Previewing Packers and Eagles Wild-Card Match-Up

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The Green Bay Packers will kick off the playoffs in the same way they started the regular season and that’s at Lincoln Financial Field against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Sunday’s game should shape up to be a epic battle between two of the best teams in the last decade as the Packers (10-6) and Eagles (10-6) are the only two teams in the NFC to make the playoffs in three of the last four seasons.

The Packers can only hope the NFC Wild Card contest ends with a similar result to their 27-20 win against the Eagles in week one. That was the first time the Packers beat the Eagles in Philadelphia since 1962, breaking a streak of nine-straight losses.

Can the Packers win in Philly again?

By: Nick Grays


Packers Season In Review (Brief Version): After Ryan Grant went down with a season-ending injury in week one, the dominoes began to fall as injury-after-injury sent significant Packers to the IR. At one point, fans weren’t sure what else could go wrong? After a few more heart-wrenching losses, including a 7-3 loss to the Detroit Lions, the Packers looked like they were down and out. But, with some help and great play from Aaron Rodgers, the Packers won their last two games to sneak into the #6 seed in the NFC playoffs.

Eagles Season In Review (Brief Version): QB Kevin Kolb started the season as the new starter in Philly after the team traded long-time Eagle Donovan McNabb to the rival Redskins. Who knew both of them would be on the bench by season’s end? It was all good in the city of Brotherly Love as Michael Vick burst onto the scene with arguably the best sports story ever (can’t wait for the movie). After taking the league by storm, the Eagles won six of seven games, none bigger than a pivotal win versus the Giants in week 15 that DeSean Jackson won on a punt return as time expired. Even with the meltdown from the hated Giants, the Eagles weren’t able to take out the Vikings the next week and were forced to limp into the playoffs with the #3 seed.

Packers Players to Watch (not named Aaron Rodgers):
WR James Jones and CB Charles Woodson

Everyone and their mother knows the Packers are going to pass the ball. With Greg Jennings and Donald Driver drawing all the coverage from the Eagles, it leaves the field wide open for Aaron Rodgers to get it to guys like Jordy Nelson or James Jones. Jones is specifically dangerous because when he wants to catch the ball, he has the skill-set of a number two receiver.

Not only is Charles Woodson known for his aggressive pass coverage and unique ability to strip the ball, but his relentless pressure on opposing quarterbacks should also be noted. I expect Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers to put together packages which feature Woodson chasing Vick around the field.

Eagles Players to Watch (not named Michael Vick):
RB LeSean McCoy and CB Asante Samuel

The Achilles heal of the Packers defense has been their inability to stop opposing running backs while giving up almost 115 yards per game. Not only can Vick run the ball, but McCoy is also pretty good at it. McCoy has 1,080 yards on the ground and another 592 through the air. With all the attention on Vick, I wouldn’t be surprised if McCoy breaks off a couple of big runs on the day.

If you didn’t know who Clay Matthews competition for Defensive Player of the Year was, you haven’t been watching because Asante Samuel has been downright nasty in 2010. Despite dealing with a knee injury all season long, the eight-year veteran had seven interceptions in only 11 games. Four of those picks came against these two guys with the last name Manning. Rodgers beware.

Key Match-Up: LB Clay Matthews vs. QB Michael Vick

We can avoid talking about Michael Vick all we want, but we all know he is the key to the game on Sunday. If the Packers can limit what he does, they will have a chance to win this game.

The Packers defense have played their best football in the last couple of weeks and that’s in much thanks to defensive player of the year candidate Clay Matthews. He combined for three sacks (one of them knocking out Kevin Kolb) in week one and stuffed Vick on a critical 4th and 1 to seal the win for the Packers back in September. Expect Clay to play to the occasion once again.

Final Word: This should be a great match-up, if not the best of the NFL’s slate of games this weekend. I’m not going to put a specific prediction on the game, but I will say that the winner of this game will make it to the NFC Championship Game and perhaps the Super Bowl.

Who do you think wins this match-up between Rodgers’ Packers and Vicks’ Eagles? Does the winner have a good shot at making a run for the Super Bowl? Let me know by commenting below!

Follow Nick Grays on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.

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