Eagles vs Packers: Week 4 Matchup

Aaron breaks down both sides of the ball in his preview of Thursday night's showdown with the Eagles. 

Doug Pederson's Philadelphia Eagles come limping into Lambeau Field on Thursday night to take on Matt LaFleur's 3-0 Green Bay Packers in a nationally televised affair. 

Here's a look at what to expect from both sides of the ball and my sure-to-be-incorrect call on who wins the game. 

When The Eagles Have The Ball

A lot has been made of the injury situation at wide receiver for the Eagles, and for good reason. The play at that position has directly contributed to their losses this season, especially last week's loss to the Detroit Lions after Philly's pass catchers dropped at least seven balls. It looks like Alshon Jeffery will be back for this game, although speedster DeSean Jackson will most likely remain sidelined. 

No matter what you've heard, quarterback Carson Wentz remains a premiere weapon. The guy can put the ball anywhere on the field from pretty much anywhere in or outside the pocket. If your coverage is good downfield, he can kill you with his legs. And if you do scheme up pressure to beat the Eagles very talented offensive line, you better get home with more than one defensive back or even linebacker because Wentz is a big brute of a guy who can shed tacklers and break free to take your soul with a big play after you thought you had him in the pocket. 

Speaking of rushing the quarterback, one thing to monitor is the matchup between Za'Darius Smith and whoever the Eagles line up at left tackle. Long time starter Jason Peters left last week's game due to illness and his replacement, rookie Andre Dillard, is dealing with a knee injury after getting rolled up on in the loss to the Lions. At his best, Peters is a premiere pass protector, but any kind of dip in his performance for any reason could give Smith an opportunity to pounce, especially at home where the noise should be a factor for the opposing offense. Smith is dealing with a knee injury himself, but there have been no indications that it should keep him from playing. 

The Eagles will look at what the Broncos were able to do along the interior of the Packers defensive line last week and look to replicate some of that success. As Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said last year, once you show a weakness on tape, teams will go back to it repeatedly until you show you can stop it. Last year it was the deep shots that targeted Kentrell Brice in coverage. Pettine and company have to be sure last Sunday's game against the Broncos doesn't become the start of a week to week problem. 

One way I expect Pederson to try and stay ahead of the sticks is to throw to his running backs on first down. The Packers have given up more catches to running backs than any other defense and we saw some suspect tackling rear its ugly head last week. Getting guys like Miles Sanders or Darren Sproles into space on first down will test Green Bay's linebackers and secondary. 

It was encouraging to see Josh Jackson get some run at safety last week against the Broncos, and I'd expect to see his use there expand on Thursday night. He's a better option than Will Redmond when it comes to trying to find a replacement for Raven Greene. I expect Pettine to use more of that three safety look against the Eagles as Jackson gets more comfortable in that role. 

With so many questions and inconsistency at wide receiver, Wentz will look to tight end Zach Ertz early and often. Look for a combination of Blake Martinez and Jackson to try and limit the damage Ertz is able to do. 

When The Packers Have The Ball

Much has been made of the struggles on offense, but really, they are close. I know it doesn't feel that way when you see Aaron Rodgers throwing consecutive passes into the turf, but they are. As LaFleur indicated on Monday, it's all correctable and the answer lies in the details. 

The Eagles present a good opportunity for a "get right" game for Aaron Rodgers and his pass catchers. At the start of the week, the Eagles had three healthy cornerbacks. It will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz utilizes his personnel in the secondary. 

Getting Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham more involved has been the drumbeat coming out of 1265 Lombardi this week, but it remains to be seen if Graham is even able to play as he's dealing with both groin and quad injuries this week. 

Adams will draw a crowd, but it's incumbent on LaFleur to utilize every trick in the book to get him free, whether that's by using motion, lining him up in a bunch set or even putting him in the backfield, something he did two weeks ago against the Vikings. Any and all methods need to be explored to free up the Packers premiere offensive weapon. 

MVS had an inconsistent game against the Broncos, but he also showed flashes while offering some production. The kid is close. He should find ample opportunities against an undermanned Philadelphia secondary that needs to pay attention to Adams. 

One possible way the Packers could open things up is by utilizing rookie wide receiver Darrius Shepherd on some of their jet sweep action and using his speed to get vertical out of the backfield. 

Of course, this offense will always be predicated on the zone run and after a week that saw Jamaal Williams get the workload, expect Aaron Jones to be featured once again on Thursday night. I don't expect the Packers to be able to move the ball on the ground with any kind of consistency against a stingy Eagles run defense, but the attempts will be there for Jones, if only to keep the Philly linebackers honest and open up some boot action possibilities. 

