Which shade of green—the Green Bay Packers or the Philadelphia Eagles—will move closer to winning all the money?
Eagles green is closest to the color of money. I'll let you know if they'll be moving on in the company playoffs.
With Michael Vick and company—including LeSean “Shady” McCoy—they’re money when it comes to moving the ball. Philly sports the No. 1 offense in the Super Bowl playoffs this year. A lot of opposing defenses took it on the chin.
Aaron Rodgers and Vick could have bleeding chins from the smashmouth football Green Bay-Philly should provide in this NFC Wild Card battle.
In their first matchup this season, Kevin Kolb was torched by the Packers defense. Vick came in the game and was virtually unstoppable in the Green Bay victory.
The Packers have the matchups on defense, however, to hold Vick and the vertical passing game in check. Green Bay is the NFL’s No. 5-ranked team in total defense.
The Eagles could be seen keeping their quarterback safe from them by using maximum protection schemes. In the pocket, Vick could be surrounded by a combination of blocking tight ends and backs on a lot of plays in this game.
If this scheme works, then Vick could test the top of the Packers secondary against DeSean Jackson. The dazzling quarterback could also use bootlegs and play-action to develop a clean pocket and uncork a patented throw.
Streaking on Jackson’s flank, receiver Jeremy Maclin also ranks high in the blazing speed department.
Maclin is a secret weapon in the kick return game as well. He excelled at it in college at the University of Missouri. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back there for some of Philly’s runbacks.
Eagles coach Andy Reid could pull out all of the stops to win this game. The Eagles were only 4-4 at Lincoln Field in the regular season. A loss could drop them under .500 at home. The Packers and Aaron Rodgers beat them in Philly to start the season.
What Do the Eagles Need to Do to Stop Rodgers?
He has to be constantly forced to tip his hand in obvious passing situations and look down the barrel of the gun. The pass rush—stunts and blitzes—need to come strong down the middle.
Trent Cole and the other Eagles defensive ends will have to pressure him off the edges. Due to his rushing ability, they'll also have to worry about keeping him contained. If Cole and the Eagles pressure him down the pipe, Rodgers could find himself scrambling to make plays.
He’s not as much of a gunslinger as Brett Favre. He started off the preseason as one of the most impressive players in the NFL. He could finish as such.
Such a notion, though, is folly to Philly.
Giving up 110 yards per game rushing, Philly is No. 15 in rushing defense.
Green Bay, however, is one of the worst rushing teams left in the playoffs. Only New Orleans and Indianapolis rank below them.
The jobs must also be done by the nickelbacks and the strong safeties for Philadelphia’s No. 14-ranked passing defense.
Green Bay’s receiving corps, combined with Rodgers, is their offense’s lifeblood. If Asante Samuel can snatch a pick six, then he could slip the Eagles through to the next round. Greg Jennings had 12 touchdown receptions in the regular season, and he could catch them slipping—like Vick could do to the Packers.
What Do the Packers Need to do Stop Vick?
The Pack has to make it so Jackson won’t have enough time to get deep. He can do it against any team, but Packers pressure on Vick could foil his effectiveness. If Green Bay can execute the game plan the Vikings did against the Eagles, then the Pack is in business.
Vick’s timing was off in the passing game against the Vikings. Some people blamed it on injuries and the Eagles' lack of motivation in the game.
Pressure up the middle and from the edges was the blue print the Minnesota Vikings used. They’ll need to keep him from getting out of the pocket and rushing for over 100 yards like he did in the first game. The Eagles' suspect offensive line—no doubt—can be had by the Packers rush.
Philadelphia is the No. 5 rushing team in the NFL, and No. 4 among playoffs teams. Their passing game is often an extension of the running game. McCoy posted 1,672 combined yards, and he should be available for slip screens and net big yardage on them.
That’s because the Packers could abandon all rhyme or reason to get to Vick inside the pocket. Linebacker Clay Matthews knocked Kevin Kolb out of the game in Week 1. Matthews could be out to prove he’s healthy and be overzealous.
His team is ranked a healthy No. 5 in the NFL in both pass defense and passing offense. With Rodgers and company, they put up about 260 yards per game in the air. They allow, meanwhile, only 194 yards passing from the opposition.
That ratio is second only to New Orleans’ 277-193 among playoffs teams.
The Eagles were knocked out of the playoffs last season by the Dallas Cowboys. This year, it’s the Eagles who can return the favor by playing in Dallas’ home dome in the Super Bowl. In January 2010, Vick threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Maclin against the Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card Game.
Vick is a playoffs veteran from his days with the Atlanta Falcons as well. He led them to an upset victory over Green Bay in 2003. Shattering the Packers' Super Bowl hopes, the Falcons ended Green Bay’s undefeated record in the playoffs in games at Lambeau Field.
The Eagles quarterback is 2-2 in the playoffs as a starter. He has a 4-2 passing touchdown to interception ratio and gets 6.5 yards per completion. Under the bright lights of the playoffs, he gets 8.6 yards per carry.
This will be Rodgers' first NFL postseason game, and it remains to be seen how he’ll respond with the world watching. Being left off the Pro Bowl team, his anger could blind him from the bright lights. He could hatch a legend, or he could lay an egg.
He has been absolutely outstanding, though, in the last two weeks. In two must-wins after he came back from a concussion, he’s thrown five touchdowns and one interception. Add the 731 yards passing—calling him hot will be an understatement.
No doubt, the Packers come in with the “hot” advantage—if there is such a thing in the playoffs. They Momentum from the season transfers well to the NFL playoffs—the Jets last year are a case in point.
Vick is lukewarm and was rested in the final game of the regular season. You know what they say about a body at rest and a body in motion. Will Vick’s body be firing on all cylinders or be resting for the rest of the postseason?
Here is my prognostication.
Green Bay was hot down the stretch, but the lukewarm Eagles—3-3 and 0-2 lately— will cool them off. Although they nabbed 24 interceptions, Philly’s No. 1-ranked offense will be too much for the stingy Packers defense.
Reports state Vick is 100 percent healthy, but that remains to be seen. If you believe reports, then he could go completely off against Green Bay. He will get at least one rushing touchdown if he’s fine.
The Eagles all-time rookie rushing leader, McCoy will be huge in Vick’s regard. If nothing more for play-action fakes and maximum protection schemes, he will be a key.
Although the rush defenses are about even, Philly will dominate the rushing game. The team that does that and wins the turnovers battle usually wins in the NFL playoffs.
Will the Eagles avenge their home loss to the Packers in Week 1 in the regular season?
If Vick is Andy Reid playoffs ready and not Jim Mora era ready, then the Eagles roll. Vick’s cornerback teammate—Samuel—will step up, in any case, and help Philly move forward in the playoffs: 31-24.