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September 26, 2019

Five over/unders for Eagles' Week 4 matchup vs. Packers

1320922_Eagles_Lions_Carson_Wentz_Kate_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Eagles QB Carson Wentz runs to avoid a sack against the Lions. Will we be seeing more of that on Thursday night?

The Eagles will have their work cut out for them on Thursday night as they travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers at Lambeau Field. And Philly will enter the game in desperate need of a win in order to avoid a 1-3 start, their first since Chip Kelly was running the show. 

Facing an Aaron Rodgers-led team is never an easy task, let alone on a short week, but there's reason to believe the Eagles can pull off the upset on Thursday Night Football. We've already offered up our own predictions, broken down the injuries, and provided some matchups to watch in this one. 

Now, take a look at some numbers to watch in this one in the form of our weekly over/unders.

Total points: 46.0

That's the current total being offered over at Bovada, and typically we'd think that might be a little low considering the Eagles are averaging 55.3 total points per game this season. Unfortunately, the fact that Thursday night games are typically pretty sloppy combined with the Packers averaging just 31 total points per game (and have the second best scoring defense through three weeks), we're a little worried. 

But if you look at the teams that Green Bay has played this season, and you can begin to see why that small sample size can be a bit misleading. The Packers have played three teams that have been pretty decent at keeping their opponents off the scoreboard this season — the Bears (3rd in scoring defense), Vikings (5th) and Broncos (17th*) — while two of those three (Chicago and Denver) have had trouble scoring themselves. 

*While that puts them just outside the top half of the league, they're also just one score (seven points) away from being tied for tenth in the league. In other words, it's early, folks.

That's not the type of team they'll be facing on Thursday. The Eagles have allowed plenty of points (23rd) and have scored their fair share as well (9th). So perhaps that's why four of our six writers, including yours truly, are picking this game to hit the over. 


Carson Wentz rushing yards: 25.5

Last week against the Lions, Carson Wentz ran four times for 33 yards. Would you be surprised to learn that's tied for his third most in any game in his career? Because I was. Would you also be surprised to know that in the five career games in which he's ran for at least 30 yards, the Eagles are 1-4? Again, that's somewhat unexpected. Interestingly enough, the other time Wentz ran for 33 yards in a game, it was against this week's opponent, the Packers, during his rookie season, a game in which they lost in primetime. 

So what does that mean for Thursday night? Well, not a whole lot, other than it's worth keeping an eye on as Wentz will again be without his full complement of receivers with DeSean Jackson sidelined. He will, however, be getting Alshon Jeffery back, and Dallas Goedert will presumably be healthier than he was against Detroit, so maybe that will be enough to keep him from tucking the ball and taking off like he did several times last week. Additionally, the Packers sometimes like to drop an extra guy into coverage and just rush three in an effort to bait opposing quarterbacks into bad throws rather than flushing them out of the pocket. 

One thing to keep an eye on, however, is the Packers pass rush. They're tied for second in the NFL with 12 sacks through three games and are fifth in the NFL with 23 QB hits — and the Eagles offensive line hasn't been doing Wentz a ton of favors so far this season. I think we see him run for a first down or two on Thursday night, but I think his rushing total will be relatively low in this one (and that's a good thing).


Eagles dropped passes: 3.5

By the end of the Lions game, when J.J. Arcega-Whiteside let the potential go-ahead touchdown slip through his finger, it was hard not to laugh. I mean, look at all these drops.

The only thing missing is some Benny Hill music. 

The Birds finished with seven (SEVEN!) drops against Detroit. That's laughable. Will the Eagles receivers be able to put that performance out of their minds and bounce back on a short week? Sure, Alshon Jeffery will be back (more on him in a minute) and it can't possibly get worse (right?), but can the Eagles cut those drops in half this week? If they were able to do that against the Lions, they would've come away with a victory. I picked the Eagles to win this week, and it would be tough for them to do that with four or more drops. I don't see them finishing with a drop-free game — there will definitely still be some — but I don't foresee it being anywhere near as bad as last week.

UNDER (barely).

Alshon Jeffery receptions: 6.5

Last week, Wentz was without his top wideout in Alshon Jeffery, and he'll be a welcomed addition to the offense in Green Bay. But how involved will he be after missing nearly all of the last two games? Well, it all depends how short Wentz' memory is. 

After watching pass after pass get dropped last week again Detroit — and even more being dropped a week earlier against Atlanta — Wentz may be hesitant to trust those receivers fully. Every one of them — Zach Ertz included — dropped at least one in Week 3. But not Alshon Jeffery. 

Whether or not those thoughts creep into Wentz' head don't actually matter that much, as Jeffery will be the team's top target on the outside, and after he had five receptions on six targets in the Eagles' Week 1 win, look for those numbers to increase quite a bit in this one with DeSean Jackson still sidelined. 


Sacks by Eagles defense: 1.5

There's only one team in the entire NFL with fewer sacks than the Eagles: the Denver Broncos, who have a grand total of zero. The Eagles only have two to their name through the first three games, and that's just not going to get the job done. Jim Schwartz' defense has managed 18 QB hits, which is tied for 15th in the NFL, but it's the sacks that really matter, and they just aren't finishing the job. 

This week, that might change.

Aaron Rodgers has been sacked seven times this season, and that includes a clean sheet against the aforementioned Broncos. And with Rodgers less mobile than he's been in the past, there's a chance the Eagles defense finally starts getting home this week. Here's what our own Evan Macy wrote in his Eagles prediction for this week:

I just read somewhere that the Eagles pass rush was the third best in the NFL at beating blockers in 2.5 seconds. Unfortunately through two weeks, opposing quarterbacks have been getting rid of the ball too quickly for Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and the rest of the defense to generate sacks. Aaron Rodgers has the slowest "time to throw" of any quarterback this season at 3.06 seconds (and had the fifth slowest of all QBs in 2018). This is the game for the pass rush to shine. 
Look for the Eagles to double their sack total on the season with a pair against Rodgers on Thursday night. 


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