Philadelphia Eagles fans are holding their collective breath over Mike Vicks’s health as their team hosts the Green Bay Packers
for wild-card weekend on Sunday afternoon.
Bookmaker.com has Philly as three-point home favorites (plus 105) with a total of 46 points set for the matchup. Green Bay is just plus 120 to win outright.
Philadelphia (10-6 straight-up, 7-9 against the spread) won the NFC East thanks mostly to the miracle 38-31 comeback win at the NY Giants in Week 15. The Eagles had a shot at the NFC’s No. 2 seed, but got shocked 24-14 at home to Minnesota in Week 16. The final week home loss to Dallas (14-13) was a meaningless game.
The ‘under’ went 2-0 the last two weeks after the ‘over’ was 9-1 in the previous 10.
Vick sustained a quad contusion against Minnesota and struggled with two lost fumbles and an interception. He was limping noticeably at the end of the game and proclaimed himself at just 75 percent healthy this past Monday even after sitting out last week.
The slight 30-year-old quarterback made himself into an MVP candidate by throwing for 3,018 yards and rushing for 676 in just 12 games. He missed three earlier games with a ribs injury and is always one hit away from getting knocked out.
Vick’s health against Green Bay is not just about his rushing skills. His ability to avoid the pass rush and move outside the pocket gives big play receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin time to get down the field. They combined for 34 receptions of 20 yards or more.
The Green Bay defense had 47 sacks this year, second in the NFL behind Pittsburgh (48). Philly allowed 50 sacks, tied for second-worst. Coach Andy Reid needs to get running back LeSean McCoy involved early to keep the Green Bay defense honest and not completely honed in on Vick.
The Eagles know they need to score a lot of points in this game. They’re 9-0 SU and 7-2 ATS when scoring 27 points or more. They’re 1-6 SU and 0-7 ATS when scoring less.
The Packers (10-6 SU, 9-7 ATS) got a wild-card after surviving 10-3 at home last week against Chicago. Green Bay was really feeling the pressure and should be a bit more relaxed playing as an underdog.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers also has an injury situation. He suffered a concussion in Week 14 at Detroit and missed the following game at New England. Rodgers is healthy now and played well the last two weeks, but can’t afford to take any head shots.
Rodgers leads the NFL’s fifth ranked passing attack (257.8 YPG) and will target rookie corner Kurt Coleman and avoid Asante Samuel (seven picks). Green Bay doesn’t have much of a running game (ranked 24th), which puts the burden squarely on the quarterback’s shoulders.
Green Bay’s defense is fifth in the NFL in yards allowed (309.1 YPG). That’s mostly due to the pass defense (194.2 YPG, also fifth) which has the second-most picks (24). Vick has at least one interception in his last five games after none in the first seven.
The Packers allow just 15 PPG, ranked second overall. The high powered Patriots (31 points) are the only team to score at least 21 on them the last nine games.
Green Bay is 3-5 SU and 4-4 ATS on the road. However, Rodgers’ concussion factored in the last two losses. The ‘under’ went 7-1 in away games, with only the New England 31-27 win going ‘over’ the total.
These teams met opening week in Philly, with Green Bay winning 27-20. The Packers knocked out then starter Kevin Kolb (concussion), leading to Vick’s ascension. Vick threw for 175 yards and ran for 103 more, almost rallying the team back from a 27-10 deficit. The final score went just ‘under’ the 47 ½-point total. The ‘under’ is 7-1 in the last eight meetings between the teams.
Philly linebacker Stewart Bradley (elbow) appears doubtful, while guard Max Jean-Gilles (ankle) is questionable. Green Bay has battled back after losing several key players to IR earlier in the year. Defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf), linebacker Frank Zombo (knee), safety Atari Bigby (groin) and fullback Korey Hall (knee) are all questionable.
Kickoff from Lincoln Financial Field will be 1:30 p.m. (PT) on Fox. This comes right after the AFC’s Baltimore (minus three) at Kansas City.