Short week for a Thursday night game. The Packers are in better shape from a health perspective and the last Thursday night game went pretty well. Let’s dive into what to watch for.
Another Test For the Run Defense
The Eagles don’t have a bellcow back, but they have three very capable (and different) runners in Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, and Darren Sproles (all three of the have a longer run this year than anyone on the Packers… as does Carson Wentz). Combine that with an offensive line that is ranked #2 in the league by PFF and some lingering injuries to the defensive interior, and you have a tough matchup. Mike Pettine may need to do some scheme adjustments to contain the run game, which could open things up for Carson Wentz.
The Ertz Effect
If the run game gets moving, it can open up the pass game for the Eagles. Carson Wentz is top shelf talent and, with injuries to Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson, he’s made Zach Ertz the team’s leading receiver with 190 yards on 17 catches. Ertz’s 30 targets are 9 more than anyone on the Packers. He is their focal point and the Packers don’t exactly have a lot of linebackers cut out to cover tight ends. More work for Mike Pettine.
The Eagles lost starting defensive tackle Malik Jackson to season ending injury in week 1. His backup, Timmy Jernigan will miss this game. The Packers don’t have anyone averaging over 3.8 yards per carry, but maybe, with Elgton Jenkins stepping in against an injury-plagued front, that will change this week.
It feels like Rodgers is going to be a guy to watch every week, and why wouldn’t he be? So far, he’s been showing incremental improvement each game, but hasn’t hit his typical standard yet. Let’s not forget that Rodgers is coming off back to back years with severe injuries. Last year it was his plant leg, the year before it was his throwing shoulder – basically the two worst areas for a QB to have major injuries. In the first two weeks, they faced defenses that could be considered the best in the league. Week three was another top 10 defense in the rain. Throw in the obvious growing pains associated with a new offensive system that got zero reps in the preseason, and we shouldn’t be surprised that we aren’t seeing 50 points a game in September.
This week, things could start to turn. The weather report calls for a brisk dry evening on Thursday and the Eagles are missing starting cornerback Ronald Darby due to injury. They promoted Craig James from the practice squad to join Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, and Avonte Maddox on the cornerback depth chart. That’s it. That’s all their cornerbacks. If you’re looking for a week for Rodgers and the passing game to break out, this is it.
- Aaron Rodgers gets 300 yards
- Aaron Jones breaks off his longest run of the year
- Smith and Smith combine for fewer than 2 sacks
- Davante Adams has his best game of the year
- The Eagles rush for over 4 yards per carry
- Blake Martinez has a season high for tackles
- Carson Wentz gets 0 passing TDs
- Jaire Alexander has another statement play because he’s Jaire Alexander
Packers 31, Eagles 16