Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles, 1/9 Fox 3:30 PM
When these two teams met in Week 1, the Packers appeared to be the Super Bowl favorite while the Eagles appeared to be in transition from the Donovan McNabb era to the Kevin Kolb era.
The Packers won the first matchup in Philadelphia, 27-20. The final score was not as close as it appears. The Packers did have to repel a late Eagles charge led by then-backup quarterback Michael Vick.
Vick replaced Kolb as the starter in the middle of the season. Since then Vick has displayed amazing feats of athleticism. It reminded people of his time in Atlanta before his time incarcerated in a federal prison for running a dog fighting ring.
Part of the resurgence of Vick’s career is the big play ability of his wide receivers, especially Pro Bowler DeSean Jackson. Despite only playing in 14 games, Jackson caught 47 passes for 1,056 yards and 6 touchdowns. Jackson is especially dangerous on the punt return. In Week 15, Jackson became the first NFL player to return a punt for a game winning touchdown in the Eagles “Miracle at The New Meadowlands” comeback win over the Giants, 38-31.
To counter Michael Vick, the Packers will have to rely on their pass rush. Linebacker Clay Matthews was fourth in the NFL with 13.5 sacks.
When the Packers are healthy, they appear unstoppable. Key injuries played a role in each of their six losses. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers with his NFC best 101.2 QB rating has led the Packers to consecutive playoff berths.
It appeared that the Packers season was done after an embarrassing 7-3 loss in Detroit a month ago followed by a 31-27 loss in New England that was due to clock mismanagement on the Packers final drive.
Meanwhile, the Eagles looked like a Super Bowl team after the mid-season win over the Redskins and comeback win over the Giants until dropping their final two games (though the Dallas game had no bearing on playoff positions, but….).
I predicted the Packers to represent the NFC and win the Super Bowl at the beginning of this season. In this playoff season, especially in the NFC, anything is possible. Hell… SEATTLE could be the NFC’s rep in Dallas this coming February.
Right now the Packers appear to be getting hot and healthy right now. The Eagles might have a difficult time getting up to playoff speed. Green Bay has been in playoff mode for the final two weeks of the season, while the Eagles stumbled and cost themselves a chance at a first round bye.
The Packers will advance to play the Falcons next weekend.
THE PICK: Packers 34, Eagles 20