Match-Up Focus: Eagles vs Packers

PREVIOUS GAME RESULTS

2014 WEEK 11 PHI 20 GB 53

2013 WEEK 10 PHI 27 GB 13

2010 WILDCARD GB 21 PHI 16

Player to Watch – Paul Turner

We finally got our wish.  Eagles fans have been clambering for Paul Turner after the year long struggles of Nelson Agholor.  It hasn’t been confirmed if Agholor will indeed be giving a “mental break” but it sure looks that way.  Turner had a tremendous pre season catching everything thrown his way.  Turner was undrafted from LA Tech where he was a college standout.  At 5’10 193 he’s not the fatest nor the strongest.  The Eagles aren’t getting Randy Moss here.  I do think they are getting (from what I’ve seen) a reliable WR who won’t try to do to much and will make plays when his number is called.  He probably won’t see the bulk of the playing time but there will be opportunities for him.  The best thing Turner has going for him is he’s not Nelson Agholor.  If he comes out and makes some great plays we will start to question why this move wasn’t made earlier in the season.

Player to Watch – Wendell Smallwood

Monday night’s game will most likely mark the first start of Smallwoods career.  He will be the bell cow with both Sproles and Mathews injured.  Although Sproles expects to play after a rib injury he will only see limited action.  I’m excited to see what a full game of Smallwood will bring.  He’s shown he’s not afraid to hit the hole and has the speed to get to the edge.  What I’ve liked so far is his patience.  He hasn’t pressed the hole too quickly as most rookie RBs tend to due.  Just because Mathews and Sproles are out doesn’t mean Doug needs to get pass heavy.  It’s been proven, especially under Doug this team is a good team and can play with anyone when they’re committed to running the football.  There’s no reason why Smallwood shouldn’t have 20 carries.  This is a game this team should win and win by 2 scores.  The Packers are struggling and won’t be in the playoff picture.  The Eagles need to take advantage of this reeling team.  They’ll do that by pounding the football.

Player to Watch – Aaron Rodgers

This is the easiest player to watch I’ve written to this point in the season. The Green Bay Packers go as Aaron Rodgers goes it’s as simple as that. Any fan of the NFL has heard the questions surrounding Rodgers and the Packers all season. From the games I’ve seen it’s not really an issue with Rodgers other than the fact he’s pressing to make big plays because of the other offensive deficiencies. Since the loss of Eddie Lacy for the season the Packers have no semblance of a ground game which forces Rodgers to throw it 40 plus times a game. In years past that wouldn’t be an issue except the Packers skilled players are on the decline. Jordy Nelson is still attempting to fully recover from his torn ACL which hurts Rodgers because that’s his favorite target. The offensive line has been in flux as well often times leading to Rodgers scrambling around to make plays. In the last seven games Rodgers has attempted less than 40 passes just once which came in a road loss to the Falcons. He threw for 351 yards and three scores against the Redskins, however the defense allowed 42 points on the night. Pro Football Focus has Rodgers graded as the 9th best quarterback on the season. Regardless of the struggles the Packers offense has had this year I am not taking this group or Rodgers in particular lightly at all. Jim Schwartz has a history of facing Rodgers and the defense will need to contain the big plays at home.

Player to Watch – Rodney McLeod

The free agent signee from the Rams was one of the more underrated acquisitions during the NFL offseason. To this point McLeod has been a big help to the Eagles defense and secondary especially allowing Malcolm Jenkins to be used in the nickel corner role. He took a poor angle as the last line of defense when CJ Prosise took it 70 plus yards to the house. McLeod has done a great job all season of preventing big plays against the Eagles defense despite that run. PFF has McLeod graded as the 28th safety and he ranks 19th in terms of pass coverage. Personally I think he is a much better player than that ranking, but PFF is a reliable source which I value as a hardcore NFL follower. He’s also playing with a trio of lower ranked corners which impacts his play as well. As I mentioned earlier, McLeod has prevented the long pass plays this season. He’ll need to continue that trend this week against Aaron Rodgers who is looking to make shot plays with his struggling offense. Jordy Nelson is the likely target for Rodgers as Davante Adams and Randall Cobb are more of possession type receivers. McLeod and the Eagles defense have been bend but don’t break. They need to force the Packers to string long drives together as their running game is hardly effective.

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