Eagles-Packers Preview: Part 4

Coaching

All season, the Eagles have predictably started games the same way. Vick fakes a handoff to LeSean McCoy, rolls out and fires the ball downfield to DeSean Jackson. The last time it worked was against the Redskins. Now, teams are prepared for that early strike so let’s see if the Eagles coaching staff comes up with something special this week. Maybe a draw to McCoy, a flea-flicker, a reverse, a Vick run, DeSean passing the ball. Something different.

Here are the keys for the coaching staff to ensure they “put players in position to make plays” this Sunday:

* Clock Management: This has not been a particular problem this season, but it’s that time of year when you need those timeouts. Andy Reid has to use his challenges wisely and manage the clock well so that if they need timeouts at the end of the half or game, they’ll be there 

* Run-Pass Ratio: As was mentioned earlier, the Packers are fifth against the pass and 18th against the run. The Eagles are top 10 in rushing yards per game this season. I’d like to see them get LeSean McCoy just a few more touches—he is probably the least banged-up player on the team, and I suspect there is a method to the madness in not utilizing him as heavily down the stretch. Expect to see a heavy dose of the Eagles running game this week

* On defense, Shawn McDermott has to show that he can dial up the blitz in effective ways. It seems like every time they send six or seven guys, they get burned. I’d like to see them disguise those a little bit better and even back out into coverage to try to confuse Aaron Rodgers

Overall, I think these two teams are evenly matched and this game comes down to turnovers and field position. If Michael Vick can protect the football better than he has been, and the defense can create a few big plays of their own, the Eagles will be in position to advance to the divisional round of the playoffs.

The Pick

So as an Eagles fan, I desperately want to pick the Eagles.  It wouldn’t be a huge mistake to go with them (they are favored by Vegas).  The problem I have is that the Packers are healthier and playing better than the Eagles going into this game.  My feeling is that the Packers are going to win a tight game that will go back and forth with both teams having a shot in the fourth quarter.  Packers 30, Eagles 24.

With that said, what are your predictions for this Sunday’s game?

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