3 key matchups for Green Bay Packers v. Eagles

Nov 14, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) and wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) in a game against the Washington Commanders at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 14, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) and wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) in a game against the Washington Commanders at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

At 4-7 and with elimination in the rearview mirror, the Green Bay Packers are tasked with trying to keep playoff hopes alive against the Philadelphia Eagles and the best record in the NFL.

It really is difficult to find any weak points on this Eagles roster. As Matt LaFleur said, Jalen Hurts is playing at an MVP level. This offense is loaded with weapons and has a terrific offensive line. On the other side of the ball, Philly has a fierce defensive front and a turnover-heavy secondary. This game is very much going to be a huge challenge for the Packers.

If Green Bay is going to have any hopes of pulling off the upset, it begins by winning these three key matchups.

Green Bay Packers OL vs. Eagles defensive front

Now fully healthy, the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line has been playing much better as of late. However, they are faced with a massive challenge against this Eagles’ defensive front. Philadelphia enters the game ranked second in run defense by DVOA — although they haven’t been as good without Jordan Davis — while generating the third most sacks and the seventh most pressures.

The Packers played a stout defensive front a week ago against Tennessee, and running the ball was a chore. Green Bay tried to establish it early on but found little luck. They eventually began utilizing more shotgun formations to spread the Titans’ defense out and found some success running the ball, but nothing they could lean on heavily.

Unfortunately, this matchup with the Eagles gives off similar vibes. Establishing the run for the Packers is a must because they simply aren’t good enough — as we saw against the Titans — to rely heavily on the passing game to carry them. Also, when the Packers feel the need to become shotgun-heavy, they drift further away from many core Matt LaFleur concepts and closer to the 2018 version of this offense–which just isn’t a good thing.

The Eagles do a great job of getting after the quarterback by rushing only four, which means more defenders in coverage and allows this Philadelphia secondary to play much more aggressively–a reason why they are the best at takeaways this season.

Green Bay Packers’ edge rushers vs. Jalen Hurts

Whether by design or coming completely off script, Jalen Hurts very much has the ability to burn this Packers’ defense with his legs. So far this season, he has 438 rushing yards and four games with at least 50 rushing yards, according to PFF ($$).

"“They do a really good job with him, and he does a great job, whether it’s called or not, of extending plays when it’s not called and executing them when they are called,” said Matt LaFleur via Packers Wire. “He presents a ton of challenges for any defense, both in the pocket and out of the pocket.”"

The Eagles run a lot of quarterback draws with Hurts but trying to keep him in the pocket begins with the Green Bay edge rushers. It will be up to Preston Smith, JJ Enagbare, and others to set strong edges — something the Packers haven’t been great at — so Hurts doesn’t have an easy escape route from the pocket. Hopefully, in those instances, the interior defensive line can generate some push to create pressure, although that won’t be easy against a very good Eagles’ offensive line.

Failure to contain Hurts will likely result in some big plays for the Eagles, both on the ground and through the air. It’s going to take all 11 defenders swarming to Hurts when he is on the move because, as both LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers talked about, his unwillingness to slide at times makes him difficult to bring down.

The last time the Packers played a quarterback who was a threat on the ground was Josh Allen. We saw them utilize zone coverage often, so the secondary could keep their eyes on Allen, but that didn’t much matter. Allen still rushed for 49 yards on only three scrambles, which included him extending a few drives.

AJ Brown vs. Packers zone coverage

Will the Packers defend Hurts and the Eagles differently than they did with Allen in Buffalo? I’m not so sure. And if that’s the case, we should expect a lot of zone coverage.

When Green Bay used this strategy against the Bills, that meant Jaire Alexander didn’t line up on Stefon Diggs. So there is the potential that he isn’t following AJ Brown around, either.

The Eagles don’t push the ball downfield a ton, but Hurts has been incredibly efficient, both in completion percentage and yards per attempt, with 8.3. His favorite target has been Brown, who has caught 49 of 75 passes and ranks among the best in yards per catch as well as YAC.

There have been times over the last month that we’ve seen the Packers cornerbacks playing closer to the line of scrimmage, although it’s been sporadic. With the typical off-coverages that we see, the miscommunications that the Packers are still having in the secondary, along with the lack of pressure created up front, Brown could be in store for a good day. Simply giving Brown too much space to work with is not going to be a recipe for success for Green Bay.