GREEN BAY—It's a game that could decide a playoff berth, but Eagles Coach Chip Kelly declined to attach that kind of importance to Sunday's meeting between the Eagles and Packers.
"I think every game you play has playoff implications. That's what I think people don't realize. Game one, if you win or lose it, affects your record at the end of the year. At the end of the year, everything is so close. Whether you're 10-6 or 11-5, you can look at any game you won or lost during the year that has an impact on it," Kelly told Packers media on Wednesday.
Be that as it may, this game carries with it a head-to-head tiebreaker advantage, which gives it extra weight in the playoffs race.
Kelly's Eagles will be led by former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who has come off the bench to replace Nick Foles and lead the Eagles to consecutive wins over Houston and Carolina. In those wins, Sanchez played as you would expect a franchise quarterback to play. He carries a 97.7 passer rating into Sunday's game at Lambeau Field.
"Mark's done a really nice job. He's always prepared like he was going to be the starter, which I think every backup should do. He was extremely supportive of Nick when Nick was playing, and then when he got his opportunity to play, he was prepared for it," Kelly said of Sanchez.
Kelly runs an up-tempo, no-huddle offense that's similar to what the Packers do. The Eagles are the No. 4 offense in the league, eighth in rushing and fifth in passing.
"I think it helps you be successful on the offensive side of the ball," Kelly said of his up-tempo approach.
The Eagles defense will be confronted by a new wrinkle in the Packers defense, the move of Clay Matthews from outside to inside linebacker.
"Obviously, in our breakdowns before the Chicago game, you've got an idea of where he was going to be. Now, I think it just puts him in more positions to make plays. It's probably a smart maneuver by those guys. It really caused some problems it looked like for Chicago, in terms of his ability to disrupt things in the middle. It's just another thing we'll be prepared for," Kelly said.
The Eagles defense will be facing what Kelly referred to as "probably the best quarterback in the league right now," Aaron Rodgers.
"That's the huge challenge. I think, I said it to our guys yesterday, I think he's playing as good as any quarterback in the league right now, and probably the best quarterback in the league right now. He's on top of his game. It doesn't seem like you can fool him. He's always kind of a play ahead, a step ahead of defense and defensive coordinators. He always seems to find the open receiver, no matter how it kind of unveils itself pre-snap. He's extremely accurate, as good a thrower as there is in this league. He can keep things alive because he's such a good athlete. It's an exciting challenge for us to go against the best," Kelly said.
The outcome could decide a playoff berth.
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