NFL Wild Card Preview: Eagles vs. Packers

| by Off The Record

The Green Bay Packers should win this game, both on paper and on the field. They have a solid defense, a more consistent offense at this point in the season, and a more reliable QB. Yes, Michael Vick has been nothing short of exceptional this season, but the last few weeks have provided some reason for concern.

That said, the game will be decided prior to Aaron Rodgers and Vick throwing a single pass. The front four of Philadelphia absolutely has to get pressure on Rodgers if they want a shot at advancing to play Chicago in the Divisional Round. That is where this game starts and ends. If given time, Rodgers has the ability to pick apart a secondary that will feature a journeyman veteran with little big game experience, a rookie 7th rounder, and an average safety with poor covering skills (that’s putting it lightly). Asante Samuel will man the other side of the field, but let’s be honest…the risks he takes are feast or famine.

Pressure busts pipes. It’s that simple. The Eagles will need to force Rodgers to deliver the ball quickly and avoid the big play down the field. If they can do that, the focus will then shift to Dimitri Patterson.

Like him or not, Patterson has had two contrasting halves with the birds in 2010. The first half he was a nice surprise that provided solid, not spectacular play. Dare I say his consistency even impressed at times? However, beginning with the Giants debacle turned miracle, Patterson has been shaky at best. He has lacked play making ability, often found himself out of position and simply been the target of opposing QBs.

If he can elevate his play and return to simply being solid, it will provide a nice boost to the Eagles defense. If not, a safety will be forced to shadow his side. The problem with that is Samuel takes too many risks on the other side not to have help over the top. Not to mention it limits what the Eagles can/can’t do in regards to blitz packages.

Pressure from the front four along with solid play from Patterson will put the Eagles in the driver’s seat. Easier said than done, but I’ll take my chances.