Definitely the better of the two NFC playoff games, at least on paper. These teams actually squared off against each other in Week 1, resulting in a Packers win, but Kevin Kolb was the actual starter in that game, not Michael Vick. Once Kolb went down (thanks to Mr. Matthews), Vick stepped in and played phenomenal; other than the 4th and 1 that ended the game (thanks to Mr. Matthews…again), Vick was unstoppable. Will a similar fate result this time around for the Eagles, or will they pull out a win at home?
Keys for the Packers
The obvious key to winning this game for the Cheeseheads is stopping, or at least containing, Michael Vick. Vick’s said it himself that he will probably only be playing at around 75%. Now, whether or not that’s true is beyond me, but just knowing there’s a chance that he’s not 100% is already a plus for the Pack. If they can get pressure on Vick, they have a legitimate shot of coming into Philly and pulling out a W. Also, Aaron Rodgers is going to have to play lights out. Not having a run game is tough for any team, but if there’s a team that can get by (and has for pretty much the entire year) without one, it’s Green Bay. I suppose it would be huge if they did establish some type of run game, but against Philly’s front-7, it’s hard to imagine that happening; although, this is probably the ‘worst’ defense that Andy Reid has had during his tenure in Philadelphia.
Keys for the Eagles
The biggest key for Philadelphia is getting Michael Vick in a groove and letting him work over the Green Bay defense. This is much easier said than done, but if Vick gets hot, I think it’s going to be incredibly difficult for the Packers to recover, especially if they’re playing from behind most of the game. Also, establishing a run game is critical for the Eagles. Green Bay was 5th in total defense and 5th against the puss, but struggled against the run, ranking 18th overall. If Shady McCoy and Mike Vick can get it going on the ground, they’re going to be in good shape. Lastly, I think Philly needs to have a knack for the big play, a killer instinct mentality if-you-will. What I mean by this is that I think that Vick needs to look at DeSean Jackson early and often, and Jeremy Maclin as well. I’m not talking about 8-yard curl routes; I’m talking about 50-yard bombs. I believe doing so will really rattle this Pack secondary and allow Vick to settle much more in the pocket. Again, if any of these happen, it’s going to be very tough for Green Bay to stroll into Lincoln Financial Field and come away with the win.
If Green Bay was coming in having won a couple of meaningless games at the end of the year, perhaps I would pick Philly to win this one. But, the two games that the Pack won weren’t just ordinary games; they were win-or-go-home games. Essentially, they were playoff games before the playoffs officially started. They’re already in that playoff mindset where they know that a loss means they will be watching the rest of the season at home next to the wife and kids. Because of this, I’m picking the Packers in an upset over the Eagles, the 2nd time they would have come into Philly’s house and walked out with a victory this season. I just feel that Rodgers will outplay Vick and elevate his team to a date with Atlanta next week.
Green Bay – 24
Philadelphia – 21