We've spent the week discussing the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay's upcoming opponent, diving into subjects like Mark Sanchez's ability to run Chip Kelly's offense and what to make of LeSean McCoy's struggles. Today, we address a more basic question: why the Packers will defeat Philadelphia.
To answer that question, we invited Bleeding Green Nation's Brandon Lee Gowton back to give his analysis.
I'll start with Eagles defense because Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the elephant in the room. The guy has simply been on fire this season: 25 touchdown, three interceptions, 2,407 yards, league-leading 8.7 yards per attempt, and a passer rating of 120.1. Rodgers also ranks 10th among NFL quarterbacks with 112 rushing yards.
Philadelphia's pass defense ranks ninth best on Football Outsiders but a large part of that is due to their impressive pass rush. If the Eagles can't generate pressure, the combination of Rodgers and the Packers wide receivers will majorly test Philadelphia's up-and-down secondary. The Eagles defense has looked strong in recent weeks but has been vulnerable to giving up big plays at inopportune moments.
Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy will test an Eagles run defense that has been strong this season but is now missing starting inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans. The combination of Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho will be tasked with stuffing the run.
Considering the encouraging play from Philadelphia's defense, it might be the offense that's the biggest concern for the Eagles. The Birds totally failed to get the run game going against the Carolina in Week 10. The team finished with 23 total rushing attempts for 1.6 average yards per carry. The Panthers effectively sold out against the run and challenged Mark Sanchez to beat them through the air, which is exactly what he did.
But while Sanchez's performance was encouraging, the Eagles are at their best when the run game is going. Running the ball effectively will be key to sustaining drives, something Philadelphia's offense too often failed to do against Carolina: seven of their 13 offensive drives failed to gain 10 yards or more. A successful run game will also keep Rodgers off the field. Green Bay only ranks 20th in DVOA against the run but the Panthers ranked even worse last week at 25th overall. The current confidence level in the Eagles run game is "I'll see it when I believe it."
Of course, this game will be exceptionally tough for the Eagles because it's taking place in Green Bay. Home field advantage is a very real element at Lambeau and both of the Eagles two losses have come during road games.