Finally, I wanted to touch on the play of Aaron Rodgers so far through the first three games and how I think he's playing some of the smartest, unselfish ball of his career. 

As I said at the top, I get how its frustrating to watch the ball get thrown into the dirt. More often than not, that's the smart play. Rodgers knows what he has in this team's defense and he knows they will not only keep them in games, but he knows they will undoubtedly get the offense more opportunities. The Packers currently lead the league in takeaways and last week was a prime example of how those extra possessions can lead to points. 

Rodgers has always been risk adverse, and we've certainly gotten used to his penchant for not wanting to throw up high risk passes. But so far this season, he has seemingly taken that to another level, and I think much of it has to do with the fact that he knows that more often than not, the defense will keep them in the game. 

I don't necessarily think a lot will change in that regard against the Eagles, but I do expect the short week to force LaFleur and Rodgers to keep things a bit simpler on offense and that will, in turn. help them execute. Look for Rodgers to have his first real "Rodgers" performance of the year. Part of that should come through the quick game. We've seen the Packers trying to push the ball downfield this year. (It's like McCarthy never left!) Just move the chains, guys. 

Enough Already, Who Wins?

I think Wentz and the Eagles will give the Packers a good run for their money, but ultimately going on the road with a banged up team on a short week will catch up to them.

Give me the Packers in this one, 31-20. 

12 points

Comments (40)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
EdsLaces's picture

September 25, 2019 at 12:55 pm

Nice read. The dead horse has been beaten too much already, but I don't understand why we dont implement the quick pass attack. We always crush when we do..

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Tarynfor12's picture

September 25, 2019 at 01:30 pm

This was a game I had marked as a loss when Philly was healthy. This is now a game that GB cannot really afford to lose especially with the health of Philly making it a near gimme than a battle.
I expect the GB offense to perform much better and secure a 27-17 win with a couple of sustained clock eating drives to give the defense some extra rest in game.

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scullyitsme's picture

September 25, 2019 at 02:10 pm

Dang, has someone been slipping kool aid in your coffee in the morning lately? Some of your comments lately have been downright neutral and even positive. I like it. Let me be the first to welcome you to the optimist club. Your special order glasses will be delivered shortly.

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Tarynfor12's picture

September 25, 2019 at 02:59 pm

Don't get ahead of yourself...It's the reality and not kool-aid drinking blind optimism as the basis for my optimism. The defense since preseason was/has been why I have GB as a 9 win team and why I bet over the win total. The offense needs to get right sooner than later as it will burden the defense a tad too long and games will be lost due to it. : )

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murf7777's picture

September 25, 2019 at 08:25 pm

Damn I bet the over 9.5 wins....good for u as I bet early and I know it went down to 9 as the season got closer. I still like 10+ wins as I thought they had a top 10 D. And, with Arod that makes me feel very comfortable at that number.

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Cubbygold's picture

September 26, 2019 at 11:00 am

Agree, after clutch wins in weeks 1 and 2, this is a game that needs to be won. GB at 4-0, with 10 days rest for Dallas, is positioning itself to compete for a bye week.

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albert999's picture

September 25, 2019 at 02:09 pm

Great article and stat
Quick and fast = success

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pacman's picture

September 25, 2019 at 02:48 pm

One thing missing from Fennell's post is the number of pass attempts when holding under/over 2.5 seconds. If AR is playing non-selfishly, this ratio should be much higher than last year.

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Qoojo's picture

September 25, 2019 at 03:30 pm

Z Smith just showed up as questionable on injury list, so that is huge.

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carlos's picture

September 25, 2019 at 06:52 pm

He’ll play

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carlos's picture

September 25, 2019 at 06:52 pm

I hope

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Qoojo's picture

September 25, 2019 at 07:31 pm

Me too. Gary will be seeing more action as Fackrell was a limited participant in practice, and is also questionable for the game.

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splitpea1's picture

September 25, 2019 at 03:42 pm

I would like the PACKERS to stay ahead of the sticks by throwing the ball to the running backs on first down. I thought I saw a statistic that said the Packers lead the league in three-and-outs. No wonder we can't sustain drives--we can never get started! But if we can get in some manageable second and third down situations, it should open up opportunities downfield with the Eagles thin at CB, including missing a starter.

Do we get M. Adams back on defense?

Definitely need to have a defender in the vicinity of Ertz at all times--he's Wentz's favorite receiver so far.

I'm expecting AR to put up some nice numbers, which should mean a win if our defense turns in a reasonably good performance.

