Monday Night’s game against the Packers will mark an important point in the season for the Philadelphia Eagles. Doug Pederson may be 5-5 as a Head Coach, but his team are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. A win against Green Bay would certainly boost their chances, but will the Packers fight back after losing four consecutive games?
We’re now 16/40 this season in our bold predictions series, falling slightly behind where we’re aiming for. But like the Eagles, we’re taking it one game at a time. Here are this weeks five bold predictions.
Attacking the heart:
The Packers may be struggling this season, but Aaron Rodgers is a man who isn’t..on the field at least. The veteran QB has thrown for at least 350 yards in his last two games, finding the endzone five times and throwing two picks. But the Eagles Defense will pose a much bigger threat than the Redskins or Titans.
A ruthless pass rush will no doubt keep Rodgers on his toes, but its the linebackers and cornerbacks who could have the biggest role to play here. If the Eagles can eliminate the run game and force Rodgers into awkward throws downfield, then they have every chance of upsetting the odds once again.
Our first bold prediction is for the Eagles Defense to hold Rodgers to under 260 yards passing and force two turnovers.
Smallwood comes up big:
With Ryan Mathews sideline, the Eagles will be turning to the duo of Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood to carry the load, considering that Darren Sproles is still battling a broken rib.
The Packers have surrendered over 100 rushing yards in each of their last six games and we’ve already seen how dominant the Eagles can be in terms of Time Of Possession when they can balance the Offense and establish a rushing threat.
Smallwood has carried the ball 13 times in both of his last two games, but with the Eagles likely leaning on him to help give the Offense a spark on the ground, I’m predicting that Smallwood will carry the ball at least 15 times for 75 yards and a touchdown.
Turner turns heads:
The has been a lot of speculation around the debut of preseason standout Paul Turner. The Eagles wide receiver struck up quite the rapport with Carson Wentz against the Bucs and was targeted more than any other receiver. Wentz was often working with Turner during OTA’s and Training Camp..which could play dividends on Monday Night.
Just like Mark Sanchez had a favorite target as an Eagle due to chemistry he established during the offseason, Carson Wentz will be very familiar with Turner’s skill set, giving him another weapon in the slot if needed. As the team grows, this is the kind of move that can turn a good Offense into a great one.
We’ve already seen the effect Bryce Treggs had in his debut as a wild unknown..and Mike McCarthy’s Defense could be in for a surprise or two if Turner sees a bulk of playing time.
If Nelson Agholor is indeed benched or sees a reduced role, it could pave the way for yet another big wide receiver debut. We’re predicting Paul Turner catches at least 4 passes on Monday Night for 50 yards.
The pass rush resurges:
Just like Seattle, the Green Bay Packers have a weakened Offensive line coming into this game. This time however, things have to be different. The Eagles failed to break down the walls of CenturyLink field, allowing Russell Wilson to escape outside and often turn a dead play into a score or huge conversion. His athleticism is remarkable..but Aaron Rodgers is no stranger to making big plays with his legs.
The Eagles simply have to set the edge better and collapse the pocket on Monday Night, marginalizing Aaron Rodgers and forcing him to stay in the pocket.
Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Bennie Logan will all be pivotal in containing Aaron Rodgers..but at home, the Eagles are playing with a newfound energy and should be able to keep the Packers relatively quiet.
Our fourth bold prediction is for the Eagles to hit Aaron Rodgers 10 times and sacking him four.
Wounded O-Line shows character:
The Eagles Offensive line suffered yet another setback this week, with Halapoulivaati Vaitai sustaining an injury that will sideline him for the next few weeks. Barbre will shift to the vacant RT spot while Wisniewski will fill in at LG.
Strangely, one of the projected weaknesses this season has become a monumental strength. Without Johnson, the Eagles O-Line has held strong against the likes of Seattle and Washington, creating opportunities for the run game and helping protect prized quarterback, Carson Wentz in his rookie year.
The final bold prediction for this week is for the Eagles to hold the Packers to less than five QB hits and just one sack.
Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports