Coming off of one of their most impressive wins of the season, the Packers host Eagles in a game with big-time playoff implications. Having only beaten one team with a record over .500 this season, we can be sure that Mike McCarthy and the Packers are eager to strengthen their resume at home versus one of the NFC’s most talented teams on paper.
The notable absence in Sunday’s NFC showdown is Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who shredded the Green Bay defense at Lambeau last November. Instead of Foles, the Packers get Mark Sanchez, who has been surprisingly effective under Chip Kelly in two games as starter. The Packers’ limited exposure to Sanchez is a shutout win in the Meadowlands during their 2010 Super Bowl season, which featured a considerably different set of Packers defensive personnel.
The spotlight will be cast on whichever cornerback is lined up across from slot receiver Jordan Matthews. Expect Casey Hayward to assume this role, as starting cornerbacks Sam Shields and Tramon Williams handle perimeter threats Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. With Sanchez more than comfortable throwing downfield, the Packers will also need stellar play from safeties Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
While Philadelphia has been impressive on defense this season, it’s difficult to imagine any team shutting down Aaron Rodgers and the Packer offense right now. Rodgers is playing as well as any quarterback in the league at present, thanks in part to the protection he’s received from his offensive line. However, it’s important for McCarthy and the Packers to maintain a balanced attack with Eddie Lacy in order to keep the Eagles honest.
The Packers and Eagles are very comparable teams right now but two factors give Green Bay the edge in this game. First, the Packers are playing at home, where they haven’t lost this season or scored less than 31 points in each of those wins. Second, the Packers have Aaron Rodgers, which is better than virtually any quarterback plugged into Chip Kelly’s offense.