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Swisch's picture

September 25, 2019 at 04:01 pm

To me, perhaps the most compelling story line is how our superstar QB works with his mostly inexperienced receivers.
Will Aaron Rodgers, working with Coach Lafleur, find ways to get quick and creative passes to our corps of young receivers, and get them involved in a way that builds their confidence?
It seems hard to overestimate the enthusiasm that is naturally infused in a receiver when he is hopeful the ball will come his way from time to time.
If a guy is open, get him the ball, please. From time to time, mix things up by looking for a big hitter downfield.
If the Eagles are stout against the run, all the more reason for an imaginative array of short passes!
I sincerely hope other staff writers and knowledgeable fans here at CHTV will help me analyze this dramatic dynamic between Rodgers and all his pass catchers.
It's fascinating to me, at least.
Here's hoping Rodgers displays his great gifts of leadership and skill and intelligence by generously spreading the ball around with craftsmanship to an array of teammates.
Dazzle us, and a national audience, by smartly dismantling the defense of the Eagles.

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nostradanus's picture

September 25, 2019 at 03:49 pm

Rodgers Should Have a huge Game on Thursday night with Philadelphia’s banged up secondary. I look for Rogers To have at least three touchdown passes and close to 300 yards in this game Packers win easily 35-17.

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albert999's picture

September 25, 2019 at 05:54 pm

24-13 Pack

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Lphill's picture

September 25, 2019 at 03:54 pm

I think Z Smith plays but maybe Gary gets more reps and more sacks , it could be Gary’s coming out party in Green Bay. Packers 30 Eagles 20 .

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SterlingSharpe's picture

September 25, 2019 at 04:17 pm

Look for the Packers struggling run defense to continue against Sanders & Howard, and look for an unfortunate night with a fumble and a fluke Rodgers Int that goes off the hands of our TE or WR.

Zach Ertz catches 10 balls, and Darren Sproles takes a punt back for a TD.

Eagles 23
Packers 17

Hard to accept, and very costly L. Will be costly in NFC playoff tiebreakers/seeding purposes. Gotta win the NFC games, especially at home.

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Spock's picture

September 26, 2019 at 08:15 am

So, I'm guessing you are more of a "It's not that the glass is half empty, it's got a crack in it, too." kind of guy? :) I'm more inclined to think that the home-field advantage of Philly coming to Lambeau (assuming it's not like that disgusting sea of purple Packers/Vikings game) and crowd noise will make a Packers victory highly likely. The days of mobile a QB having a "career day" I believe are FINALLY behind us [knocks on my cane - It's handy to always have wood nearby :)]. I just think that the offense -as Nagler points out above - is close and this is the game for Aaron & company to break out.

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Turophile's picture

September 25, 2019 at 05:14 pm

When Jersey Al (in his 'polluted mindset' piece) mentioned Kevin King as a possible safety down the road, I replied fine..........but not before Josh Jackson gets a good look there. He pointed out this piece where you state that Josh did get some safety looks............so I came here to say "Well spotted".

You always come over as a fan first, and media guy second, which is why I like what you put out.

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albert999's picture

September 25, 2019 at 05:56 pm

27-13 Pack
GO PACK GO

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albert999's picture

September 25, 2019 at 05:57 pm

Quick slants in the middle will end 2nd/3rd and longs

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PatrickGB's picture

September 25, 2019 at 08:40 pm

I think that the defense takes a step back this week. Or maybe the offense just isn’t up to the task. I hope it’s not the case but it’s just a bad feeling that I have and the team comes crashing back to earth.
Eagles 27, Packers 17 :-(

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stockholder's picture

September 25, 2019 at 09:32 pm

Rodgers only needs to protect the ball this game. More screen passes please. High percentage passes, and solid D will win this game.

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Grandfathered's picture

September 25, 2019 at 10:02 pm

I would respectfully disagree with the author that Rogers is more risk averse because he has a better defense, and that this is good somehow. Rogers doesn't throw toss up balls because he has gotten more conservative, and he doesn't have the receivers who win fights for the ball. Or he doesn't trust hem to fight for it.

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lpirlot's picture

September 25, 2019 at 11:43 pm

There's a reason they renamed the state Wentzylvania - watch out !!

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Lofton82's picture

September 26, 2019 at 06:36 am

Yeah O.K, but he's in Smithconsin now. ;)

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Lofton82's picture

September 26, 2019 at 04:07 am

Hi guys. Packer fan since 1982 from the UK and finally just signed up. So first post. Go easy ;)

I think we win this one but it will be tight, mostly, and will hinge on a few key areas.

1- This is the best O Line we've faced yet, although they do have injury issues at left tackle (if not elsewhere too) so there will be opportunities to pressure Wentz. Z Smith is carrying a knock so Gary will have to take more snaps. Hopefully Z can rest up after this one and be back to 100%. The Eagles will look to rush through the middle and especially after seeing how we stuttered here against Denver.

