Eagles-Packers: 3 matchups to watch for Sunday
The Eagles (3-7-1) travel to Green Bay for a Week 13 tilt with the surging Packers (8-3) at legendary Lambeau Field.
The Packers, one of few complete teams in football, are operating at a high level in all three phases. The NFC heavyweight plays complementary football and offers depth in key areas.
On the other side, the Eagles are a team without an identity, desperately searching for a silver lining amid a lost season. The stagnant offense that lacks rhythm and cohesiveness will be hard-pressed to keep pace with a super-charged Green Bay offense.
Let's get to my three matchups to watch.
CB Darius Slay vs. WR Davante Adams
You have to appreciate the accountability from Slay following his role in Monday night's loss against the Seahawks -- a game in which he surrendered ten receptions for 177 yards on 13 targets to wide receiver D.K. Metcalf. Slay referred to the performance as the worst of his eight-year career, admitting that he lost on every 50-50 ball. When asked post-game if he ever asked for help, Slay bristled at the notion. His unwavering confidence remained, which is good since his next assignment doesn't get any easier.
This week, Slay draws Packers wide receiver Davante Adams in coverage. Adams, perhaps the top receiver in football, has amassed 74 receptions for 908 yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games. The 27-year-old is the perfect blend of savvy, route running prowess, and size -- which doesn't exactly bode well for Slay, who has often appeared overmatched defending big-bodied receivers. Since Week 6, Adams has averaged roughly 11 targets per game.
As for Slay, he was acquired for games like this. The veteran cornerback will undoubtedly have redemption on his mind in Week 13, and if the Packers' target share is any indication, he will have his opportunities.
LB Alex Singleton vs. TE Robert Tonyan
Singleton has quickly become the Eagles' most effective linebacker due to his tenacity, urgency, and innate ability to read and diagnose plays. The 26-year-old has played every defensive snap over the past three weeks, amassing 33 tackles (three for loss), a quarterback hit, and a fumble recovery.
Singleton is the second half of a linebacker tandem that excels at shooting gaps and playing around the line of scrimmage. However, Singleton's coverage ability could be put to the test on Sunday.
Packers wide receiver Davante Adams will command most of the attention, so I expect Rodgers to form an early connection with tight end Robert Tonyan. Tonyan, six-foot-5, 237 pounds, is an athletic mismatch and tough to bring down after the catch. Tonyan will be a factor in the red zone, but look for the Packers to scheme ways to isolate Tonyan against Singleton and Duke Riley.
WR Jalen Reagor vs. CB Kevin King
The Eagles have struggled to get their first-round pick on track for a myriad of reasons. While injuries have deprived Reagor of crucial reps and growth opportunities, the rookie has had difficulty separating when the ball is thrown his way. Further hindering his progress is that the Eagles continuously refuse to scheme around Reagor's strengths -- such as his explosiveness in space and perimeter speed. If the offense expects to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers and the high-octane Green Bay offense, Reagor must be a prominent contributor.
Jaire Alexander will likely draw Travis Fulgham and Alshon Jeffery in coverage, which means Reagor will matchup with King for much of the afternoon. While King boasts tremendous length and wingspan, the Washington product lacks long speed and isn't a proficient tackler. The Eagles must conjure ways to get the ball to Reagor on short-to-intermediate routes and force King to wrap up in space -- which could eventually set up a deep shot.