Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Packers (5-6) End Losing Streak, Beat Eagles in Philly, 27-13

The Green Bay Packers entered their Monday night game on a four game losing streak. The Eagles were ranked No. 2 overall in DVOA according to Football Outsiders and were far and away the best team at home this season. So, of course, the Packers were in control for the entire game and cruised to a 27-13 victory. Unfortunately there were a couple of dark clouds.
And LB Clay Matthews injured his shoulder. He's not the same player anymore but with all the injuries at ILB (both Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez missed this game) it would be a huge loss if he couldn't play next week. I'd think Rodgers's hamstring injury would have to be very bad for him to miss any playing time, but it should limit his ability to run as he had been doing all season.

This might have been the offense's best game of the season, though they still can't run the ball (even with their 1st rushing TD from a running back). Rookie RG Jason Spriggs had his first NFL start in place of T.J. Lang, and he was asked to take on All Pro DT Fletcher Cox. He struggled, he was pushed deep into the backfield on multiple plays and Cox got free on a stunt that led to a personal foul, but later in the game C Corey Linsley started helping on double-teams. I was ready to give up on WR Davante Adams after the first three weeks but he keeps getting better as the season goes on, though he still doesn't have the break out speed to separate on deep routes. RB Christine Michael was only in for a few snaps and the sooner he can earn the trust of the offensive coaches for more playing time, the better. Considering how well the Eagles's defense has been this season, this was a spectacular game for the offense.

The defense wasn't epic (13 points, 292 yards allowed) but it looked epic in comparison to what's been on the field over the past four weeks. During that four game slide, they faced three Top 10 pass offenses, according to Football Outsiders (Falcons #3, Redskins #6, Titans #8), and all three shredded them. Their loss to the Colts will stand out all season long as one in which they just didn't show up as a team, but those three road games, against top pass offenses while their own secondary was dealing with injuries, was a disaster. The return of CB Damarious Randall helped, but the Eagles were missing a bunch of skill players (RB Ryan Mathews, WR Nelson Agholor; WR Jordan Matthews was injured during the game) and turned a weak offense into a toothless one.

The Eagles entered this game ranked No. 22 overall in pass offense according to Football Outsiders. The Packers' remaining opponents (Texans-No. 32, Seahawks-No. 7, Bears-No. 21, Vikings-No. 14, Lions-No. 9) don't have nearly the passing firepower as the Falcons, Redskins and Titans. The Seahawks remain a tough match-up, but the Seahawks and Eagles are ranked about the same by DVOA (No. 1 and No. 2 according to Football Outsiders entering this week) and the Packers were in control for nearly the entire game in Philly. There's no reason they can't do it again in two weeks against the Seahawks in Lambeau. While the Vikings and Lions present some problems, the fact that neither of those teams can run the ball at all is a big help.
It's not likely that they'll actually win out and finish 10-6 but their win over the Eagles showed it's possible. One step at a time, beat the Texans next week and we'll see.

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