The Packers entered the season as the Super Bowl pick for many pundits. Injuries have decimated their roster, yet they still managed to overcome the roster depletion and make the playoffs.
Like him or not, Mike Vick is an amazing comeback story. To come all the way back from serving prison time as a convicted felon to being a viable MVP candidate is simply amazing. He is truly one of the most gifted athletes in the history of the NFL.
The Packers seem to be clicking on both offense and defense as they prepare for today's game. In fact, many are picking the Pack to upset the Eagles on their home field, something no Packer team has ever done in the playoffs. The Packers lost the 1960 NFL Championship to the Eagles and no fan can forget the "4th-and-26" playoff game in the 2003 season.
Offense shouldn't be a problem for the Packers against the Eagles. The Bears did a great job shutting them down last week, but the four and five-receiver sets should give the Philly defense fits all day.
Aaron Rodgers will need to continue to be accurate with his passing and avoid the pass rush. He'll need to be mindful of the front that the defense gives him. Despite not having much of a running game, he must utilize it if the Eagles continually drop six and seven into pass coverage. It's a bit of a cliché but the Packers' best defense against Vick is a ball-controlled offense.
Who wins today?
Defensively, control will be the key as well: controlled aggression. Dom Capers cannot allow his defense to just sit back and hope Vick beats himself; he won't do that. He needs to be as aggressive with his play-calling against Vick as he was against Jay Cutler last week.
If Charles Woodson consistently blitzes and gets to Vick, the outcome will almost certainly favor the Packers. However, if the Packers don't blitz and stay in their lanes, Vick will simply scramble out of the pocket and kill them with his feet all day.
The Eagles have speed to burn at key positions. Containing that speed will be imperative and will come down to three questions for the Pack. Can the linebackers contain LeSean McCoy on running plays and screens out of the backfield? Will Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields be able to limit yards after the catch by Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson? Perhaps most importantly, can punter Tim Masthay keep the ball away from Jackson as effectively as he did against Devin Hester last week?
Certainly all the key aspects needed for a Packers win are attainable. Will it happen? I don't think it will. Much like yesterday, I expect a great ball game, but I don't foresee the Packers going into Philly and coming away with a victory.
Vick, McCoy, Maclin and Jackson all possess too much speed and athletic ability for the Packers on defense and special teams. Rodgers and company will keep it close with their great offense, but I think Vick makes one big play at the end of the game to head to Chicago next week. Eagles 27, Packers 23.
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