PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (4-5)
at GREEN BAY PACKERS (5-3)
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Line: Green Bay -1, Total: 46
After a record-setting performance on the road last week, Eagles QB Nick Foles will try to stay hot on Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field against a Packers team that will be missing star QB Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers broke his collarbone in Monday night’s home loss to Chicago and will miss the next 4-to-6 weeks of action. Backup Seneca Wallace will get the start in his place. The Eagles are in much better shape under center with Foles matching an NFL record last week with seven touchdown passes, while throwing just six incomplete passes, in a 49-20 rout in Oakland. With Wallace struggling in relief of Rodgers last week, Green Bay may try to keep the ball on the ground with Eddie Lacy and James Starks after the team rushed for 199 yards on 6.9 YPC versus the Bears. Despite missing Rodgers, the Packers should have a key player returning this week in pass-rushing OLB Clay Matthews who hasn't played since Week 5 because of a broken thumb. Since 2003, these clubs have met eight times, with the final margin of victory being a touchdown or less in six of these contests. Philadelphia won the first five games during this span, but Green Bay has prevailed three straight times (SU and ATS) with wins by 3, 7 and 5 points. The Eagles are 9-1 ATS versus incredible offenses (29+ PPG) in the second half of the season since 1992, but the Packers are 12-2 ATS after and ATS loss in the past three seasons.
Can the Packers win without Aaron Rodgers on Sunday? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. The experts are heating up in NFL Best Bets, combining for a 58% ATS record (43-31-2) over the past five weeks, including 77% ATS (10-3) in Week 8. StatFox Scott is 61% ATS (11-7) in the past four weeks, while StatFox Brian went 3-1 ATS in Week 8, marking his fifth straight week of finishing .500 or better. StatFox Dave was a perfect 3-0 ATS in Week 8, as was StatFox Gary (2-0 ATS), who improved to 63% ATS (10-6-1) in NFL Best Bets over the past five weeks.
Eagles QB Nick Foles has been unbelievable on the road this season, completing 63-of-88 passes (72%) for 948 yards (10.8 YPA), 13 TD and 0 INT. He has led the team to three straight victories away from home (SU and ATS) where they have scored 36, 31 and 49 points. WR DeSean Jackson has been the top target with 50 catches for 823 yards and 6 TD, but it was No. 2 WR Riley Cooper who exploded last week for 139 yards on five catches (27.8 avg.), including three touchdown grabs. While Philly is now averaging 8.3 yards per pass attempt (6th in NFL), the ground game has been even better this season with 147.9 rushing YPG (4th in league) on 5.0 YPC (3rd in NFL). But RB LeSean McCoy (777 rush yards, 3rd in NFL) has been struggling to run the football in the past three weeks with just 49.0 rushing YPG on a paltry 3.3 yards per carry. The faced-past Eagles offense ranks last in the league in time of possession (25:06), but has still racked up 413.2 total YPG (4th in NFL). However, this has not really helped the defense that has surrendered 419.3 total YPG, 307.8 passing YPG and 24.3 first downs per game, which all rank last in the NFL. Philly has helped itself out with 10 forced turnovers in the past five games, but it needs a more consistent pass rush, generating a mere 10 sacks over the past six contests. Look for the Eagles to install some more blitz packages to try to rattle Seneca Wallace on Sunday.
Although QB Seneca Wallace is 33 years old, he has logged just 21 NFL starts, going 6-15. Since 2009, he is 1-8 as a starter with a mere 5.98 yards per pass attempt, 9 TD and 7 INT. Even with the Bears stacking the box in Monday's game, Wallace managed only 114 yards on 11-of-19 passing with 0 TD and 1 INT. This is unacceptable considering how talented his wide receivers are, led by Jordy Nelson (716 rec. yards, 7 TD), and the now-healthy James Jones who returned to action last week after missing two games with an injured knee. Jones logged just 28 snaps against the Bears, but he'll likely see a lot more playing time on Sunday. But there's no need to force the issue through the air with rookie RB Eddie Lacy playing so well. Lacy has rushed for more than 80 yards in each of his past five games, totaling 545 yards on 4.6 YPC with three touchdowns. RB James Starks gives the team a nice change-of-pace option, as he's averaged a hefty 6.0 YPC on his 47 attempts this season with touchdown runs in each of the past two weeks. A bigger commitment to the run should also help the club improve its poor red-zone efficiency (48.4%), which ranks tied for 23rd in the NFL. The Packers are even worse in red zone defense with a 68.0% rate, which ties them with the Browns for last in the league. But the unit will certainly benefit from the return of OLB Clay Matthews (45.5 sacks in 62 career games), as the Packers have recorded just seven sacks over the past three games, and have intercepted only three passes all season. In the past five contests, Green Bay has totaled two takeaways, and if it doesn't force more Eagles mistakes on Sunday, it could be a long afternoon.