Butler's Breakdown: Packers vs. Eagles


The Philadelphia Eagles are going to have their hands full this week. The Green Bay Packers are coming to town on a hot streak after winning six games in a row with a little bit of revenge in their eyes from last year's playoff game.

That was a game the Packers should have won, had the game won, but let it slip away.

I know a lot of people want to focus on the fourth-and-26, but there were some other things in that game that should have never happened that were allowed to happen. In my opinion, the Packers essentially just let that game slip away.

Ahman Green ran up and down the field that day and dominated the Eagles' undersized defensive line. That's something the Packers will need to repeat in this game.

I believe the Packers will be very aggressive on offense this Sunday. If this game turns into a shootout, I think that's in the Packers' favor. But make no mistake about it - Green Bay is still a run-first team.

If you look at the Eagles' lone loss from this season when they were beaten by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jerome Bettis ran on them all day. The Steelers were able to win that game with a rookie quarterback because they used such a focused running attack.

I think the Packers should take a page out of that playbook and do what they do best, and that is to be very physical up front along the offensive line. The Eagles' defense does run a lot of stunts and a lot of blitzes, but if you catch them blitzing with the right play called, you can bust through for a huge gain.

Big backs have had good success against this Eagles team, which I think will benefit the Packers because they not only have the punishing Green, but he's followed up by another guy who will pound the ball in Najeh Davenport. I think both of those guys could really do some damage against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Their secondary is also a little undersized. When you look at cornerbacks Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard, both of them are six feet tall or under, and that should play to the advantage of Javon Walker, Donald Driver, Robert Ferguson.

These guys have to win the perimeter passing game. I would try to get these guys as many one-on-one opportunities as possible and let them go up for the ball. Big receivers have also given the Eagles trouble.

I think the Packers have the right scheme to beat the Eagles. However, for them to get the job done, they will have to get through this game without committing any turnovers. If the offense does not turn the ball over, they should win this game.

The Packers need to be committed both to running and passing the football, but the run will open up the pass. Green Bay should gain at least 165 yards rushing Sunday, and that will open things up for Brett Favre to throw for 250-plus.

On defense, I think the Packers should use a lot of combination zones against the Philadelphia offense. They will put Al Harris on Terrell Owens and just let him do his thing. For the last six weeks, Harris has been playing at a very high level and I think he will be up to this challenge.

One thing to watch for will be the Eagles' formations on third downs. They sometimes run some things that might give the Packers some trouble because they haven't seen them before. The Eagles move T.O. around a lot and run a lot of underneath routes which proved to be a bit of a problem against the Rams last week. They also love to throw the deep ball.

All of this is added to the fact that Donovan McNabb is still and MVP candidate because he can do so many things at the quarterback position. He loves to scramble, but when he's running around he's still looking down the field to make a big pass.

One thing the Packers defense must do in this game is tackle well. Whenever the Eagles see cornerbacks playing off the line of scrimmage against Owens, McNabb will just stand up and throw a quick pass to him and hope that he can break some tackles for a big play.

Brian Westbrook and Dorsey Levens are a potent one-two combination at running back for the Eagles. Westbrook, number 36, is a threat both running the ball and coming out of the backfield as a receiver. He's very elusive, especially on screen passes, but he also has some very sore ribs so the Packers will need to be sure to give him some hard hits.

The Eagles run a finesse running game. Their running game is just good enough to beat you if you let it get out of hand.

All in all, this game will be a chess match between two good coaches who know each other very well - Andy Reid and Mike Sherman.

For the Packers to be known as an elite team, this is the game that could give them that elite status and bump them up into being recognized as one of the top teams in the NFL. This game could also be a big one for potential playoff position.

This game will probably come down to turnovers, and the Packers defense is finally starting to create some takeaways. They caused two fumbles last week and picked off a pass. They will need to continue that this week.

The way that the linebackers have been flying around lately, I'm looking for Na'il Diggs to come up with a game-changing play this week.

I think the leadership in the Green Bay locker room will come to the front in this game and they will do whatever it takes to come home with the victory.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to Packers.com beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website, leroybutler36.com.*

LeRoy serves as the host on the new DVD, 'Brett Favre - On and Off the Field'. Click here for more information on the DVD.

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