The Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers are certainly going different directions early this season. The two teams meet Thursday at Lambeau Field. Philadelphia will be trying to get its second victory in four games, while Green Bay is seeking its fourth consecutive victory.
The Eagles won its opener, 32-27, over the winless Washington Redskins, but since that game, have dropped two straight. They lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 24-20, then last Sunday were defeated by the Detroit Lions, 27-24.
In the last two games the Eagles have let leads disappear in the fourth quarter, and ultimately couldn’t recover. Even worse for gamblers, Philadelphia hasn’t covered the spread the entire season.
They come to Green Bay as an underdog, something they haven’t experienced all season. The Eagles are five-point dogs against the Packers. The over/under is set at 45.5.
Philadelphia Coach Pederson Perplexed
Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson is at a loss as to why the Eagles are struggling. Pederson told reporters he doesn’t believe a complete overhaul is necessary.
“If we just do the right things … we’re standing here maybe 2-1 at least, or maybe 3-0,” Pederson said. “Injuries honestly is not what’s keeping us from winning these last two games.”
Pederson instead has preached about little details that have kept Philadelphia from winning.
“I talk a lot about ‘hold your focus.’ This game comes down to one-play-at-a-time mentality, and you have to be engaged on that play, maximum effort, maximum concentration,” Pederson said. “Sometimes when fatigue might set in or maybe you’re dealing with a nagging injury or something like that, it just draws from your attention.”
Green Bay Rolling
The Packers seem to be doing everything right. Before the season began, there was the appearance that quarterback Aaron Rodgers and first-year head coach Matt LaFleur were going to butt heads. The friction between the two appears to be exaggerated.
Of course, winning all three of your games helps. Green Bay’s offense has been outstanding. Rodgers doesn’t have to win a game with his arm. He has a quality rusher in running back Aaron Jones. The offensive line has also been upgraded, so when he does have to throw, there is more protection.
About the only blemish on the offense is tight end Jimmy Graham. The former News Orleans Saint, who is 32, has been mostly invisible from the offense. In three games, he has three catches for 30 yards. LaFleur takes the blame for the lack of production.
“I think we got to do a better job of putting (Graham) in a position to make plays,” LaFleur said. “I don’t think he’s gotten many opportunities and that falls on me.”
Defense Money Well Spent
If the defense keeps performing like it has the past three games that one area of the offense won’t matter. The Packers’ management made upgrading the defense a priority in the offseason.
They spent money on long-term deals on Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, and also have an improved secondary with Jaire Alexander and boosted by veteran Adrian Amos and rookie Darnell Savage.
Consider the Packers have four interceptions, and four recovered fumbles in three games. Against Denver the team had a +3, much to the delight of LaFleur.
“It really came down to the ball,” LaFleur said. “Being plus-3 in the turnover ratio, you’re going to set yourself up for a lot of wins if you can do that consistently.”