Three players who need to shine for a Week 13 Birds victory
The Eagles battle in week 13 is certainly of the uphill variety. At just 3-7-1, they will travel to Lambeau field to take on the 8-3 Green Bay Packers. They are heavy underdogs in the contest with sports books giving them a full nine points on the road. While Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are in position to challenge for the overall one seed in the entire NFC, the Birds are simply vying to claw their way back to the top of the NFC East in the hopes of a playoff spot.
A lot will need to go right for the Birds to have a shot at upsetting the Packers on Sunday. Below, we’ll take a look at three players in particular who need to play well above average for a victory to be realized.
After a return from injury, the last few weeks have not nearly been as productive for Miles Sanders as one would hope. Last week was actually Sanders’ least impressive game of the year as he only mustered 22 yards in total. Despite the down production, Sanders remains the Eagles most lethal offensive weapon and they’ll need him to step up in a big way for this matchup.
Working in Sanders’ favor is the fact that one of Green Bay’s few weaknesses is their run defense. Their defensive philosophy entails preventing big plays on the outside by encouraging the opposing offense to attack the middle through a series of short yardage gains. As a result, they are susceptible on the ground and recent weeks have proven as much with running backs such as James Robinson and Jonathan Taylor posting exemplary games against the Packers.
Miles Sanders hopes to be the next running back who sustains drives on the ground and keeps Green Bay’s defense on the field. If the Eagles can establish Sanders as a chunk rusher early, they will have a chance at winning time of possession, a crucial factor when playing a quarterback as historically great as Aaron Rodgers.
One positive takeaway from the Eagles week 12 loss was the proficient play of their defense. They’ll once again need that defense to show up in a big way in week 13, and no player on that unit has the ability to play bigger than their man in the middle, Fletcher Cox.
Fletcher Cox needs to be an absolute run-stuffer for the Eagles to stay in this game. While the Packers have long been lauded for their aerial attack, I think it’s more important for the Birds to curtail their rushing production for this game. The Packers utilize a 1-2 punch of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams on the ground, a devastating mix of agility and power. Once the Packers establish a competent rushing baseline, they will turn to play-action, where Aaron Rodgers has been making a living this year.
However, the Packer’s play-action designs won’t be effective if the Eagles can shut down their ground game from the get-go. This will be a team effort but one that Fletcher Cox should spearhead as the heart and soul of the Birds front seven.
Sigh. While it’s quite painful to write the same things week after week about Carson Wentz, the truth of the matter is that he is absolutely one of the players that needs to shine on Sunday for the Eagles to have a realistic shot at victory. The quarterback position is too important in today’s NFL and the Birds don’t possess the sort of team that can win with a game manager at quarterback.
Of course, tasking Wentz with the burden of being more than a game manager is plenty dangerous. He’s proven that game after game as he leads all quarterbacks in both interceptions and sacks taken. The threat of Hurts taking over as the starter looms ever large but I don’t see the change happening at this point in the season. Instead, Wentz has to be counted on.
I can’t envision an outcome where Wentz plays up to par with his counterpart, Rodgers, but the Birds need him to at least put together a respectable performance. I’m done wishing for a contest devoid of turnovers as I know he doesn’t have that in him, but Wentz needs to at least make enough plays, whether through the ground or air, to keep the score close.
Tight end Dallas Goedert emerged as an adequate target last game, but Wentz needs to also push the ball downfield and trust his receivers Travis Fulgham and Jalen Reagor. The Packers boast a fearsome secondary so nothing will come easy, but Wentz has nothing to lose at this point so he should come out guns blazing.