Here’s a preview of what to watch for when the Green Bay Packers visit Philadelphia for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Monday.
1. Can the defense show up for 60 minutes?
Two weeks ago in Nashville, Dom Capers’ defense barely had gotten off the bus before the Tennessee Titans had put up 21 points on the scoreboard. While the unit eventually stemmed the tide for a bit and allowed the offense to try and make it a game, the Titans were able to keep scoring and maintain their cushion.
On Sunday night in Washington, Capers’ unit fared much better early on, forcing several three-and-outs and generally keeping things competitive for three quarters. Then, to quote Capers, all hell broke loose.
It’s no secret Capers has been dealt a bad deck in this ongoing game of poker he’s being asked to play against opposing offenses. But he has to figure out a way to get a complete game out of whoever is available, because right now his unit’s lapses are killing his team.
2. Can the Packers’ offensive line hold up?
Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan. The Eagles have some impressive players up front on defense and they are all playing good football in 2016.
The Packers' offensive line should be mostly intact, with the only starter likely to miss Monday night’s game being guard T.J. Lang. That said, it was pretty clear Sunday night left tackle David Bakhtiari is playing through pain. He could be seen limping back to the huddle more than a few times.
If the Packers are going to start faster on offense, they need to give Aaron Rodgers a solid, clean pocket from the first snap of the game. Rodgers bailed on a few plays early in Washington because he didn’t trust what was in front of him. If the Packers are going to get off to a better start offensively Monday night, it starts with the matchup up front.
3. Yes, the game in Philadelphia is a must-win game if the Packers are going to salvage their season.
Nobody inside 1265 Lombardi will say it publicly, but there’s no question that Monday night is a must-win game if the Packers want to keep their playoff hopes alive. No, they won’t be mathematically eliminated with a loss, and yes, they will be two games out of the division lead with a win regardless.
But a fifth loss in a row would all but end any realistic shot this franchise has of making the postseason for a record eighth time in a row.
As Rodgers said two weeks ago, harkening back to Marv Levy back in the day, World War II was a real "must win." But in the landscape of the Packers’ season, Monday night may as well be Rodgers and company landing on the beach. Failure is not an option.