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Packers vs Eagles is the game I see going either way. Should be the best game of the weekend.
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The Packers D is one of the best I've seen. I saw a number of teams playing this season and I was very impressed by the overall team and the quality players they have on their roster.
They play tough and I think if Vick is contained, the Packers win. They definitely have the edge from a defensive standpoint.
However, Vick is the X-factor. If he plays as great as he did recently, when he demolished the Redskins, Vick is virtually unstoppable and can put a lot of points in a hurry. DeSean is another player to watch and if the Packers make a mistake in defending him, he will take it to the house as he's extraordinarily agile and quick - no Packer will be able to run him down once he gets going.
I love Dom Capers as a defensive coach. I was so excited when we brought him in, but his impact was never really felt. I love his defensive scheme and I think he will give Vick fits. He will throw a whole bunch of different looks at Vick, mix coverages, and get into some exotic blitzes. He'll have Vick off balance all day.
Philly will play right into Green Bay's hands with the way they refuse to consistently run the ball. Capers can just keep dialing up a bunch of different things. This Packers secondary is big and physical enough to get good jams on Desean and Maclin at the line.
I expect Green Bay to win and I currently like them to get to the SB in the NFC. I know they'd have to do it all on the road, but I love that defense, and they've got a QB and an offense that can get hot quick and score in bunches.
I still can't say who I think will win this game. I do think Green bay's lack of a running game is going to catch up them at some point.
Though Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy wouldn't fully commit to having defensive end Cullen Jenkins Sunday, the look on Jenkins' face told it all.
He'll be on the field Sunday when the Packers take on the Philadelphia Eagles in a wild-card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field.
Jenkins still doesn't know how he'll be used against the Eagles, whether he will be on a prescribed snap count or play just on passing downs. Jenkins said he's not taking on any added pressure to lift the defense because it has been succeeding without him for four weeks.
Jenkins' return could be a boon for linebacker Clay Matthews and nose tackle B.J. Raji, who have been seeing lots of double teams lately. Matthews described a situation against the New York Giants where he faced three blockers and Raji two on the same play.
Raji, who has emerged as a pass-rushing threat with Jenkins on the sideline - four sacks in his last five games - figures he can only benefit from having Jenkins around. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers will have the option of spreading out Matthews, Raji and Jenkins to create a single-team block somewhere or flood one side of the formation to cause someone to come free.
When Jenkins got hurt, he was coming off a stretch of three sacks in two games. He had just begun to play without a club around the hand he broke on the second play of the opener against the Eagles Sept. 12. It has been such a long time since he has played that while putting his gloves on before practice, he realized the fingers were still taped up.
Erik Walden won't be able to sneak up on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Not after the free-agent linebacker's coming-out party in the regular-season finale, in which he racked up 16 tackles and sacked Jay Cutler three times in the Green Bay Packers' 10-3 victory over the Chicago Bears.
The Eagles undoubtedly have isolated Walden in film study as they prepare to play host to the Packers in an NFC wild-card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
The strength of the Packers' defense, which allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL, is its versatility. Coordinator Dom Capers is superb at disguising coverages, blitzing creatively and avoiding tendencies, which makes it difficult to prepare for his defenses.
He also has an uncanny knack for putting players in positions to succeed. Exhibit A is linebacker Erik Walden, a street free agent signee who earned NFC defensive player of the week honors for his 16-tackle, three-sack performance against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
"The thing I like most about Dom is not only his week-to-week adjustments but his daily adjustments," said nose tackle B.J. Raji. "Like today we had practice and tomorrow he'll come back with some new things that he thinks will work a little bit better."
The Packers aren't going to give away their game plan, but it's safe to say they want to keep Vick in the pocket and get some hits on him.
"If we have zero sacks but can force him to stay in the pocket, I think it's a win for us," Matthews said. "It's difficult. You have to keep your rush-lane integrity and not get too high or too low because he can make plays with his feet."
Said Walden, "You can't just let him sit there. I'd rather him make throws in the pocket than outside the pocket, where he's got a run-pass option."
Green Bay might borrow a page from the Minnesota Vikings, who blitzed Vick relentlessly two weeks ago and came away with a 24-14 upset victory.
The measure of a man who covers NFL wide receivers for a living usually comes down to all those statistics cornerbacks prefer to ignore.
You know, the ones that end in "allowed."
By those negative standards - things like touchdowns, completions, 20-yard gains and yards after the catch - Green Bay Packers rookie Sam Shields stacks up pretty well with guys around the league who have played as many snaps as he has.
The part that can't be found in any database for the 2010 season is the effect the undrafted Shields has had on the players and coaches around him.
Say what you will about the tremendous impact veteran corner Charles Woodson has had blitzing and playing the run from his slot position or the numerous ways safety Nick Collins has been used in the Packers' highly ranked defense. But without Shields playing years beyond his boyish 23-year-old looks, the Packers aren't the same team.
If there's a major difference between the defense that entered the playoffs last year and the one the Packers hope is markedly better when it faces Philadelphia on Sunday in a wild-card playoff game, it's having three reliable cornerbacks.
INVITING TARGET: At midweek, coach Andy Reid announced that he was going back to Dimitri Patterson at RC after benching him at halftime in Week 15 against Minnesota for poor play. "He's a mess," an executive in personnel for a recent Eagles opponent said. "Lot of breakdowns. Just lacks speed. Can't recover. Best underneath in zones. He's a liability on an island. Plays very soft. When they're in single high coverage he gives up a lot of underneath routes. He will bite on double moves." Another scout called him a "terrible" player that the Vikings abused. "He is quick to support the run and he has four interceptions," a third scout said. "If you were playing a true Cover 2 where you jam the receiver and support the run and he has a short zone, he'd be a productive starter. But athletically, at the top of routes, he doesn't match up with elite speed."
I don't know if the winds are going to change during the game, but it's clear right now that it's a lot more difficult kicking toward the north end zone (it would be to the left if you were facing the Packers' sideline).
Eagles kicker David Akers has a powerful leg and is one of the most accurate guys in the league and kicking to the north, he missed three of four from 48 yards. One hit the left upright and the other two sent wide right. You can see the flags atop the goal posts on that end blowing around pretty wildly.
On the other end, the flags aren't moving at all and Akers was kicking 58-yarders well beyond the end zone. From my angle in the press box, I couldn't tell whether the kicks were good or not, but he was getting very good distance.
Also, watching K Mason Crosby warm-up, you could see he was getting very good distance kicking off to the south end zone.