The media will make this game a matchup between Michael Vick and Aaron Rodgers or maybe even Greg Jennings and DeSean Jackson. It could even be about Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson versus the high powered Eagles offensive. While both of these are quite valid, today’s wildcard game will be decided by the offensive and defensive lines.
In week one, Kevin Kolb clearly was not the answer for the Eagles. Number 4 getting injured proved to be the best thing for the 2010 Eagles, as Michael Vick tripled the production of Kolb in a quarter and a half. But let’s forget about the quarterback controversy so many like to point out in the opening game of the season. The stats about the lines say it all.
The Packers defensive line/front seven dominated the Eagles on September 12th. Led by Clay Matthews, the Packers compiled six sacks. The Eagles had just three. The Packers hit the quarterback seven times, whereas the Eagles got to Rodgers just three times. Finally, the Green and Gold had seven pass deflections, three more than the Eagles four.
It is true that Michael Vick’s performance is going to be the difference maker. However, as shown all season long, his production hinders on the offensive line. The Packers are going to be blitzing all afternoon and Michael Vick is going to be scrambling. If Vick can buy enough time to force some linebackers to pick up receivers, then he can run all over Green Bay. However, if the Packers get to him just seconds after the ball is snapped, the Eagles stand no chance.
Defensively, the Eagles are going to have to be very aggressive. Unlike most games this season, Philadelphia does not need to focus solely on stopping the run. They don’t need to load up the box because Brandon Jackson and James Starks have not changed games on the ground. Instead, the Eagles are going to need to blitz and blitz often. If they can get behind the line of scrimmage and force Rodgers to make bad throws (like he did in the second half of week one), then the ‘Birds could limit the number of big plays that the Packers are known for.
Trent Cole is due for a big game. He has been somewhat invisible since Brandon Graham went down. Since the bye week, Cole has had just four sacks and one in the last four weeks. His success will take pressure away from Juqua Parker and Darryl Tapp, thus allowing them to contribute defensively.
The sad thing for the Eagles is that the Packers strengths are the Eagles’ weakness. Philadelphia’s banged up secondary is going to need to contain one of the deepest receiving cores in the league in Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson. Outside of the 4th quarter of the Giants game, the Eagles defensive line has failed to get to the quarterback in the last five weeks. They will make the secondary’s lives a lot easier if they force Rodgers to get rid of the ball early.
Here are some interesting numbers from Philly.com
And some key matchups