Senior writer jclombardi looks at Packers vs Eagles game day.
Mettle test rematch game: After a second-half rally came up short in the season opener Sept. 12, the Philadelphia Eagles cornerback let the Green Packers know, in no uncertain terms, that they’d be seeing him again. “We beat them (27-20) and we were kind of celebrating,” said linebacker Desmond Bishop. “We were walking off the field and Asante Samuel was angry. He was like, ‘We’re going to see y’all again in the playoffs. This is Game 1.’ I just took it as he was angry or whatever.” Samuel’s prediction, like that of Aaron Rodgers, has come to pass. Seventeen weeks after Samuel uttered those prescient words, the Packers return to Philadelphia, this time for an NFC wild-card game at Lincoln Financial Field at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. But other than the color of their uniforms, both teams have been so dramatically altered by injury and circumstance that the season-opener might as well have been played five years ago. Vick’s passer rating of 100.2 ranks second in the NFC behind only Rodgers’ mark of 101.2, and Vick actually has the lower interception percentage (1.6 to 2.3). That’s notable because Rodgers is considered among the best in the league at protecting the ball. Besides the Eagles’ change at quarterback, the makeup of both teams has been altered considerably by injuries to key players. The Packers lost running back Ryan Grant and tight end Jermichael Finley struggling to replace them, perhaps one reason the offense has been inconsistent. “They are who they are, despite any injuries they may have,” said Greg Jennings, the Packers’ leading receiver. “Every team goes though that injury phase. They’ve gone through it, as have we. We don’t feel sorry for them; they don’t feel sorry for us. They have who they have back there and it’s our job to execute and to exploit any opportunity that we have.” The constants are that both teams have backups and reserves who have stepped up and sound schemes the coaches and players trust. “A lot of things have changed,” Colledge said. “Guys have gone through injuries, guys are playing different football. But they have talent and they have ability and they’ve done a good job. We’re expecting a fight.”
Commentary: Elite QB Rodgers can win against a patchwork secondary with the Packers being a more talented team to win a shootout. Also, the Packers blitz pressure and coverage defense is much improved to stop the Eagles passing attack and QB Vick. The Packers run defense can be solid too knowing the Eagles game plan. Coach McCarthy knows where the Eagles will attack and game manage against them. Finally, the Eagles are too banged up, too soft on defense and too ripe for the Packers to lose. It is time for the Packers to get beyond the bad 4-26 memory in the playoffs against the Eagles. Frankly, this game should not be close unless the Packers let it be one by playing down to the competition. It really is about the intangibles in life and football. Go Pack!