Soaring Packers host scuffling Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles might seem to be in a desperate situation, but they’re not far from the top of the NFC East.
The Green Bay Packers are in a much better position, but they want to keep their momentum moving in the right direction.
The two teams with vastly different discussions regarding quarterbacks meet Sunday in Green Bay, Wis.
The Packers are riding the reliable Aaron Rodgers, who’s coming off last weekend’s four-touchdown performance against the Chicago Bears.
The Eagles (3-7-1) are trying to make the most of their challenges, counting on Carson Wentz to pull them through.
“You know me, I’m not going to sit here and throw people under the bus,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “Guys just have to understand the sense of urgency that it takes to play a game and to prepare not only coaching, but also players. It’s a long season. The season is a grind.”
Needless to say, the mood is much lighter around the Packers (8-3).
“If you want to be a great team, these are the games you’ve got to win,” Rodgers said.
The Eagles remain in the thick of the race for the top spot in the NFC East. Yet Monday night’s 23-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks marked their third consecutive setback and kept them from taking over sole possession of first place in the division.
There was good news Wednesday for the Eagles, who activated Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz, who has missed the past five games with an ankle injury. He has just one touchdown catch this season after being the team’s leading receiver for the past four seasons.
“We’ve got a lot of moving parts, a lot of moving pieces, particularly in the offensive line,” Pederson said. “… Continuity and stability. That’s also been an issue with us. Some young players on the perimeter, new targets that Carson is throwing to.”
Also expected to be available this weekend for the Eagles is receiver J.J. Arceaga-Whiteside, who sat out the last two games after he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
While much attention has been given to the lowly NFC East, the Packers are the only NFC North team with a winning record. They hold a three-game lead over Chicago and Minnesota and are closing in on a second straight divisional crown.
Confidence is understandably growing with the Packers, who are also contending for the best overall record in the NFC. They trail the New Orleans Saints by one game, with their next three games against opponents with losing records.
Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur said the offense is showing the variety that he hopes will add to their potency as the season winds down. Much of that starts with a dependable offensive line.
“It makes it a lot easier, no doubt about it, when you have your whole playbook open,” LaFleur said.
The 41-25 victory against Chicago marked the third time Green Bay scored more than 40 points this season. However, it was the first time since the first two games of the season.
Rodgers does many of the things that enables the Packers to be versatile. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said there’s no simple way to combat Rodgers.
“He still makes those plays, but I think you’re seeing it in his overall play,” Schwartz said. “He still makes his big plays down the field, but I think he’s taken his game to another level this year.”
Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (neck) and safety Rudy Ford (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday and linebacker T.J. Edwards (hamstring) was limited.
–Field Level Media