Final Thoughts: Packers face big challenge vs. Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) hands off to Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (26) on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) hands off to Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (26) on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. /

Coming off a mini-bye following yet another disappointing loss, the Green Bay Packers face perhaps their most difficult test of the season up to this point as they face a complete Philadelphia Eagles team with few weaknesses and are doing so on the road.

It’s a prime-time matchup between these two teams, and to kick things off, I have my final thoughts on this game tween the Packers and Eagles.

The Packers’ offensive line is going to be challenged against the Eagles’ defensive front. They are one of the best at creating pressure, and they do it most of the time with only rushing four, which leaves extra defenders in coverage.

With that said, if the Packers are going to find any success, it’s going to begin with the run game. While the Eagles are still very good against the run, in recent weeks, without Jordan Davis in the middle, they have proven to be susceptible. Everything in this Green Bay offense builds off the run game and will open up the passing game, including through play-action, along with Matt LaFleur’s playbook. Even if it’s tough sledding, they have to find a way to stick with it.

– Why do the Packers need to stick with the run game? Well, the passing game isn’t good enough to carry this team, and we saw that against the Titans. I also see it being a more challenging way of moving the ball. As already mentioned, pressure will be an issue, and there will be extra defenders in coverage to contend with. The Eagles’ cornerbacks also play very aggressively, and we’ve seen defenses in previous weeks give the Packers receivers fits when pressing at the line of scrimmage. However, perhaps the Packers can use that aggressiveness to their advantage at times with some big plays over the top. Leaning into the LaFleur offense with bunch sets and motion to get clean releases will help.

– It’s tough to find a weak point on the Eagles’ defense, but the linebackers may be one unit that Green Bay can find some success going against.

– When the Packers faced Josh Allen a few weeks ago, they used mostly zone coverage in the secondary, and one big reason was to keep the defenders’ eyes on Allen, who could very much hurt Green Bay with his mobility. This also meant that Jaire Alexander wasn’t on Stefon Diggs either–and neither part of the plan worked out well. Do we see Green Bay take the same approach against the mobile Jalen Hurts? Who is going to cover AJ Brown? Alexander may be best suited to cover DeVonta Smith while Rasul Douglas takes Brown–although Brown has been the far more explosive receiver.

– The Eagles draw up a lot of designed runs for Hurts but he will create for himself when the play breaks down as well. Matt LaFleur talked about how tough he is to bring down because of his unwillingness to slide. The Packers edge rushers — to keep Hurts in the pocket — and the linebackers will play key roles in slowing him.

– If Green Bay has any hopes of creating pressure, it’s going to have to come with blitzes. The Packers have struggled to generate pressure without Rashan Gary, and the Eagles have a top offensive line unit. Although when they blitz, they leave themselves susceptible in the passing game. I would also expect newcomer Justin Hollins to see some defensive snaps as well, given that the Packers are hurting at edge rusher depth, along with more edge rusher snaps for Quay Walker–he had 17, according to PFF ($$), against Tennessee.

– How is Joe Barry going to go about defending this Eagles’ offense? This is about as well-rounded of a unit as you will see, so if Barry wants to take away the run, the Packers are likely to get burned through the passing game, and vice-versa. Hurts can hurt teams with both his arm and legs. Miles Sanders is averaging almost five yards per carry, while Brown and Dallas Goedert are among the most explosive players at their positions in terms of yards per catch and YAC.

– Some hope for the Packers defense is that the Eagles have six giveaways the last two games. But can the Packers take advantage of any opportunities? They’ve struggled to this season and the offense has had issues taking advantage of those turnovers from the defense.

– The season very much feels over, but from a mathematical standpoint, the Packers are still alive and will likely need to win out and receive some help if they want to make the playoffs. Coming off a tough loss and a mini-bye, how does this team respond? Will it look like everyone is ready for the offseason? Or will they come out swinging?

– It has flown under the radar because everything else has been so bad, but the Packers’ special teams unit hasn’t been good at all.

Prediction: Packers 17 – Eagles 27