It’s not often that the Green Bay Packers experience a free fall as December approaches. At this time, they’re typically being discussed as Super Bowl contenders with their eyes set on the playoffs.
Not this season.
The Packers are 4-6 and are rapidly watching their postseason hopes go by the wayside thanks to their struggling defense and an offense that fails to generate points with any sort of consistency. Yes, Aaron Rodgers has been worse than we expected, and yes, they’ve dealt with a handful of crushing injuries, but the NFL doesn’t care for excuses. The Packers need wins in the worst way possible, having lost four straight entering Monday night's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Will they get a much-needed victory? No, and here’s why.
Carson Wentz is facing a reeling defense
The Eagles' rookie QB has struggled in recent weeks. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that he’s faced the Seahawks, Falcons, Giants and Vikings in four of his last five games, but his numbers have been mediocre against even average defenses. Wentz will get a bit of a break on Monday night against the Packers, who as it stands, have a below-average defense. They’re 29th in points allowed and 17th in yards allowed and are allowing the ninth-most passing yards per game. In the past four weeks, they’ve allowed an average of 420 total yards per game, which is atrocious.
The pass rush has been decent this season, recording 24 sacks in 10 games, but most of that has come from one guy: Nick Perry. He has seven of the 24, and if the Eagles can get him under control, they’ll be in good shape. The Packers have had two sacks in each of the last four games, but that’s far from a dominant trend. They’ll need to get significant pressure on Wentz up the middle to have any shot at creating turnovers, and that’s not likely to happen.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY SportsEric Hartline
Green Bay’s secondary is depleted
The biggest weakness of Green Bay’s defense is the secondary. Sam Shields is out for the year, Damarious Randall hasn’t played since Oct. 16, and Quinten Rollins has struggled mightily this season. The Packers gave up four 50-yard plays in the fourth quarter against the Redskins last week, which is concerning in its own right. Now take into account that no team had allowed that many in the fourth quarter all season.
Wentz doesn’t throw it downfield all that often, but he certainly has the arm to do so when called upon. Doug Pederson will see that weakness in the Packers’ defense and take shots deep, knowing they’re vulnerable to big plays. Wentz hasn’t faced a secondary as bad as this one since he hung 301 yards on the Steelers in Week 3, posting a career-high passer rating of 125.9.
Ray Carlin-USA TODAY SportsRaymond Carlin III
The Packers' receivers don’t get separation
Much of the blame this season has been put on Aaron Rodgers, and that’s warranted to a point. However, he’s far from the Packers’ biggest issue on offense. His receivers simply don’t get any separation from defensive backs, which tightens the windows Rodgers has to throw into. It makes it difficult for him to complete passes, even on throws that he routinely makes. The Eagles don’t have an elite secondary by any means, but their defensive backs are versatile. Malcolm Jenkins is physical in the slot and can match up well with whichever receiver comes into his area. Leodis McKelvin is healthy after exiting last week’s game with a concussion, and rookie Jalen Mills will continue to see time at corner. It doesn’t take a top-flight corner to make Rodgers’ throwing windows smaller, and the Eagles will prove that Monday.
The Eagles will shut down the Packers’ run game
The Packers are 26th in the league in rushing, tallying just 1,006 yards on the year. The Eagles, on the other hand, are 10th against the run, allowing 1,057 yards this season. Obviously, this doesn’t bode well for the Packers’ struggling ground attack, particularly with Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan in the middle.
Packers offensive linemen J.C. Tretter and T.J. Lang both will be out Monday night, meaning blocking Cox and Logan will be a tall task for the Packers’ backup linemen. They will pose a serious threat to the Packers’ lackluster ground attack, which will make Green Bay one-dimensional on offense, as it has been all season. James Starks doesn’t scare opposing defenses, and Christine Michael isn’t certain to have much of an impact for the Packers in his second week with the team.
Associated PressAlex Brandon
The game is in Philadelphia
Only two teams in the NFL are undefeated at home this season: the Seahawks and the Eagles. It’s surprising, but it’s absolutely true, and it’s mostly thanks to Philadelphia's stellar defense at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles have allowed just three touchdowns at home this season, one on the ground and two through the air. That trend will continue against the Packers’ sputtering offense, particularly when playing on the road.
Rodgers and the Packers are 1-4 away from Lambeau this season. Rodgers has similar numbers at home and on the road, but one number stands out: sacks. He’s been sacked twice as much on the road (16 to eight) this season, which obviously impacts his play. He’ll have to deal with Conor Barwin, Brandon Graham and Cox on Monday night, which won’t help that concerning split to say the least.