NFL Week One: Eagles vs. Packers
PHI: 2009 record – 11-5
GB: 2009 record – 11-5
Spread: Green Bay by 3
Where: Lincoln Financial Field
When: Sunday, 4:15 PM on FOX
Last time met: Sept. 9, 2007 – Brett Favre went 23 of 42 for only 206 yards but led the Packers to a game winning field goal in a 16-13 win.
Last Week: Eagles wrapped up the preseason with a 21-17 loss to the Jets and the Packers lost to the Chiefs 17-13 in their final preseason game.
Best case scenario: The Eagles start off the Kevin Kolb era in a high note. The third-year quarterback but first-year starter will throw over 250 yards and two touch downs. DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek each catch a TD pass and LeSean McCoy gains over 100 yards from scrimmage.
Worst case scenario: It’s an ugly debut for Kolb. Kolb throws a couple of interceptions and can’t find the endzone in the air as the Packers stingy defense rolls over the Eagle in a blow-out season opener.
Opposing player to watch – QB Aaron Rodgers: Seeing as there have already been comparisons between he and Kolb, I figured he would be the ideal player on the Packers to watch. He’s a top three quarterback in the NFL and his the leader on a high powered offense that also features RB Ryan Grant and WRs Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Last season, Rodgers threw for 4,434 yards and 30 TDs while only being picked off seven times. He compiled a passer rating of 103.2, the fourth highest in the NFL.
Offenses: The Eagles have revamped their offense with a cast of young players. Kolb is in his first year as starting quarterback so it isn’t known how well he will do Sunday. This is also the first season McCoy is the feature back in the offense. He’s backed up by Mike Bell, who can with stand a pounding and take the short-yardage and hard carries. Kolb has one of the best receiving corps in the NFL with Jackson, Maclin, Jason Avant, and Brent Celek. How everyone around Kolb does with be the key to his success.
Rodgers is the leader on the Packers offense. But he isn’t alone as Grant is arguably a top-five running back in the NFL. He’s backed up by Brandon Jackson, a very tough runner like Bell. Jennings and Driver have been a great tandem for the past four years. Jermichael Finley is turning into a very good tight end and MLB Stewart Bradley will have his hands full up the middle with him.
Advantage: Packers have the edge for experience and chemistry.
Defenses: The Eagles have one of the best defenses in the NFL thanks to their deep line, rotating door of reliable line backers, and ball-stealing secondary. Asante Samuel is the thief in the backfield. He led the NFL with nine interceptions with three others and could do the same damage this season. Bradley heads a line backing corps that will again be in heavy rotation to stay fresh. On the ends are Trent Cole and rookie Brandon Graham, a fast and scary duo. Expect Juqua Parker to get a lot of reps as Graham can move into the middle on passing situations.
The Packers have a devastating defense of their own. They feature a 3-4 defense with upcoming NT B.J. Raji smack-dab in the middle and Cullen Jenkins at the end. The LB corps is one of the best in the NFL with Clay Matthews, A.J. Hawk, and bruiser Nick Barnett. Charles Woodson and Nick Collins bolster a very strong secondary.
Advantage: Eagles have a slight edge. Pass rushing will be key against Rodgers.
Eagles: no injuries.
Packers: few guys are banged up but all will play.
Prediction: Kolb will stumble in his first action of the season as the Packers win a tight one, 20-16.