At the start of the season, the Week 10 matchup between Philadelphia and Green Bay was set to be a battle of Pro Bowl quarterbacks. Instead, it will be a battle of the backups with Aaron Rodgers out for the Packers and Michael Vick unlikely to play for the Eagles.
Vick has bounced in and out of the lineup this season due to injury. Nick Foles has struggled at times in replacement duty, but has been terrific at others, including his seven touchdown performance last week against Oakland. On the other side, Seneca Wallace will make his first start since 2011 with Rodgers likely out for at least three weeks due to a fractured collarbone.
Although the matchup at quarterback may not be what was expected at the start of the season, or even a few weeks ago, the game itself will still have plenty of playoff implications. Both teams are in contention, with Green Bay tied for the NFC North lead and Philadelphia one game back in the NFC East.
Meet the Packers
The focus in Green Bay has been on the loss of Rodgers, but the Packers are more capable of surviving without their star quarterback than in previous seasons. Rookie Eddie Lacy has given the Packers a legitimate No. 1 running back. With James Starks finally healthy, the Packers run the ball as well as anyone in the NFL. Green Bay is second in the NFL in rushing, averaging 148.6 yards per game.
Green Bay will likely rely on that running game with Rodgers out. The 33-year-old Wallace has plenty of experience, but had not appeared in a regular season game since 2011. He struggled in replacement duty of Rodgers last week, and will likely need to improve if the Packers are going to stay in the race.
Defensively, the Packers have been excellent against the run this season, but rank in the bottom-third in the NFL in pass defense. They have been forced to play without two of their top pass rushers, but both Nick Perry and Clay Matthews are getting closer to returning.
Meet the Eagles
Through nine games this season, about the only thing the Eagles have proven is that they are wildly inconsistent. Some weeks, Philadelphia's offense looks unbeatable, like last week when it racked up 49 points through three quarters against Oakland. Other weeks, the offense is almost non-existent, including back-to-back losses when the Eagles combined to score 10 points.
Foles has started three games this season, playing extremely well twice and horrid once. His performance against Dallas -- where he completed 37.9 percent of his passes and averaged 2.8 yards per attempt -- may have just been a down week, but it's still hard to know what to expect. The Eagles are likely to rack up a lot of yards, as they're fourth in the NFL in yards per game.
Rodgers would have been poised for a huge game if he were healthy, with Philadelphia dead last in pass defense. The Eagles are very much a work in progress on the defensive side of the ball and it shows. No team allows more yards per game than their 419.3. Philadelphia employs some bend-but-don't-break tactics and is tied for 21st in scoring defense.
Local Takes: Green Bay
In addition to losing Rodgers, the Packers will also be without Jermichael Finley for the rest of the season. Evan Western of Acme Packing Company wrote about the move to put the TE on injured reserve:
First, the team placed tight end Jermichael Finley on injured reserve. Finley suffered a bruised spinal cord during the Packers' week 7 game against the Cleveland Browns and spent some time in the Intensive Care Unit of a local hospital. Finley said he hopes to play again, but with the Packers' roster in its current state (and with the need to bring another quarterback onto the active 53), the team needed to make a decision sooner rather than later with Finley. Unfortunately, he will have to wait until next season (and his next contract) to play football again.
Local Takes: Philadelphia
With Foles in the mix, Riley Cooper has developed into a legitimate No. 2 receiver, as Mike Kaye of Bleeding Green Nation wrote:
In fact, with Foles, Cooper has become a legitimate starter. The second-year quarterback's ability to throw-open his wide receivers and make anticipation throws, has allowed Cooper to excel. This is not all on Foles of course, as Cooper has shown off his speed on screens and post routes, while also getting open in tight spaces like the redzone. He has been a scoring threat during Foles' tenure, as Cooper scored four touchdowns off of his passes. Granted, this is all a small sample size.
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
Aaron Rodgers talked about his broken collarbone today, and says there is no timetable for his return: http://t.co/2jpXx1F4Mk— Acme Packing Company (@acmepackingco) November 5, 2013
Nick Foles' Jersey and Game Ball are Pro Football Hall of Fame Bound http://t.co/LfBaMoGZmi— BleedingGreenNation (@BleedingGreen) November 5, 2013
@RobDemovsky-- Packers beat writer
@JimmyKempski-- Eagles beat writer
Eagles-Packers line was at 10 before Aaron Rodgers' injury. Down to 2.5.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) November 5, 2013
With Rodgers, this game may have been an offensive shootout. With Wallace starting, it's hard to imagine the Packers having a lot of offensive success. They will lean heavily on the running game, but Philadelphia has been better against the run than the pass. Green Bay may need to rack up 200 rushing yards to have a shot, and will likely face stacked boxes unless Wallace proves he can beat the Eagles.
If Foles continues to do well, the Eagles will put up points. Green Bay's best chance is to rely on the run, control the clock and keep Philadelphia's offense on the sideline. But even if the Packers do that, it still may not be enough.
Pick: Eagles 31-14
Green Bay opened as a 10-point favorite, according to OddsShark.com, but that line was before the extent of Rodgers' injury was known. The line has since dropped in Philadelphia's favor, with the Packers a modest 2-point favorite, according to some oddsmakers.
Week 11: Green Bay at New York Giants -- 4:25 p.m. ET
Week 11: Philadelphia vs. Washington -- 1 p.m.