By Rob Maaddi
Remember when the Eagles went to Lambeau Field on a short week and beat the previously unbeaten Green Bay Packers 34-27 on Thursday Night Football in Week 4 last year?
Ah, those were the good days.
Clueless people criticized Carson Wentz after that game because he only threw for 160 yards. He also tossed three touchdown passes, had no turnovers and posted a 113.2 passer rating. Still, that didn’t stop misguided critics who didn’t have the football sense to realize he didn’t throw much because the offense had 176 yards rushing.
Yes, those were the good days.
This Eagles team is a mess as it heads to Lambeau at 3-7-1 to face the 8-3 Packers as heavy underdogs.
Aaron Rodgers, who just turned 37, is having one of the best seasons of his future Hall of Fame career. He has 33 touchdowns and only four interceptions and a 117.6 passer rating.
The Packers are competing for the No. 1 seed in the NFC so there’s little chance of a letdown for them. They have the NFL’s 4th-ranked offense and are tied for 13th on defense.
Rodgers is 19-3 at home in December so this game just gets tougher.
Here are three matchups to watch:
- Eagles DT Fletcher Cox vs. Packers LG Jon Runyan
Jon Runyan, the son of the former Eagles right tackle, is expected to make his first career start because of starting center Corey Linsley and guard Lucas Patrick. Runyan has come off the bench the last two weeks. He struggled against Indianapolis’ DeForest Buckner but fared well against Chicago last week.
For the Eagles to have any chance against the Packers, they’ll need to pressure Rodgers and it starts with Cox in the middle in this mismatch.
Cox has a sack in four straight games but he missed practice with a neck injury Wednesday and Thursday. The Eagles need him to be the type of game-wrecker they expected when they gave him a $102.6 million contract.
- Eagles CB Darius Slay vs. Packers WR Davante Adams
Slay came here because the Eagles needed a guy to cover the No. 1 receiver and he’s played well for the most part. But DK Metcalf had his way against him, catching 10 passes for 177 yards. Afterward, Slay took blame for the 23-17 loss to the Seahawks.
Adams has 74 catches for 908 yards and 11 TDs in only nine games. He has the stats fans can only dream about for Eagles receivers. Slay was limited in Thursday’s practice with a calf injury. If he’s not at his best, things could get ugly. Then again, Adams had 180 yards receiving against the Eagles last year and the Packers still lost.
“Slay took it for the team, and I was proud of him for that,” Jim Schwartz said about matching Slay on Metcalf. “I was proud of his accountability, but a lot of that accountability is me too because that was the game plan. It was put him one-on-one and try to keep him out of the end zone and it’s all about limiting their offense. It’s not about limiting one player.”
- Eagles TEs vs. Packers LBs/S
Carson Wentz relies on his tight ends mainly because his receivers aren’t open too often and rarely make contested catches. He’s thrown all four of his TD passes in the last two games to Dallas Goedert and Richard Rodgers. Zach Ertz is expected back this week, too.
But the Packers have allowed only 38 receptions to tight ends this season.
Ertz only had 24 catches in six games. That doesn’t mean he won’t get plenty of attention from the defense.
“He’s a smooth route-runner,” Packers safety Adrian Amos said. “Runs routes like a receiver, has a bigger body, smooth in and out of breaks. He knows how to find holes in zones. He knows how to get open with intermediate and deep routes.”