In less than three hours, the Eagles will try to do something that no NFL team has done in more than two years — Beat the Packers in a regular season game at Lambeau Field when Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback.
The Eagles of course left Lambeau with a 27-13 victory last November, but playing against Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien does not quite compare with facing one of the greatest signal-callers on the planet.
Still, despite many folks predicting a Packers win today, understandably so, I believe the Eagles will be in the game late and could steal a big one if a few things fall into place.
Here are five numbers that I believe could key a win in Lambeau for the second straight year:
- Less than 80 receiving yards for Jordy Nelson — Randall Cobb is great. He has scored touchdowns in six consecutive games and eight of nine contests on the year, but the Packers receiver who really scares me is Nelson. I think Brandon Boykin should be able to match up with Cobb, but defending the 6-foot-3 Nelson poses a mismatch. If Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher can rise to the occasion and do it, it would go a long way toward an Eagles win.
- At least one interception thrown by Aaron Rodgers — Should this happen, it will mark the first time since December 2, 2012 that the Packers quarterback will have thrown an interception at home. Rodgers on the season has only thrown three picks versus 25 touchdown passes — a Nicky Foles 2013 esque ratio right there. The Packers are 0-2 in the two games where he has been intercepted though. Force him to do something that he has not done in nearly two calendar years, and I will feel much better about the Eagles chances. Some credit for this stat goes to Andrew Porter, who pointed it out earlier this week.
- Three or more three and outs from the Packers offense — Turnovers are great, but Rodgers won’t commit many of them, so the Eagles defense will need another way to keep the Packers dangerous offense off the field, and the most efficient method is forcing a punt after three plays. The Eagles defense played pretty well in losses to the 49ers and Cardinals but seemed to tire late from being on the field a lot. I’m not a big time of possession guy, but keeping Rodgers watching from the sideline as often as possible would be nice today.
- Mark Sanchez completing no less than 60 percent of his passes — Sanchez was very good last Monday night, but the one area where the revitalized quarterback seemed to struggle a bit was with his accuracy, going 20-for-37 and completing less than 55 percent of his passes. Sanchez was off target to some open receivers at times. Against a struggling Panthers team, that was okay, but it could hurt today if he has to keep up with Rodgers in a shootout. Improved accuracy — even just by a small margin — could go a long way in keeping Chip Kelly’s offense rolling in the cold.
- More than seven receptions by Jordan Matthews — We like watching Jordan Matthews catch passes. Mark Sanchez likes throwing passes to the Eagles rookie receiver. Matthews announced his presence in a big way six days ago with seven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns on nine total targets. Matching that yardage total could be difficult, but a similarly productive game would be awesome.
Other factors including getting my dude Zach Ertz more involved in the passing game and an improved running game will be impactful as well, but these are the big things that jump out.
You will notice a lot about the Eagles defense in today’s post. It’s a big day not just for the unit, but for Billy Davis career wise in my opinion. If the Eagles defensive coordinator wants to run his own show one day, he has a serious chance to impress today.
Buckle Up, dawgies, ought to be a wild afternoon.