THURS. NITE NFL SPECIAL: EAGLES vs. PACKERS – WEEK 4 PREVIEW!
EAGLES FLY TO LAMBEAU FIELD vs. SHOCKING IMPROVED PACKERS DEFENSE!
EAGLES AT GREEN BAY (-4) —– TOTAL (46)
There are just two teams not to cover a spread yet (0-3 ATS). The Eagles, along with the tanking Dolphins, are one of the two. The Eagles are (1-2) and in need very badly of a win here but they will have to improve in almost all phases of the game. I watch a ton of tape and my first “close looks” are “How is an OL playing”? If it’s playing poorly, you don’t really want to look super fast to bet on that given team. Is this Eagles team not a good team? Look folks the tape just doesn’t lie. The Eagles OL has been just awful these first 3 weeks. I mean they are getting no push at all….and for most part getting pushed backwards. To me this is the biggest fix this Eagles team must improve and immediately. The Eagles poor OL play has resulted in this: (avg 4.2 yards total on first AND second downs combined). That is 30th overall in league and if your QB is always in 3rd and long you likely aren’t going to win more games then you lose. Now we go to another group that gets F- so far thru 3 games, the wide rec/TE’s who have dropped 11 passes (most right in their hands) and 7 last week. A dropped pass vs. Falcons for what would’ve been an easy TD to take the lead very late cost them one game. You can easily make claim the 7 last week were a combined “costly” as they easily could’ve won that game too. So are the Eagles a bad (1-2) or just a sloppy (1-2). I can tell you this, sloppy is fixable, bad isn’t. When you drop (19.4%) of passes in one game, you will rarely ever win that game. I doubt the Eagles drop that amount again this week.
Let’s next look at another area of concern for the Eagles and it’s the Defense, and for the most part it’s fair to say the DL and Secondary have both simply sucked badly these first 3 games. First, like the OL, the Birds DL has played terribly, getting very little hard push or pass rush on opposing QB’s. They have only 2 Sacks (2nd worst in NFL). They have allowed 24 points or more in all 3 games. The Defense has ZERO fumble recoveries. This Philly Secondary has allowed 320 Passing yards 6 of it’s last 10 games. They are 4th worst this season is Pass Yards allowed (881). The Defense is allowing a way too high (5.9) yards per play. Really the only player to be making some big time plays has been QB Wentz, as his Houdini escapes from a massive pass rush has turned into some of the biggest plays of the Eagles Offense this year. But expecting to win off “broken plays” turned into gold is not the way to win. The Eagles so far just haven’t gotten a run game going with any consistency and that’s wreaked havoc on the play calling as it’s just always third and long. They must first get better OL play, which will get them better rush attack to get them into more manageable 3rd down play calls.
The Eagles other big problem tonight is they face a now shockingly dynamic Packer Defense. You read that right and the word Dynamic so far does NOT apply to the Packers Offense. In fact the Packers Offense has pretty much been average at best, and not the reason for any of the 3 wins so far. Not many will talk badly about any undefeated (3-0) team…but the Packers Offense, (still learning from a new HC/Playcaller) has simply not been good at all. This Packers Offense is #28 in the NFL avg. only 268 total yards per game. And yes Aaron Rodgers is the QB still. I hate to criticize any new HC or new Playcaller after 3 weeks as if you make sweeping changes to any Offense, it’s gonna take time, but it’s even harder if it’s an Older QB you are asking a ton of changes to occur. Rodgers is avg. a very poor (7.0) yards per pass attempt. He is avg. under 200 yard (197) passing per game. His QBR is (47.6) which ranks him in lower half of all QB’s. The Packers Offense is avg. only (4.81) yards per play (that’s 28th overall). Rodgers is averaging only 31.0 passes per game so far this season, a career low. The Packers run game to me has been too sporadic, and needs to improve to help Rodgers get the Pass attack flying again. OK so I told you all bad so far, but one good tidbit for GB going forward. In week 1, GB avg. (3.73) ypp. In week 2 they upped it to (4.83) ypp. Last week they rose it up to a more respectable (6.00) ypp. So there clearly has been some meshing finally with the new HC LaFleur ways of calling plays.
Let’s now look at the only Unit on both teams excelling so far, the Packers Defense. The main reason GB is (3-0) is the Defense has been lights out. They are 2nd in NFL allowing only 12 points a game. They are 3rd in Sacks (12). They have 4 fumble recoveries already. This Unit is good in all 3 areas, with the Secondary now becoming one of the best overall in the NFL. On tape I rarely have seen a bad coverage or a missed tackle. They are moving to the ball in packs (no pun intended) and they just don’t allow many big plays. Right now you have to grind and grind a drive to score against them. The struggling Eagles Offense will surely have their hands full unless they really improve in so many different areas. It will be interesting to see how the Packers secondary does when Wentz scrambles as that’s the only success the Eagles Offense has had. If the Packers D can control Wentz then we must put this Defense as “totally legit” and one to be reckoned with.
The real question is will A-Rod and Company finally show up in a big way or stay just average. I can’t fathom HC Lafleur not opening the pass game playbook more and let Rodgers test a very poor Eagles secondary all game long. I’d expect to see more screens from Rodgers (these are working well), but I see more of 42 passes tonight and more chances for Rodgers to get into a strong rhythm, something I’ve only seen on a few drives thus far this year.
The good news for Eagles fans is the HC (Pederson) is 4-0 on Thursday nights, telling us he can get his troops ready to not just play, but win on a short week. Green Bay though has owned the Eagles of late, going 5-1 ATS the last 6 meetings with the birds. Packers QB Rodgers loves the bright lights and is 7-1 ATS playing on Thursday night games.
Lots of serious questions will be answered tonight. For both teams as we will see if weeks 1-3 was just a fluke or a sign of things to come the rest of the season.
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