2- If you're a defensive Co ordinator planning to play us at the moment, you realise Rodgers is reluctant to throw to his #2 and #3 guys. So if you contain Adams, you have a good chance of making him throw where he doesn't really want to, or better still, into the turf / sideline. Seeing there isn't much faith in a TE helps that narrative. So shut down Adams, plug the middle as our O Line don't blow holes regularly enough for Jones, and let the drive fizzle out as the other guys drop catches or get no looks due to lack of confidence.

Sounds good in theory, however this Eagles secondary can't afford to do that tonight. Their secondary is so banged up that if they double up on Davante, they are leaving Gmo and MVS open and MVS in particular with his vertical threat could and should be lethal. Once they have to take heat off Adams to cover elsewhere I expect Adams to cash in. The ball will be in the air more tonight and I'd use Shepherd and Kumerow more too. Maybe not slants but quick outs. Be strong where they're not.

3- Ertz. He's the key to the Eagles tonight. Yes they have a very good running game and that will feature most but if you're the Eagles you know there will be some real estate in the middle. They're not going to throw much and when the do it will be most likely be to Ertz and most likely quick and through the middle. Martinez and one of the safeties will be busy and key. I expect Pettine to scheme against the run though and we'll be better in this regard than we were against Denver.

To sum up. I think the O clicks tonight with variety. We'll pass more successfully and get some momentum like we had in the first quarter against the Vikings, only this time it will be sustained. Reeling from our passing game, Jones will find space outside too and have a good night. For that reason I say Green Bay 35 - 17 with Davante on the board with 2 scores.

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Hematite's picture

September 26, 2019 at 05:18 am

Good job on your first post!

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Cartwright's picture

September 26, 2019 at 05:33 am

keep writing, that was a good post.

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Spock's picture

September 26, 2019 at 08:22 am

Welcome to our new contributor from across the pond. I'm hoping you'll have a good reason to get "pissed" after this one. :)

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Tundraboy's picture

September 26, 2019 at 08:23 am

Welcome. And a great choice for your name!

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PatrickGB's picture

September 26, 2019 at 09:38 am

Welcome! It’s good to have you here. I agree with a lot of what you wrote. I especially like where you wrote that the pass will set up the run for us. I am doubtful that it will happen yet I hope it might. I think that the Eagles have a TE behind Ertz on their roster that will do some damage to our defense because of our lack of depth at middle linebacker.

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PackfanNY's picture

September 26, 2019 at 09:50 am

I liked your post. However, second paragraph indicates you feel game will be “tight”. Last paragraph Green Bay 35-17. I assume you think close until Packers pull away? I am not complaining and I would love a tight 18 point win. Love the optimism! Go Pack!

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Lofton82's picture

September 26, 2019 at 11:33 am

Yeah I thought that might come up. Ha!

What I mean is that it will mostly be tight but the key moments that go in our favour will lead to scores and that most of the match ups will be favourable in terms of their weakened DBs. Another way of saying that is that the score might skew how close the game actually is in the main. If that makes sense.

Perhaps I got a bit carried away by the time I finished writing it, but I'll stand by it.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

September 26, 2019 at 01:13 pm

Welcome and keep posting what's on your mind

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PackfanNY's picture

September 26, 2019 at 01:29 pm

Bottom line we think the Packers are going to win.

If you are in the UK you better get some sleep. Going to be an early morning for you! I visited the UK in April same time as the NFL Draft. I was sitting in my London Hotel Room at 2:30 or 3 a.m. watching the computer when Packers drafted Gary and then Savage. Made for a looooooooong, tiring next day. You need to be devoted if you are watching tonight’s game live.

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Lofton82's picture

September 26, 2019 at 04:03 pm

I'm used to it by now. Plenty of Coffee next day. I watched the Draft on a laptop in Spain and stayed up all night. Slept by the pool. I love early kickoffs as you can imagine.

Gary surprised me but when I saw him crying I thought: Yep, thats how you react to being picked by Green Bay. I think the kid will end up being a star.

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PackfanNY's picture

September 26, 2019 at 05:05 pm

Nice talking to you Lofton82. Hopefully, our guys come through tonight and get you the win. Will be a lot easier tomorrow if the Pack wins. Enjoy the game.

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greengold's picture

September 26, 2019 at 11:57 am

This will be the coming out party for our Offense everyone has been waiting for. Aaron Rodgers is going to wind up having a very successful night, along with the rest of our O.

Our defense will be ripe for creating more TOs to give the ball back to Rodgers & Co. Our STs will also have a solid game v. PHI.

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