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Thursday Night Preview: Can the Eagles Upset the Unbeaten Packers?

Can you really have a must-win game in Week 4?

Look, I'd be the first person to tell you to go fly a kite, and that type of talk is hyperbole. But this really is close to a must-win game for the Philadelphia Eagles, and here's why -- they are already 1-2 in a stacked NFC, and after this game, they have to go on the road for three of their next four to face two teams that are also also undefeated in the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills (yes, the Bills are 3-0) as well as a stout Minnesota Vikings squad.

Despite the 1-2 record, we still think the Eagles are pretty solid, and we have them 15th in our power rankings, while the Green Bay Packers are a notch better at seventh.

Who will come out on top on this matchup? Let's dig in and find out.

Quarterback Breakdown

So the strength of this matchup clearly resides at the quarterback position, where Carson Wentz and Aaron Rodgers will take aim at outdoing one another tonight.

Among the quarterbacks 50 or more drop backs in 2019, Wentz grades out as the slight better signal-caller, per our numbers, sitting 14th in terms of Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back (0.15). On the other side, Rodgers has started slowly this year, ranking 17th with a mark of 0.11 Passing NEP per drop back.

In terms of Passing Success Rate -- the percentage of drop backs which result in a positive NEP -- both rank far worse. Wentz is only 22nd (44.0%), while Rodgers is 25th (42.0%).

Does either offense separate themselves at the running back position?

Running Back Play

The running back situation is a bit perplexing for both of these teams.

For the Packers, Aaron Jones has been the more effective runner despite Jamaal Williams seeing some significant run. Yet again, Jones has been a strong runner, ranking 16th in Rushing NEP per carry (0.03), and he did find the end zone twice last week.

The Eagles are a bit all over the place from a lead-dog perspective, but Miles Sanders appears to be the primary ball carrier. The rookie has 34 carries this year, but they haven't been the most effective -- he ranks fourth-worst in Rushing NEP per rush (-0.27) among backs with 40 or more carries.

Philadelphia has certainly been more pass heavy with a 1.59 pass-to-run ratio, whereas Green Bay slides back with a mark of 1.28.

Can either of these defenses slow down the offensive attack from each side?

Defensive Matchup

Part of the problem that the Eagles have encountered through three weeks is their poor showing so far on the defensive side of the ball.

Based on numberFire's opponent-adjusted metrics, the Eagles rank 19th overall defensively, coming in 21st against the pass and ranking solidly against the run (fifth). The Packers, meanwhile, have been one of the league's best defensive units. They rank third overall and second against the pass, while they are far worse against the run, ranking 28th.

Green Bay has been outstanding in getting after the quarterback. Using Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate, they rank third overall (10.2%), while Philadelphia has been very poor in this regard, clocking in second-worst (1.6%).

Game Projection

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