Packers Keys to the Game (vs. Eagles)

Bill Huber

The Green Bay Packers will travel to face the Philadelphia Eagles at 7:20 p.m. on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia. NBC will televise the game.


In a series that dates to 1933, the Packers lead 29-17 (28-15 regular season; 1-2 playoffs).

The Packers have won six of the last eight, including 30-16 on Dec. 6, 2020, at Lambeau Field. Aaron Jones put the icing on the cake with a 77-yard touchdown run.

The last meeting in Philadelphia came in 2016. That was game one of “Run the Table,” with Green Bay winning 27-13.


Green Bay — Matt LaFleur, fourth season. Philadelphia — Nick Sirianni, second season.

When the Eagles have the ball

The Eagles boast a well-rounded offense. Before their week 11 game, they ranked third with 27.3 points per game. They were sixth in rushing with 142.7 yards per game and second with 7.90 yards per passing attempt.

They were fourth on third down (47% conversions), second on fourth down (75%) and third in the red zone (72.7% touchdowns). They were also No. 1 with only seven turnovers.

With Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, Green Bay’s defense will face a challenge on par with going against Buffalo’s Josh Allen. Hurts should be right in the middle of the MVP conversation. He’s having a fantastic season.

As a quarterback, he was third with a 106.5 passer rating and second with 8.37 yards per attempt. Plus, he’d added 354 rushing yards (3.8 average). Between passing (14) and rushing (seven), he’d accounted for 21 touchdowns.

Miles Sanders was 10th with 710 rushing yards. He was averaging a robust 4.97 yards per carry.

Aaron Rodgers could only wish he had a one-two receiver punch of A.J. Brown, who was acquired in a trade with the Titans, and DeVonta Smith, last year’s first-round pick.

Brown is a big man and a big-play threat with 44 catches for 725 yards and six scores through 10 weeks. Smith had a team-high 46 catches, which he’d turned into 481 yards and three touchdowns.

The Eagles will be down one key cog with tight end Dallas Goedert on injured reserve. He’s third on the team with 43 receptions.

Green Bay’s pass defense, which gave up 333 too-easy passing yards to Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, needs to cut out the mental mistakes that let receivers run free through the secondary.

“Yeah, that was certainly disappointing,” LaFleur said. “I thought for the most part we did a pretty good job defending the run. Any time you hold Derrick (Henry) to under 100 yards and a little over 3 yards a carry, that was a pretty solid effort. It leaves you a little susceptible on the back end, where you’ve got to be good.

“The thing that’s disappointing is just the busts, when you have guys that don’t play their responsibility and you get guys running free. That happened on three of the big, explosive plays that they had.”

The offensive line is excellent with left tackle Jordan Mailata, left guard Landon Dickerson, center Jason Kelce, right guard Isaac Seumalo and right tackle Lane Johnson.

Mailata, a former rugby player from Australia, is the weak link but the Packers have struggled to create pressure without Rashan Gary.

When the Packers have the ball

Heading into week 11, Philadelphia was eighth with 18.6 points allowed per game and third with 302.4 yards allowed per game.

The Eagles are superb against the pass, ranking second in yards per game (177.2) and yards per play (5) but vulnerable against the run, where it’s 20th in yards per game (124.8) and 26th in yards per carry (4.74). It is a big-play unit, ranking first with 20 takeaways and fifth in sack percentage.

The defensive front is robust. At the trade deadline, the Eagles acquired Robert Quinn from the Bears. He ranked second in the NFL in sacks last year. And last week, they added veteran defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh off the street. Throw in veteran Brandon Graham and that, incredibly, is the Eagles’ No. 2 defensive line.

As for the starters, the tackles are Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave with Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick manning the edges. Reddick, a former standout in Carolina, had 6½ sacks and three forced fumbles.

Sweat has 3½ sacks and team-leading totals of 12 quarterback hits and eight tackles for losses. While the multi-time Pro Bowler Cox is the big name, Hargrave is the secret star with a team-high seven sacks.

The linebackers are former Wisconsin star T.J. Edwards, and Kyzir White. Edwards has blossomed into a really good pro after entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He had 86 tackles, two sacks, five tackles for losses and five passes defensed through 10 weeks. White is second with 63 tackles.

Starting cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry are excellent. Josiah Scott mans the slot. C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps are the safeties. Slay has three interceptions and, according to Pro Football Focus, has allowed a 43.1% completion rate and 41.2 passer rating.

Bradberry is practically a carbon copy with three interceptions, 43.1% and a 41.2 rating. Gardner-Johnson had five interceptions in three seasons with the Saints but has six in his debut season with Philly.

Special teams

In Football Outsiders’ rankings, Philadelphia ranked 24th and Green Bay is 30th.

Undrafted rookie receiver Britain Covey, one of the top returners in NCAA history while at Utah, handles kickoffs and punts. He’s found the NFL to be more difficult than the Pac-12. He’s averaging 6.5 yards per punt return and 20.6 yards per kickoff return.

Jake Elliott is the kicker. He’s 6-of-8 on field goals this season. In his sixth season, he’s 60.0% for his career from 50-plus yards.

Arryn Siposs is the punter. He’s averaging 46.3 yards per punt with a net average of 41.8. Opponents are averaging only 6.7 yards per return.

For the Packers, veteran receiver/punt returner Dede Westbrook, who signed to the practice squad last week, could make his debut.