- Miles Sanders and Darren Sproles should be targeted on early downs
- A key to this matchup will be third down throws by Rodgers against the PHI D
- Thursday night home favorites don’t have the same advantage early in a season
Philadelphia Offense vs Green Bay Defense:
- Carson Wentz likes to spread the ball around, but he clearly has an affinity throwing to TEs, especially Zach Ertz.
- Ertz leads the Eagles in targets at 29. He also leads the team in red zone targets with 8.
- Ertz has 5 receptions in the red zone but none for TDs yet. Eventually, those red zone targets will translate into TDs.
- Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Green Bay defense has allowed the ninth-lowest success rate allowed to TEs and they rank third-best, allowing only 4.7 yards per attempt to TEs.
- Important to note the TEs this Packers defense has faced so far is Noah Fant, Kyle Rudolph. and Adam Sheehan. Not exactly murderers’ row and those TEs have combined to catch only 11 total balls in the six other games they have played outside of Green Bay. It will be interesting to see what happens when they get tested by Ertz.
- The Eagles are definitely missing the deep threat of DeSean Jackson. When the offense was struggling in the opener against the Redskins, it was two deep TD passes to Jackson, which helped open up the game. Unfortunately, Jackson is out again this week and the Eagles will need another WR to step up. The Green Bay defense is 10th best in deep ball success rate allowed. The return of Alshon Jeffery tonight is a huge plus for the Eagles.
- The Packers have been susceptible to targets to RBs out of the backfield. They have allowed the largest target share to RBs in the NFL this season, at 32%, and are 21stt in success rate allowed. Last week Philip Lindsay caught four passes for 49 yards against the Packers.
- The Packers defense has allowed an incredible 42% target share to RBs on first downs.
- Miles Sanders caught two balls last week on four targets for 73 yards.
- Darren Sproles was in on only 36% of the Eagles snaps last week and did not catch a pass.
- The Eagles have only targeted RBs out of the backfield on first down only 5 times this season but are No. 1 in the NFL with an 11.0 yards per attempt figure. Tiny sample, of course, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wentz take the dump-offs to Sanders and Sproles on early downs often tonight.
- The Packers defense does rank 26th in success rate defending the run. The Eagles are 19th in the percentage of run plays in games with a score differential of 10 or less.
- An appetite of targets to RBs out of the backfield on early downs should open up the run game on short-yardage second and third downs.
Green Bay Offense vs Philadelphia Defense:
- Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense have really struggled this season. The Packers rank 29th in offensive drive success rate and have the second most 3-and-outs per drive in the NFL, even more than the Dolphins.
- The Eagles defense has allowed the 10th most 3-and-outs per drive in the NFL.
- Rodgers has spread the ball around pretty well, in general, although the Packers are 32nd in success rate to TEs. Rodgers is eighth in success rate and seventh in yards per attempt to RBs out of the backfield.
- The Eagles defense has essentially defended most positions well so far this season. They have allowed 6.7 yards per attempt to RBs but have allowed the seventh-lowest success rate to RBs.
- Where the Eagles defense has struggled is defending the pass overall. They rank 22nd in DVOA pass defense. The Eagles are 20th in defending No. 1 WRs, according to DVOA, so eliminating third down passes to Davante Adams should be a top priority for Philadelphia on defense to get off of the field.
- Specifically, the Eagles have really struggled to stop offenses on third and fourth downs through the air. They rank 29th in DVOA pass defense on third and fourth downs.
- The Packers will try and lean on Aaron Jones and the run game, but the Eagles are seventh in success rate on the ground and have only allowed three explosive plays in the run game.
- Where the Packers offense has excelled is scoring in the red zone. They are No. 1 in the NFL in TDs per red zone trip and have scored a TD on every opportunity. The Eagles are 11th best in allowing red zone TDs.
ATS Side I like tonight: Philadelphia +4 -110 (5dimes):
You will hear many in the national media call this a “must-win” game for the Eagles. That is not entirely accurate when you consider the Eagles get to face the Giants twice, the Redskins twice, as well as the Dolphins once all in a row to end the season. As long as the Eagles can stay within a game or two of .500 prior to Week 13, they should be in a good position to still make the playoffs. However, it would be nice for the Eagles to win a big game against a good opponent like the Packers tonight.
As noted above, the Packers’ 3-0 start has really come down to leading the NFL in turnover margin as well as playing excellent defense. They have forced seven turnovers in three games and have the eighth-best field position to start drives in the NFL. Turnovers forced, good defense, and short fields have been the recipe for the 3-0 Packers start. Unfortunately for the Packers, Carson Wentz is by far the best quarterback they have had to face to date. When you face Joe Flacco, Kirk Cousins, and Mitchell Trubisky, you already have a head start. The Eagles will be a totally different animal on offense.
To me, this spread should be Green Bay (-3) and the extra point in the line comes from the history of home favorites covering on Thursday nights as well as the Eagles starting 0-3 ats and the Packers 3-0. So far this year all three underdogs have covered and won outright on Thursday night. Historically, home favorites on Thursday nights have performed much better later in the season as injuries start piling up.
Looking at the last five seasons, home favorites have won 58% of their games in the first 6 weeks of the season on Thursday night and have gone 9-9-1 ats (50%). After Week 6, home favorites have won 86% of those games and are 20-8-1 ats (71%).