Two 10-6 teams face each other in the Sunday afternoon (4:30 PM on Fox) NFC Wild Card Playoff. The Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles lock horns in a week 1 rematch under much different circumstances this time around.
Lately Green Bay has had the hotter hand with two wins against formidable teams to end the year as Philadelphia dropped their last two to less than stellar Dallas and Minnesota squads. The last two losses suffered by the Packers came against the Detroit Lions and the New England Patriots with backup QB Matt Flynn at the helm for Green Bay. During the first game of the season against these two contenders, another "backup" got the start for Philadelphia.
Kevin Kolb (115-189, 1,197 yards, 7 TDs, 7 Int.) was Eagles' Coach Andy Reid's go to guy at the beginning of the season. Michael Vick (233-372, 3,018 yards, 21 TDs, 6 Int., 676 rushing yards and 9 rushing TDs) with all his controversial baggage was thrust into the starting role and stood out so much he got a new nickname: "Starship 7." He put together a phenomenal season, incredible numbers, and got it done with his feet when he had to. Yet, lately Vick's not getting it done at all while his adversary is coming off two excellent games under center.
Aaron Rodgers (312-475, 3,922 yards, 28 TDs, 11 Int.) looked better than ever in back to back wins against the Giants and Bears to close the season. Coming back from a two-week hiatus due to a concussion, Rodgers threw for 5 touchdowns and just one interception in those two games. The rushing ability of Rodgers is also significant. Despite missing a few games Rodgers still has 356 yards and 4 touchdowns running the ball.
If Vick is contained, the Eagles will have to rely on the rushing of LeSean McCoy (1,080 yards, 7 TDs). No other back on the team has more than one touchdown. Green Bay's rushing game is much more formidable. Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn may have only 7 combined TDs, but they are a potent tandem. Jackson leads the team with 703 yards and three touchdowns. Kuhn is the power back with 281 yards and four touchdowns. When the Packers need someone to punch it in, Kuhn is the easy choice. These two backs have incredibly different styles, and both put together create mass confusion for opposing defenses. It's the work of these backs that makes Rodgers even more potent at QB because teams have to always respect the run against Green Bay.
Defensively, the Eagles can be very dangerous. Off-season deals with the Patriots resulted in a strengthened secondary through adding Assante Samuel and Ellis Hobbs. Defensive End Trent Cole leads the team with 10 sacks. Cornerback Dimitri Patterson comes into this game with 4 interceptions on the season. Still, this squad typically relies on a great job done by the offense and only had one game this year where they gave up less than 14 points.
The Packers come in with the better overall team and the more potent defensive unit. Cornerback Charles Woodson is the star of this squad with 92 tackles on the year, 2 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions. OLB Clay Matthews is the sack leader on the team and is 4th in the league in that category with 13.5. He also has 2 forced fumbles and an interception. Defensive End Cullen Jenkins has 7 sacks on the year on only 18 tackles total. This is a team that spreads the defensive duties around. They've had 6 games this year in which they held their opponents to under 14 points. They even managed a shutout against the New York Jets in week 8, winning by 3 field goals.
Green Bay wins this game on paper, but as the latest "Miracle in the Meadowlands" showed us, the Eagles can't be counted out. Still, the Packers have the better team to weather this playoff storm. Michael Vick has been rattled in recent weeks, and the Packers have even more potent weapons with which to rattle him even further this week. Rodgers is back in fine form and ready for a run at the Super Bowl. The Eagles are just too sloppy and out of any real momentum to stop him and the Green Bay offense from running up the score in this one.
Look for Vick to struggle early and the Packers and Rodgers to come out swinging. This game will show the perfect balance of rushing and passing in Green Bay's favor. The Packers should win by two touchdowns or more.