Packers vs. Eagles: 5 Key Matchups
Green Bay Packers: 5 Key Match-Ups For Week 10
The Green Bay Packers have a tough test this weekend, as the Philadelphia Eagles invade Lambeau Field for a Week 10 matchup against two teams with backup quarterbacks. The Packers will have Seneca Wallace starting, as starter Aaron Rodgers will be out an expected four to six weeks with a broken collarbone. The Eagles will have Nick Foles under center, who is coming off an amazing performance where he threw for a record tying seven touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders.
If the Packers are going to win this game, they must hope the battle of backups doesn’t resemble Week 9. The Packers went up against Chicago Bears backup Josh McCown and allowed him to sit in the pocket and pick the defense apart, while Wallace ran for his life and looked extremely uncomfortable. With a week of preparation, I expect different results.
A matchup that many people were circling for this game when the schedule was announced was the Rodgers vs. Mike Vick matchup. They have an explosive quarterback in Vick, who could run and pass with the best of them against Rodgers, who is known as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL for the past few seasons. However, both are injured and you can expect both of them to be on the sidelines in street clothes holding a clipboard and encouraging their respective teams.
Although we won’t see a Rodgers vs. Vick matchup, the game must go on. Here are five matchps that you should watch for when the Packers line up against the Eagles on Sunday afternoon.
5. Seneca Wallace Vs. Eagles' Secondary
The first matchup to watch on Sunday will be an easy one to look at. It is the battle between Seneca Wallace and the Eagles' secondary.
Wallace is coming off a performance where he struggled dearly. He was thrown into the game (with minimal snaps with the No. 1 offense) in the first quarter when Rodgers left, and it showed that he was rusty and not game ready.
The Bears' defense stacked the box against the Packers and tried to stop rookie running back Eddie Lacy, and they did a decent job slowing him down late. The stacked box forced Wallace to try and beat the Bears, and he showed that he could not.
Wallace finished the game 11/19 for 114 yards and an interception. He showed very limited arm strength and he did not look good escaping the pocket. He must be better this week against an Eagles team that has struggled in their secondary this season.
The Eagles are dead last in the league against the pass and have allowed an average of 307.6 yards per game in the air to opposing defenses. They also struggle getting to the passer, so Wallace may have more time in the pocket and may be able to make a more plays.
Regardless of how the Eagles have played so far this season, Wallace must be better. I expect him to have a much better week now that he will have five days to prepare with the first team and have the offense altered around his abilities. Look for an interesting matchup on Sunday and see if Wallace can redeem himself after a putrid performance on Monday night.
4. Eddie Lacy Vs. DeMeco Ryans
Another matchup to look for on the offensive side of the ball for the Packers is the battle that will take place in the middle of the field between rookie Eddie Lacy and veteran middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans.
Lacy has been an absolute stud for the Packers this season, and has been one of the league's best over the past five weeks. I have had nothing but good things to say about the rookie, and with Rodgers on the sidelines, he can expect his carries to increase. He has gotten over 20 a game during the past few weeks, but he may be looking at a game with 30 carries now that the Packers' passing attack will be slowed.
Last week against a Bears defense that has been stout against the run, Lacy ran for 150 yards and a touchdown. He had 22 carries on the night and he’s admitted that his body has been sore over the past few weeks. Unfortunately for Lacy, he can expect it to continue to get sorer, because he will have to carry a big load for the Packers' offense while Rodgers is injured.
If Lacy is going to continue his tear, he will have to try and avoid an eight or nine man box on almost every play, and he will have to try and elude Ryans in the middle.
This season, Ryans has 60 total tackles and has been a linchpin on the Eagles' defense when defending against the run. As a total defense, the Eagles have allowed an average of 111 yards a game on the ground this season, but have faced teams that have been able to stretch the field. They haven’t had many chances to load the box against their opponents, but they will get the opportunity this week.
