NFL Week 12: Previewing the Packers/Eagles Match-up

November 28, 2016 • Jon Lowe • Front Page, Green Bay Packers, NFC, NFC East, NFC North, Philadelphia Eagles, Predictions, Preview

A lot can be said about the Packers right now.

At the same time, as things stand, they are in 14th place in the NFC, and that alone should say enough for a supposedly contending team. Winning doesn’t last forever, as even the Patriots will find a downfall at some point within the next 10 years. The Lombardi era was less than a decade, and although it gave the Packers five championships in that time, it ultimately led to about 20 years of losing.

The good news, Green Bay still has Aaron Rodgers, and hopefully he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The bad news, however, is that with this kind of a disappointing season, changes are on the horizon.

I’m not going to be talking too much about what changes should or should not happen down the road heading into the off-season barring a miraculous stretch, I’m going to talk about the Monday Night Football game this week in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia has had a better season than many expected, going 5-5 (although still last in the NFC East) with the defense as well as rookie quarterback Carson Wentz exceeding expectations. A win by the Eagles on Monday night will probably end the Packers’ season, and it is vital that the Green Bay defense finds a way to stop the Eagles enough so Aaron Rodgers can work his magic.

To start off with an injury report, the Eagles are missing some pieces. Right tackle Lane Johnson is in the middle of his 10-game suspension, and the top two running backs for the Eagles — Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews — are both banged up and listed as questionable for Monday.

On defense, nickel corner Leodis McKelvin, defensive end Connor Barwin and little-used safety Terrence Brooks are all questionable too. Cornerback Ron Brooks is on injured reserve, and he is the only player of note on their IR. As far as Packers’ injuries are concerned, we already know way too many people are on IR. The offensive line and middle linebackers are the new victims of the injury bug, with center J.C. Tretter out, inside linebacker Jake Ryan and guard T.J. Lang likely out, and inside linebacker Blake Martinez and offensive lineman Don Barclay are both questionable. Cornerback Demetri Goodson is out, and cornerback Damarious Randall is finally only questionable, although he probably won’t play either.

As far as the defense is concerned, Joe Thomas is the only natural ILB on the roster who remains completely healthy, so who will start next to him is a big question. Ryan and Martinez are the team’s leading tacklers, and without them it can cause problems against the Eagles. However, the injuries to the Eagles’ running game might be able to help neutralize it and allow the Packers to still find ways to stop the run effectively.

If I were Doug Pederson, though, I wouldn’t even bother running the ball, and never stop throwing it until the Packers’ corners learn how to stop the deep ball, and pretty much everything else. This offense is containable though, even with this banged up defense, since it is only a rookie QB and a banged up backfield. This is the Packers’ last chance to get the defense back on track.

When it comes to the offense, the Eagles’ cornerback situation is similar to the Packers, although I can’t imagine them being in a worse situation. Without Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll is the only remaining member of their top three corners, which can cause problems with the Packers trio of Nelson, Cobb and Adams. The Eagles still have a good defense, solid players and an above average pass rush, but they’ve overachieved so far this season and Aaron Rodgers should be able to carve up this defense provided the line holds together. The Packers also will activate new running back Christine Michael who was claimed from Seattle, and he has had a nice season with 469 yards and six touchdowns, so he should be helpful to some extent.

All in all, this is the last chance the Packers really have to get back on track if they want to keep pace in the NFC North. A loss in Philadelphia means they are three games back of the Lions and two back from the Vikings, and passing both in five weeks is almost impossible. I never thought I would be saying anything like that this season, but I did, and I still believe that the Packers can find a way to win a game. I’m going with Green Bay here with the season on the line. Final score: Green Bay 28, Philadelphia 25.

Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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