December 04, 2020
The Philadelphia Eagles' season continues to unravel with each passing week, and it's not showing much promise of turning around any time soon. This week, they travel to Green Bay where they'll take on Aaron Rodgers and the 8-3 Packers in what will be "America's Game of the Week" on CBS.
If you can think of anything more appropriate for 2020 than subjecting the majority of the nation to what will likely be an absolute shellacking, please, let us know. It's bad enough the world is crumbling down around us and people are dying. But now, when people turn to football for a few hours of escapism on Sunday afternoon, much of the country will be forced to watch the Philadelphia Eagles — again! — try and fail in the most infuriating ways possible.
The only of glimmer of hope to make this game appealing to the masses — other than those who like watching car crashes on repeat — is the possibility of Jalen Hurts taking over for Carson Wentz. Unfortunately, as we saw in Monday night's loss to the Seahawks, and throughout much of the season for that matter, it's going to take quite a bit for Doug Pederson to turn over the controls over to the rookie. Last week there were reports that Hurts was going to be more heavily involved in the offense only for the second-round pick to wind up playing just two snaps — but, hey, at least he threw a pass.
Just like the dreadful NFC East has been doing its part in keeping the Eagles' postseason hopes alive, the Eagles defense is doing just enough to keep this team in games that are close enough for the Birds to rationalize not giving Hurts an extended look. Because barring an absolute blowout, something the Eagles somehow have avoided this season, it seems like Pederson's loyalty to Wentz is going to keep him under center for the remainder of the season, or at least until the Birds are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Unfortunately, that might not happen until the final week of the regular season.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. First, the Birds have a game to play against the first-place Packers. That should be fun, right? Well, according to our writers' predictions, it could be — assuming you're either from Green Bay or have turned on the Eagles and are now hoping they lose out to maximize draft position. Let's take a look...
TV: CBS (Jim Nantz & Tony Romo)
RADIO: 94.1 WIP (Merrill Reese & Mike Quick)
|DraftKings||GB -8.5||PHI +325|
|FanDuel||GB -8.5||PHI +315|
|UniBet||GB -8.5||PHI +325|
In each of the last two weeks, the Eagles have gotten garbage-time touchdowns to make final scores appear misleading. They lost 22-17 to the Browns, and 23-17 to the Seahawks, even though clearly those games weren't that close.
It has been the defense that has kept the Eagles at least semi-competitive, but it only feels like a matter of time before that dam breaks as well. The Eagles will face a Packers team led by Aaron Rodgers, who in my opinion is probably juuuuust a notch below Patrick Mahomes for the NFL's MVP through the first 12 weeks of the season.
Rodgers leads the NFL in TD passes (33), TD percentage (8.7% of his pass attempts result in TD), and QB rating (117.6). Conversely, Carson Wentz leads the NFL in INTs (16), sacks taken (46), and he has the second-most fumbles (10). Wentz actually has five more INTs this season (again, 15) than Rodgers has in his last three seasons combined (10).
In two of the Eagles' three wins (against the 49ers and Giants), they produced three turnovers. In their other win (vs. Dallas), they got two turnovers, and were otherwise unchallenged by Ben DiNucci. In this matchup, Rodgers is a quarterback who just doesn't make many mistakes. Only the Titans and Chiefs have turned it over fewer times in 2020. This may sound like remedial analysis, but because the Eagles' offense is so broken, they need their opponents to screw up in order to win games, and that just isn't going to happen this week in Green Bay.
The Packers are chasing the Saints for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, which is more meaningful this year since only one team will get a bye. They will not be overlooking the Eagles, who beat them in Green Bay last year. I think this one gets really ugly on both sides of the ball.
The Eagles will score a garbage touchdown, like they have in their two most recent losses that were way worse than the score indicates. But they were crushed. I predict the same will happen Sunday.
Here are the two teams we are talking about:
|Total offense||322.8 (28th)||392.9 (4th)|
|Points per game||21.5 (25th)||31.7 (1st)|
|Giveaways||21 (30th)||9 (3rd)|
|QB rating||73.8 (30th)||117.6 (1st)|
|TD passes||16 (21st)||33 (1st)|
|Third down rate||38.6 (27th)||48.5 (4th)|
I could go on and on, but you get the point.
Sadly, as we broke down in our look at the NFC East, the Eagles could lose the next three games and still control their own destiny to make the playoffs.
There's doesn't need to be a lot of explanation here, assuming you've watch more than 10 minutes of Eagles football this season, and even less if you've watched the Packers play. The Birds can't seem to do anything right, save for maybe on the defensive side of the ball where they're actually not terrible. But they'll have their work cut out for them on the road in Green Bay on Sunday afternoon.
The Packers are first in the league in scoring, and although Jim Schwartz's unit did a solid job on Monday night against another high-powered offense in the Seahawks, it seems like it's only a matter of time before they have a poor showing as well. Not only do the Packers have one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league right now in Aaron Rodgers, again playing like an MVP candidate, but they also have a wide receiver who absolutely killed the Eagles the last time these teams mets. And on top of that, they have a pair of dangerous running backs who can not only punt it up the middle but can catch passes out of the backfield as well. There's a reason they're the NFL's top offense through the first 12 weeks of the season.
The Packers defense is just middle of the road, but that's really all you need when you can simply outscore your opponents. Sure, the Eagles have held their last five opponents to an average of 20.4 points per game, but none of those opponents were the Packers. More importantly, the Birds are also one of just two teams in the entire NFL not to score 30 points in a game (the other is the winless Jets). If you think they can keep up with the Packers after watching their first 11 games, I'm not really sure what to tell you.
The Eagles are bad.
Why? Have you watched the last three weeks?
Aaron Rodgers is going to win this football game one way or another. He's getting the ball out faster than ever, and has no problem handing it off to both of his running backs. There's also the Davante Adams problem, something that will present even more of an issue than DK Metcalf did last week. I would love to give you some crazy football reason as to why this would be the week that Carson Wentz "turns it around," but I can't. Take the Packers to win the first quarter and half. I'm taking them to win by two touchdowns.
With the 2020 season slipping way for the Eagles, the daunting image of Aaron Rodgers looms on the horizon.
One of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time is having another MVP-level season in Green Bay and pilots the top-ranked scoring offense in the NFL at 31.7 points-per-game.
More so the 8-3 Packers aren't the standard fare you're used to with Rodgers making the big plays and big spots. This is a more balanced offense that can run the football and throw with Jim Schwartz gushing about its efficiency.
The numbers highlight that. Green Bay is No. 4 overall in total offense and top 10 in rushing (10), passing (6), third-down offense (4), and red-zone success (3).
The Packers excel in just about everything with coach Matt LaFleur proving to be an early success in getting Rodgers to buy into a more structured approach in favor of the sandlot football that made the veteran into the most dangerous player in the NFL. The latter is still there, however, with Rodgers one of the best ever when it comes to pocket awareness and the ability to extend plays while keeping his eyes downfield for the big-play strike.
The Eagles defense is underrated, especially in Philadelphia, and ranks top 10 in its own right when it comes to total defense, pass defense and third-down defense, but this is a league skewed toward the other side of the football and Doug Pederson doesn't have the horses with a shell-shocked QB throwing to underwhelming playmakers behind a makeshift offensive line.
If you're beating Green Bay, you're winning a shootout and the Eagles simply aren't capable of that right now.