Early Bird Breakdown Week 10: Eagles @ Packers

Continuing the on-going series of early morning Packer game previews, we first take a quick look back at last week’s contest:

 The Good: Eddie Lacy

Despite losing to Chicago, a star was born Monday night. Sure, Eddie Lacy had good games already, but after Rodgers went down, he became the guy for Green Bay. Chicago knew it and tried to stop him but like a true-star, what they did could not keep him back. Lacy on 22 carries netted 150 yards and a much-needed touchdown in the third quarter. At one point in that quarter as he jogged off the field for a break, the stadium was shouting, “Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!” If the Packers want to survive without Rodgers, Lacy will have to be the one to carry them forward.

The Bad: Seneca Wallace

To be fair to Wallace, he has had no real reps with Green Bay. He was not on the roster during the pre-season and for the Packers the backups rarely get meaningful reps because of the complexity of the offense usually Rodgers takes all of the reps. It was obvious he was going to struggle, especially in the first half. Having said that, Wallace at times looked lost on the football field. One clear example was when he was about to be sacked by McClellin, escaped the pocket, and after McClellin had fallen down Wallace, now with both running room and an open receiver threw it away, getting panicked by the near sack. He will need to show a huge step forward this week, or else Green Bay’s season will be in jeopardy.

The Ugly: The Quarterback Situation

Injuries have been a common theme for Green Bay. Going into last week, it looked like everything was actually starting to break Green Bay’s way with everyone lining up to come back and the team still playing at a high level. That was until Rodgers went down. Since Matt Flynn’s departure, the backup situation has been atrocious, and that may have been putting it mildly. Graham Harrell was awful in most of his preseason appearances in his career after he was cut from a Canadian Football team for not being good enough to make their roster, ultimately being cut this year by the Packers now as well. Seneca Wallace was a last minute addition after the Packers cut Harrell. Green Bay’s only other option is recent practice-squad-promoted Scott Tolzein. Tolzein was not spectacular in coverage nor did anything to elevate himself off of the practice squad except via injury. The Packers season may end because there was no competent backup for Rodgers.

How I did:

“Packers 34-10 over the Bears – The entire game changed on the opening drive. Shea McClellin sacked Rodgers which lead to Rodgers going to the locker room out for the game. In came Seneca Wallace, and the promising opening drive became a field goal. From that point forward, the Packers passing game remained grounded and Josh McCown looked very impressive for Chicago,  good enough that if Cutler who is rushing back this week looks rusty could come back into the starting job. All said, it was impressive how close the final score was, with the real final 27-20 Chicago.

Opponent Recap:

The Philadelphia Eagles went to Oakland with backup Nick Foles returning to the lineup. He was greeted by a defensive game plan that featured no blitzing and more than a few times boldly not covering receivers. Foles took every advantage and threw seven TDs, tying an NFL record, and he only needed three quarters to do it. The final score was 49-20 Philadelphia.

The Breakdown:

Packers’ Offense vs. Eagles’ Defense:

Philadelphia is last in the league in total defense and passing defense. In a normal week, this looks like a bountiful feast, especially in Green Bay. However, Senneca Wallace is not Aaron Rodgers, and despite a week of practice for him now, I do not think he will have a very productive game. He could surprise because the way the Eagles have been covering and tackling this year just a few completions could lead to points. The Eagles are in the middle of the pack against the run but that is mostly due to the fact that no one bothers running since the Eagles cannot cover anyone. Lacy will need to be the star and play like it this week to give Green Bay a chance. Green Bay after last week is now third in rushing per game and will need to rely on this now powerful run game of Lacy and James Starks to win without Rodgers.

Packers’ Defense vs. Eagles’ Offense:

In the battle of the backups, the Eagles present the stronger candidate. Coming off of an NFL touchdown-record-tying performance, Nick Foles looks to be a competent starter, especially after what backup Josh McCown did last week. Having said that, Oakland really phoned it in on defense last week and Foles should not be putting up Peyton Manning numbers again this week. The Eagles are a very good offense this year under Chip Kelly though, having had to start three different quarterbacks and still being fourth in total offense,  10 th in passing, and fourth in rushing. Green Bay will have its hands full covering WR Desean Jackson and slowing down RB LeSean McCoy on the Eagles. Green bay is 15 th now in total defense, 20 th against the pass but fifth against the run. Green Bay will have to let the front seven try and slow this talented rushing attack because they need to be very careful in the secondary as Philadelphia is based around big plays by their fast receivers. As a plus, Clay Matthews may make his return this week as a game-time decision.

The Weather Factor:

The noon kickoff game will be in sunny and crisp 40 o weather with minimal winds. While chilly resulting in a bit of a harder ball, the passing offenses should not be hampered, especially since both teams are outdoor and cold weather teams.

The Game:

I think this game goes down to better bench management by the general manager. The Eagles have now invested a couple of fairly high picks in recent years at quarterback (Nick Foles, 3 rd round 2012 & Matt Barkley, 4 th round 2013) and it has provided a much more stable situation as they have had multiple quarterback injuries. As for Green Bay, the team has not found a suitable replacement since Matt Flynn walked out the door. If we look back to Flynn’s first start he was coming off of a similar situation to Wallace. He came in to replace an injured Rodgers against Detroit and subsequently looked awful. Then, a week of practice later came in and nearly beat New England in New England. If Wallace takes a large step forward from last week and the combination of Eddie Lacy and James Starks exceeds 200 yards with a pair of TDs, I could see Green Bay getting a precious Rodgers-less win. But with the way the Eagles offense has been looking, Green Bay may be forced to throw and if Wallace looks like he did Monday, it will be a long day. I think Green Bay can run it this week and keep the Eagles offense off the field, but ultimately the lack of a quality QB hurts Green Bay, leading to a final of 31-23 Eagles .

Fantasy Extra:

Start’em:

Nick Foles: Honestly Foles in this offense looks like a must start going forward unless you have Brees, Brady, or Stafford probably. He has been good in three of his four games with meaningful minutes and Green Bay has not been stout against the pass.

Eddie Lacy: The now focus of the Green Bay offense, Lacy will get at least 20 touches each week and should wrap up double digit points going forward weekly.

Desean Jackson and Riley Cooper: These two have been having great seasons with Foles and expect it to continue.

 

Sit’em:

Green Bay receivers: I think Wallace will throw at least one touchdown today, but we have no idea to whom. He has no rapport with his receivers and until we see who he favors, it is a gamble with everyone, even Nelson.

 

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