The 4-7 Green Bay Packers head east to take on the 9-1 Philadelphia Eagles. These two teams have had drastically different seasons up to this point. The Eagles have been a pleasant surprise with their ability to win games with a complementary style of football. On the other hand, the Packers come into this week with their season hanging by a thread. They likely need to win out to have any chance at one of the three wild card spots.
It may feel the odds are stacked against the Green and Gold, but the Eagles have shown signs of vulnerability with a loss against the Washington Commanders and narrowly escaping Jeff Saturday’s Indianapolis Colts. The Packers would catch people’s attention if they beat the Eagles on the road. But to do that, they have to find a way to limit Philadelphia’s strengths.
Here are three things the Eagles do well.
Run the Ball
We all know just how big of an impact the addition of A.J. Brown has made on the Eagles’ passing game. But despite their success through the air, they remain a run-first team.
So far this season, they have 142.5 yards per game on the ground, putting them among the best in the NFL. While they only average 4.3 yards per carry, they stay committed to the running game and use it to grind down opposing defenses. The variety they can throw at a team with all of their different runners makes Philadelphia’s offense unique.
The Eagles have a deep ground game with running backs Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, and Boston Scott. When you add Hurts’ mobility to this mix, you have a rushing attack that can throw multiple fresh runners at opposing defenses. The Packers will need to make Philadelphia’s offense one-dimensional and take away the run if they want a chance at victory.
Shut Down Receivers
This offseason, the Eagles made some key additions to the secondary by adding safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson from the New Orleans Saints and picking up corner James Bradberry in free agency. These two additions, along with Darius Slay returning to form, have made the Eagles’ secondary one of the best in the NFL.
So far this season, Slay is allowing a passer rating of just 51 when targeted this season. Across from him, Bradberry is allowing an even lower passer rating of 43.7. Together they have shut down a majority of the wideouts that they have faced. This will be a major test for Allen Lazard and the emerging Christian Watson. Their challenge on the outside will be robust regardless of if it’s Slay or Braberry across from them.
Philadelphia’s pass defense is the league’s second-best in terms of yards allowed, giving up an average of 178.4 per game. With Rodgers looking off of the mark in his last action and dealing with a broken thumb, his ability to make throws in contested windows will be tested this week.
Rush the Passer
Part of what makes the Eagles’ secondary so good is the fact that they are required to cover for less time due to their dominant pass rush. Philadelphia’s pass rush this season is third in terms of sacks with 33, and they look to add even more against a Packers offensive line that has been suspect at times.
Brandon Graham and Haason Reddick on the edges have combined for 12 sacks this season, and the Eagles’ interiors with Javon Hargraves and Fletcher Cox have also caused trouble for guards and centers all season. And if that wasn’t enough, the Eagles also recently added two former NFC North defensive tackles. Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh will be looking to make their impact felt in the limited snaps that they see.
The Packers will need to give Rodgers time in the pocket and allow him to dissect the secondary if they want to have a chance this week.