Earlier this season, I spoke with Brian Carriveau of CheeseHeadTV.com about the Eagles and Packers matchup in Week 1. Little did we know that the teams would meet again in the first round of the playoffs.
Both teams look different then they did the first time, and both teams have faced a lot of adversity with injuries this season.
This week I spoke with Brian again, and talked with him about Sunday’s matchup. I asked him what differences will see out of the Packers this time around as well as asking him what role we’d see Clay Matthews play during the game. Brian also weighed in on where both teams will have an advantage on Sunday and gave us an interesting x-factor to watch.
In the end, Brian gives us his final prediction on the outcome of the game.
BirdsFan: It’s been a long time since the Packers and Eagles played this season. What are the biggest differences between the Packers in Week 1 and the Packers now?
CheeseHeadTV: The biggest difference is that the Packers have been decimated by injuries with 15 total players on injured reserve including many starters. On offense, running back Ryan Grant and tight end Jermichael Finely were the biggest losses. On defense, the Packers have been without the services of linebacker Nick Barnett, safety Morgan Burnett among others. Head coach Mike McCarthy stated on Monday that the team has lost 193 starts due to injury this season.
BF: Are there any worries in Green Bay right now about the Packers being gassed from making their run into the playoffs and having a letdown game this week?
CHTV: There’s always the possibility they suffer a letdown, but I don’t think anyone’s worried about it. The team seems to be upbeat about playing their best football late in the season after winning two pseudo-playoff games in must-win situations back-to-back weeks against the New York Giants and Chicago Bears. The biggest difference is those games were at home for the Packers, and now they most travel to hostile territory.
BF: In your eyes, where do you see the biggest differences in the Eagles from the first time the two teams met?
CHTV: I think most people would agree that the biggest difference is preparing to play an entire game against Mike Vick. Heading into the season opener, Kevin Kolb was the unquestioned starter, and it took an injury for Vick to completely take over in that particular game. Vick has played like the league’s MVP this season and deserves that honor. He’s changed the way the Eagles operate in a positive fashion.
BF: The Packers haven’t showed a lot of commitment to the run as of late. Should the Eagles defense expect to see a one-dimensional attack from the Packers offense?
CHTV: In a close loss on the road to New England in Week 15 and a win at home against the Giants in Week 16, the Packers had just enough success on the ground to make opponents respect their ground game, which in turn, allowed the Packers to have some success with their play action passing game. Granted, the Packers rushing attack is not great, but in can be effective in regards to setting up the pass. If the Packers don’t have early success with the run, however, they can sometimes abandon it.
BF: When the Packers are on defense, how do you expect them to play Michael Vick. Could we see Clay Matthews spying him throughout the game?
CHTV: This past week, linebacker Erik Walden did some spying on Jay Cutler from an insider linebacker’s spot. I don’t think Matthews will do any spying because they’ll need him to put a rush on Vick. The Packers have supreme confidence in their corners to handle opposing receivers, which should allow the Packers to commit other players to stopping Vick including blitzing Charles Woodson from the slot.
BF: On Sunday, where will the Packers have an advantage on offense? On defense?
CHTV: The Packers wide receiver quartet of Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson is as dangerous as they come. Stop one of them and another will make you pay. On defense, it may sound weird, but the Packers should have an advantage with defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Somehow, someway, he always figure out a way to stop opposing offenses.
BF: Where will the Eagles have an advantage on offense? On defense?
CHTV: Vick is the advantage of offense. If he can can find some open running room, he could really create some damage, especially at the second level. The Packers inside linebackers don’t have a chance at tacking him down. Not many do. On defense, Trent Cole could regain his pass rushing touch. Green Bay offensive tackles Chad Clifton and Bryan Bulaga have been prone to breakdowns this season.
BF: What player could be a potential x-factor for the Packers on Sunday?
CHTV: The X-factor could be punter Tim Masthay who did a fantastic job neutralizing prolific return specialist Devin Hester a week ago by placing four punts inside the 20.
BF: Give me a score prediction.
CHTV: Packers win 24-20.