Expect a battle in the trenches between Lacy and Ryans this week as the Packers try to maintain their strong run game and the Eagles try to get the ball out of Lacy’s hands.
3. AJ Hawk Vs. LeSean McCoy
The next matchup will go on the defensive side of the ball for the Packers, and will pair up linebacker AJ Hawk and Eagles' running back LeSean “Shady” McCoy.
Hawk has been solid for the Packers all season long, and the Packers as a whole have done a great job against the run this season. Last week, the Bears controlled the clock and wore the Packers out as they controlled the game and surprisingly ran over the defense. Bears running back Matt Forte finished with 125 yards and a touchdown. However, I believe the defense will rebound, and I expect Hawk to have the linebackers ready to get after McCoy and make him work for any yardage.
So far this season, McCoy has been his old self, for the most part. McCoy will always be a crafty back that makes cuts like no one else can and gets out of any tackle like a greased pig escaping a human. However, over the last three weeks, McCoy has been held under 60 yards in each game and has really had a rough time trying to get things going. What’s even more shocking is that over his last four games, McCoy has not had a rushing touchdown. It’s unchartered waters for McCoy, who usually gets into the end zone at least once a game, but regardless, he is still explosive and can easily win a game on a few big carries.
The Packers will have to improve their run defense from a week ago, and with a guy like McCoy coming into town, expect a much more intense and focused defense, especially Hawk.
2. Clay Matthews Vs. Lane Johnson
One of the main reasons for the Packers' lack of defensive production last week against the Bears was the limited amount of pressure they were able to get on the quarterback. Luckily, the defense may be getting Clay Matthews back after a four game absence due to a thumb injury. It will be a huge boost for the Packers and will certainly help them try to make Nick Foles uncomfortable in the pocket.
Matthews is practicing all week and expects to be ready to play with a club on his hand. He won’t be at 100 percent, but the fact that he is on the field will still get the Eagles' attention, especially right tackle Lane Johnson.
Johnson, the Eagles' fourth overall pick in this year's draft, is a physical kid with great size. He is listed at 6-foot-6, 303lbs, and has exceptional quickness for a guy that is built like a mac truck. However, Johnson hasn’t seen a guy like Matthews this season and the Eagles have troubles against teams that get pressure on the quarterback.
If Matthews is a full go on Sunday, expect a great battle between a talented rookie tackle and an animal linebacker who will be licking his chops to finally get back into game action. It will certainly be a fantastic matchup to watch.
1. Sam Shields Vs. DeSean Jackson
The No. 1 matchup of this week’s battle between the Packers and Eagles is the battle on the outside between Packers cornerback Sam Shields and Eagles pro-bowl speedster DeSean Jackson.
Let’s start with Jackson. He has been an absolute beast this season, and really has hit huge strides with Nick Foles. It seems that Foles and Jackson are on the same page, and he has excelled with Foles under center, especially last week. While Foles was tearing up the Raiders for seven touchdowns, Jackson was on his A game yet again. He finished with five catches for 150 yards and a touchdown. This season, he is on pace for a record season with the Eagles and currently has 823 yards to go along with six touchdowns. He is proving to everyone that he is still elite and can be explosive with any quarterback.
Jackson uses his speed to get by many of the corners he faces but this week; he will go up against a guy in Shields, who is just as fast, if not faster, than Jackson. Shields has been phenomenal for the Packers this season, and has done a great job against the opponents' best receivers. Last week, he struggled against Brandon Marshall’s size, but showed that he has great recovery speed and had a few good pass deflections.
One thing Shields must improve on, however, is tackling. He missed a few open field tackles last week, and if he misses Jackson, it will definitely be a touchdown for the Eagles. Expect Shields to play physical with Jackson and stay with him stride for stride the entire game.
This matchup between two elite players will be as exciting a matchup as you’ll see on Sunday afternoon. Both the Packers and Eagles need this game to stay within reach of their respective divisions. It will certainly be a fun, intriguing game to watch at Lambeau.