Opening week is upon us! The Vikings fell to the Saints in a hard-fought battle on Thursday, and we are officially in the midst of football season. Here are some of the factors that will determine the results of the Packers-Eagles battle on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
GB Defense vs. PHI Offense: Secondary Depth
This issue should come as no surprise to anyone who watched the Packers last season. Three Eagles receivers can pose a challenge: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Avant. Jackson and Maclin are as fast as they come and Avant is a solid possession receiver. Add in tight end Brent Celek and you have a team that can spread the field effectively against a thin group of defensive backs. I expect Woodson to cover the slot receiver (often Maclin) in three-wide sets, with Tramon Williams manned up on Jackson and the nickel back on Avant. If the secondary can handle these formations, the Packers will be in good shape. It should also be interesting to see rookie safety Morgan Burnett thrown into the fire early against a talented group of receivers.
GB Offense vs. PHI Defense: Pass Rush
This group may give the Packers' offensive line an early test. Rookie Brandon Graham (one of the players I had hoped would fall to the Packers in the draft) looks like a force at defensive end. Tackles Mike Patterson and Broderick Bunkley have started next to each other for 46 of the 48 games over the last three years, and are effective at getting through the interior of the line. Plus, Eagles teams have a history of creative blitz packages since the late Jim Johnson was the coordinator, so it should be interesting to see what Sean McDermott dials up. This will be a strong test to see if the O-line is improved and if Aaron Rodgers has learned to get the ball out a little quicker without sacrificing accuracy or good decision-making.
Player to watch: Leonard Weaver, FB
I suggest Weaver not necessarily because I think he'll be a game-changer, but because he'll be fun to watch. Weaver is a classic fullback in the Mike Alstott mold - a bruising lead blocker who's also effective as a runner between the tackles. I will be interested to see the breakdown of carries between starting tailback LeSean McCoy and Weaver, as well as which of the two is more effective in his opportunities.
What better way to avoid listening to Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, and Erin Andrews on College Gameday than write up a Packers preview? Now it's time to flip ESPN back on to watch the Wisconsin Badgers play a home game without me in the student section for the first time since 2004. Slaughter San Jose State, and On Wisconsin!
- As a side note, if there are any APC readers out there around the Columbus, OH area, I encourage you to join me and the rest of the Buckeye Packer Backers at the On Tap Pub for the game tomorrow. Go Pack Go!