The Eagles didn’t even watch their tape from the loss to the Lions on Sunday. They needed this short week to prepare for the Packers.
As the Eagles limp into Lambeau with a 1-2 record, the Packers (3-0) are waiting for them.
The Eagles have lost their last two games to the Packers and are 1-4 in their last five against them. Their last win was actually in Green Bay on Nov. 10, 2013.
Here are five matchups to watch in Thursday’s game:
Lane Johnson vs. Preston Smith
This is a weekly theme, but Johnson normally has the other team’s best pass rusher. In this case, he’ll see Smith, who is third in the NFL with 4 1/2 sacks. Smith has twice had eight-sack seasons and now he’s on pace for his first double digit sack season and he’s doing it with a new team. The Eagles have seen plenty of Smith before from his four years in Washington, but it looks like he’s playing at an even higher level right now. He has more than double the Eagles’ team total in sacks through three games. Heck, he had a three-sack game against Denver last week; that game alone topples the Eagles’ total through three games.
Eagles WRs vs. Packers improved secondary
Alshon Jeffery will play, but this is a much-improved Packers secondary. The starting four of Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Adrian Amos and rookie Darnell Savage is off to a tremendous start. The Packers have given up 592 passing yards this season, good for fifth-fewest in the NFL. The Vikings’ offense, with Adam Thielen and Stefan Diggs, failed to get over 200 yards passing and that was after they trailed 14-0 after one quarter. At least the Eagles will have a chance with Alshon in the lineup.
Packers’ OL vs. Eagles’ DL
The Packers boast one of the better tackle duos in the league and it starts with their left tackle David Bakhtiari, who was an All-Pro last season. Bryan Bulaga has a shoulder injury, but should play on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ edge rushers don’t have a sack between them this season and really struggled to get pressure against the Lions. They need more from Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham.
Bakhtiari and Bulaga have faced a murderers row in the last three games: Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Against those six pass rushers, the Packers gave up just three sacks. Facing Graham and Barnett might feel like a walk in the park for them.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on Fletcher Cox against the middle of the Packers’ offensive line that has some new faces. Their starting left guard is second-round pick Elgton Jenkins and their starting right guard is free agent pickup Billy Turner.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs. Eagles’ corners
Davante Adams is the Packers’ best receiver but Valdes-Scantling is their speed threat. He’s averaging just over 13 yards per reception, but has the ability to stretch the field and make big plays. Big plays have killed the Eagles in recent years. Valdes-Scantling is coming off a six-catch, 99-yard performance in Week 3. Since the start of the 2018 season, Valdes-Scantling leads the Packers with six catches of 40-plus yards.
A fifth-round pick last season, Valdes-Scantling ran a 4.37 time in the 40-yard dash at the combine, good for second-fastest among all receivers tested. And after last week’s game, Aaron Rodgers said the young receiver is playing to his timed speed.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Eagles’ defense
Guess who leads the league in time to throw? Yup, on average, according to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Aaron Rodgers has taken 3.06 seconds to throw the football. Some of that is protection, some of that is Rodgers’ ability to buy time. Either way, this means the Eagles’ cornerbacks will have to cover for long periods of time. So this could be a big test for Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones. But the secondary works in conjunction with the pass rush, so pressure would help out the back end a ton.
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