(No, really, that’s it. That’s what I have to say about this.)
Prediction: Packers 30, Eagles 18
I’m gonna be a little more wordy than my clever, white-haired friend, Les.
Let’s start with the good news. The Eagles might be getting tight end Zach Ertz back this week. If he plays, it will be the first time Carson Wentz has had both Ertz and Dallas Goedert at his pass-catching disposal since Week 3.
Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland also appears to have finally wised up and is expected to bench right tackle Matt Pryor, who gave up two of the six sacks of Wentz last week, and replace him with promising rookie Jack Driscoll. That’s good news for Wentz, as well as his wife and daughter.
Sadly, that’s probably not nearly enough good news to propel the Eagles to their second straight win over the Packers at Lambeau in as many years. But who knows?
The Eagles beat the Packers last year by running the ball effectively and not turning it over and being lucky enough to have Packers wide receiver Davante Adams miss most of the second half because of an injury after catching 10 passes for 180 yards. If Adams didn’t get hurt, Rodgers probably would’ve ended up throwing for 822 yards rather than 422.
The Eagles’ pass defense is much better this year than it was last year. They’ve given up the third-fewest touchdown passes in the league. They’ve held opponents to 175 passing yards in the last seven games.
Even though he got worked over pretty good Monday night by DK Metcalf, Darius Slay will fare much better Sunday against Adams, I think.
But Rodgers will find somebody else open. He always does. The Eagles are tied for second in the league in sacks, but Rodgers gets the ball out thisquick in Matt LaFleur’s rhythm passing offense. He has been sacked just 11 times and has been under pressure on just 22% of his dropbacks.
The Packers’ defense isn’t all that good. They can be run on, and they can be thrown on. But will Ertz’s return be enough to snap Wentz out of his season-long, 15-interception funk?
Prediction: Packers 27, Eagles 16
Since Les stole my answer, I’ll give a bit more insight.
Outside of the Kansas City Chiefs’ well-oiled machine, the Packers offense is probably the best in the league. Rodgers has been dominant, and he has an elite receiving target in Adams capable of winning one-on-one matchups. LaFleur’s offensive scheme has similarities with Sean McVay’s and Kyle Shanahan’s, which should worry anyone reading this and pulling for an Eagles win instead of a higher draft pick. The Eagles haven’t fared well against offenses that exploit man coverage with rub routes and convincing play-action. The Rams scored 37 points against them, and the 49ers managed 20 with terrible quarterback play.
For that reason, a blowout is within the realm of possibility, but the Eagles defense has been playing quite well lately. If not for the stagnant offense, there’s a real case to be made that this would be a respected group around the league because of its talented front and ability to protect a lead.
Offensively, it’s important to point out this Packers defense is average. That might sound like promising news for those pulling for the Birds, but average is much better than the previous two passing defenses Wentz has struggled against. This could be the week Wentz finally snaps out of it, especially with Ertz’s possible return, but predicting if and when Wentz will start looking more like his old self is too dicey for my taste.
I don’t expect this game to be close. Rodgers has always been very good at Lambeau, and he’s been even better overall this season. The Eagles could have a chance if they completely overhaul their offensive approach and run the ball constantly and ask Wentz to do far less than they have for most of the season, but I don’t see any other way forward.
Prediction: Packers 27, Eagles 13
I keep thinking there will come a time this season when the Eagles will play a good game against a good team and win. They’ve provided little reason to believe such a thing, but the NFL can be an odd bird. How else can you explain the Raiders beating the Chiefs in their first meeting, playing them down to the wire in their second, and then coming out the following week and losing by 37 points to the hapless Falcons?
The Eagles’ best shot of upsetting the Packers is if the defense can pressure Rodgers enough so that he has just a ho-hum game. I have to believe Jim Schwartz spent a lot of time watching how Todd Bowles and the Bucs forced the quarterback into completing only 45% of his throws and into tossing two interceptions in Week 6. They won by mixing up their rush and by giving Rodgers a variety of looks and pressures. He was sacked four times. He hasn’t been sacked more than once in Green Bay’s 10 other games.
Getting to Rodgers, needless to say, is easier said than done. He can dissect any coverage pre-snap. He can extend plays as well as any quarterback, even at age 37. And he can make any throw necessary. The Eagles have the horses up front, but they can’t be without defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who is nursing a neck injury.
The Eagles have to score points, of course, and that’s been a struggle all season. I have to think Doug Pederson has little choice but to further simplify the offense, run the dang ball with Miles Sanders and give Wentz easier reads with movement out of the pocket. It sounds simple, and yet he’s been resistant. Ultimately, I just don’t think the Eagles can play a solid enough 60 minutes to keep pace with Rodgers and company. The have a little juju after last year’s win in Lambeau, but that game seems so long ago. That offensive line was healthy and a well-oiled machine. This team is limping into December.