NFL Nation: Packers-Eagles quick take 2011

Quick take: Packers at Eagles

January, 2, 2011
Three things to know about next Sunday's Green Bay Packers-Philadelphia Eagles wild-card game:

1. The Green Bay Packers are responsible for the Michael Vick Phenomenon, circa 2010. It was the Packers, specifically linebacker Clay Matthews, who knocked out Philadelphia Eagles starter Kevin Kolb in a Week 1 game at Lincoln Financial Field. Vick rushed for 103 yards and rallied the Eagles from a 27-10 fourth-quarter deficit. Matthews stopped him on a fourth-down rushing attempt to seal a 27-20 victory, but Vick's performance while Kolb recovered from his concussion ultimately won him the Eagles' starting job. "We're going to have our hands full," Matthews said. "We know what kind of a caliber player he is. We're going to have to shut him down to have a chance."

2. Before winning in Week 1, the Packers had lost nine consecutive games in Philadelphia. (And we won't even bring up 4th-and-26.) But the only thing that matters is what this Packers team has done this season. And in 2010, the Packers were 3-5 on the road. But two of those victories came against playoff teams -- the Eagles and New York Jets -- and overall the Packers are 21-19 on the road since coach Mike McCarthy took over in 2006. This is a team that won't be unsettled by playing in a relatively unfamiliar environment.

3. Many observers will use "attacking" and "multiple" as adjectives to describe the Eagles' defense. But the same thing can be said about the Packers. In Sunday's 10-3 victory over the Chicago Bears, the Packers blitzed a defensive back on 19 plays, including 16 in the second half. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers is every bit as unpredictable as Eagles coordinator Sean McDermott, who has inherited and expanded the scheme created by the late Jim Johnson.

Quick Take: Packers at Eagles

January, 2, 2011
Three things to know about next Sunday’s Packers-Eagles wild-card game:

1. Can the Philadelphia Eagles recover from two consecutive losses to end the season? I don't think a season-ending loss to the Cowboys on Sunday will have a major impact because the Eagles left most of their stars on the sideline. In fact, it was pretty impressive that a bunch of backups nearly handed the full-strength Cowboys a loss. But the loss to Minnesota last Tuesday is still baffling. The Eagles actually had something to play for in that game, and they didn't show up. If Michael Vick continues to recover from his quadriceps injury and DeSean Jackson's foot heals, the Eagles should regain their devastating speed. Resting the starters against the Cowboys was the right move. Now, the Eagles will face one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Aaron Rodgers. The Chicago Bears held the Packers down for much of Sunday's game, but Rodgers was able to connect with Greg Jennings on a gorgeous throw to set up the winning touchdown.

2. Michael Vick began his remarkable season against this team. When Kevin Kolb left the Eagles' season-opener against the Packers with a concussion, Vick was sensational in relief. He threw for 175 yards and a touchdown to go along with 103 rushing yards. He famously said after the game that he thought the Eagles would've won had he been on the field the entire time. Andy Reid ended up making Vick the starter, and the rest is history. But this week, the sixth-seeded Packers will be game-planning for Vick. Cornerback Charles Woodson may be headed to the Pro Bowl, but I believe that Tramon Williams has had the better season. The Packers' defensive backs will try to be physical with Jackson and Jeremy Maclin at the line of scrimmage. The Packers held Jay Cutler and the Bears to a field goal Sunday in bailing out what is normally a prolific offense. Why did the Bears play their starters when nothing was on the line? It's probably because they desperately wanted to keep a dangerous team such as the Packers out of the playoffs. I think the Eagles would've preferred playing the Giants a third time to playing the Packers again.

3. The Eagles' secondary is about to encounter perhaps the best group of receivers in the league. The Packers' receivers do a tremendous job of running after the catch, as the Giants learned last week. If Rodgers gets in a groove early, the Eagles could be in trouble. The Eagles have given up 31 passing touchdowns this season, which ranks them right behind the Cowboys in terms of worst in the NFC. Rodgers thrives on finding his receivers on crossing routes and watching them add 20 or 30 yards to the play. The Eagles' defensive backs must do a much better job tackling against this group. The Eagles have the offensive firepower to keep up in a shootout, but Reid doesn't want it to come to that. Philadelphia's biggest flaw is its defense, and the Packers have the weapons to expose it. Fortunately for the Eagles, the Packers' offensive tackles have struggled at times. This is the type game when defensive end Trent Cole's ability to get leverage will help in a big way. And the Eagles must figure out a way to keep defensive end Juqua Parker from playing too many snaps. D-end Darryl Tapp made some nice plays against the Cowboys on Sunday and the Eagles need him to continue his strong play. But I can't imagine a better first-round matchup than this. If you can think of the last No. 6 seed that looked this scary, let me know.



Thursday, 11/20
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