NFL Preseason: Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers Predictions, Picks & Preview

CJ SmithThe Philadelphia Eagles travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers in the first preseason game for both teams this year (8pm ET Thursday).

While the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals officially kicked off the 2017 NFL Preseason last weekend at the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, for the rest of the league it begins this week. All 32 teams will be in action and eight will play this Thursday.

Among these teams are the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers, who have met just twice in the last 17 years and 16 times total as far as the preseason goes. Their last preseason meeting came in 2015, where the Eagles won in a high-scoring affair 39-26.

During the regular 16-game season, the last meeting between these two teams was November 28 of last year, which was won by the Packers in a 27-13 final. As it would turn out, that game was pivotal for the Packers as it marked the team’s turnaround from a 5-5 record, to winning their last six consecutive games and claiming the NFC North crown. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers was pristine, completing 30 of his 39 passes with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 116.7. His counterpart, Carson Wentz, struggled for Philadelphia, finishing with zero touchdowns and one interception.

It is unlikely that fans will see either of these men on the field this Thursday however and if they do, it might only be for one or two series. The preseason isn’t about established stars getting reps, as rather it helps teams determine who might fill gaps and who could win any training camp positional battles that might be occurring. That being said, preseason NFL games are still among the top sporting events for American fans right now and sure enough, there is certainly a betting market for them with the online sportsbooks. Here’s a taste of what to expect in this game:

Starters to Play? Maybe on Defense

It’s pretty known among NFL fans that the preseason is not the time when you are going to see your team’s top players on the field. That’s because for all intents and purposes, preseason games are meaningless. The Detroit Lions can tell you that. They went 4-0 in the preseason in 2008, which also happened to be the year they became the first and so far only NFL team to go 0-16 in the regular season.

Preseason games simply aren’t worth the risk of injury that comes with them so most teams will opt to play their starters, especially their offensive playmakers, as little as possible. Defense however, is normally a different story and for both the Packers and Eagles, who have some question marks on that side of the ball, expect to see those starters on Thursday.

With just two players over 33 years old and almost half of the roster under 25, the Packers have one of the youngest teams in the NFL and that youthful unit is going to need some time on the field. Defensively, Morgan Burnett and Josh Jones are expected to see the field as Dom Capers begins to test his new nickel package defense. Offensively, rookie Jahri Evans and the rest of the first string offensive line should get some snaps as well as they figure out how to gel together regardless of who might be under center.

For the Eagles, as has seemed to be the case for each of the past several years, the battle to find a solid secondary has been raging throughout training camp. In order to remedy this to some extent, the Eagles have enlisted the help of future Hall of Famer and long-time Eagle, Brian Dawkins. Dawkins has unofficially been coaching the backs, providing his expertise to help the unit grow stronger together.

One of these guys, a second-year player out of North Dakota State, CJ Smith has impressed and should get an extended look in this game. The same goes for Jalen Mills, who has excelled in camp as well. Offensively, the Eagles will likely look to get work for most of their receivers and running backs, almost all of whom are new to the team and would benefit from reps. Among these is Alshon Jeffrey, a veteran receiver and clear-cut #1. Jeffrey won’t see the field long most likely given his injury history but expect him to at least streak down the field for a few series to show off his big play ability.

Our Preview’s Philadelphia Eagles vs Green Bay Packers Picks & Predictions

Since 2010, the Eagles have been one of the NFL’s best preseason teams, posting a record of 20-8 including two perfect 4-0 records during that span. As far as the regular season, this doesn’t really mean much at all but from a betting standpoint, it’s definitely a trend worth keeping in mind.

Also worth noting is that in the 16 preseason meetings between the Eagles and Packers, Philadelphia is 9-6, despite being on the losing side of a 26-14 regular season head-to-head.

Dating back to 2013, the Packers and Eagles have met every season, either in the preseason or regular season with the two teams splitting the four meetings 2-2. Not counting the preseason, the Packers are 2-1 in that span, and currently hold a two-game winning streak.

But as weird as it sounds, when it comes to betting the Eagles, you can’t ignore their preseason results because for some reason, this is a team that has done very well for themselves prior to the first set of regular season games. That’s a fact that will influence this preview’s betting predictions and picks.

  • Green Bay may be favored narrowly, but Philadelphia is a pretty strong preseason team and very likely could open up their 2017 schedule with a victory. Take the Eagles +1pt @ -110 with Bovada Sportsbook.
  • Looking at the total of 39, it’s the third highest mark of all 16 games this week. Interestingly enough however, this total seems more fitting for the regular season as without Rodgers and his top-ranked offense, and with both defenses being tested and on display, it seems unlikely the two teams will top this margin. Take the under 39pts @ -115 with Bovada.