranked third in their number of interceptions this season. The Packers should have the ability to beat the Eagles on the long ball, but the Eagles will be prepared for primarily passing drives by the Packers. However, the Eagles should also not expect any rush game at all since Rodgers has the ability to rush to make plays and Brandon Jackson still had a decent year running that ball. In addition, the Packers did have eleven rushing touchdowns this year, four of which were by Rodgers, and four were by their power fullback John Kuhn.
The Packers fifth-ranked, top-notch passing offense should lead to a victory against the average passing defense of the Eagles. Rodgers should be able to exploit the Eagles passing defense and lead their team to a Wild Card Playoff victory. The Packers have an explosive passing game and stellar passing defense, and with Rodgers leading that explosive game, the Packers are the easy favorites for victory through the air.
The Packers passing offense versus the Eagles passing defense is in favor of the Packers. The Eagles passing offense versus the Packers passing defense is also in favor of the Packers.
The Eagles will need to rely on their run game this Sunday if they are to win against the Packers, but it will be very difficult for the Eagles to create enough of a running game against the Packers to compensate for the Packers ability to win the game through the air. The Eagles run game is also hurt by the fact the Vick is nursing a quadriceps injury, and, although Vick is listed as probable for Sunday, it is very unlikely that his quadriceps injury will be 100% by then. This fact alone hurts the Eagles run game, because Vick will be less of a threat to run and will also be susceptible to injury even further. We cannot forget that the Packers already knocked one Eagles quarterback out of the game this year.
The Eagles rushing offense versus the Packers rushing defense is in favor of the Eagles, but it is hurt by Vick’s injury. The Packers rushing offense versus the Eagles rushing defense is also in favor of the Eagles.
Overall, my prediction is that the game is won by the Packers through the air against the Eagles, but I will be a nervous wreck either way. I would be happy for either team to win and disappointed for the team that loses. I am very superstitious about things like this, but I do believe that the Packers are favored to win this game. The season by both teams overall, their records, and their recent performances show that the Packers are the favorite this week. Vick is an explosive player, but his ability to run the ball will be less of a threat than usual on Sunday. Vick also will not be able to take advantage of the Packers passing defense as well as Rodgers will be able to do to the Eagles passing defense. Rodgers and Vick are the key weapons for both of these teams, but Rodgers is a larger threat against the Eagles than Vick is to the Packers.