Find out how to watch the Eagles and Packers go head-to-head on Thursday Night Football.
The most impressive part of the Green Bay Packers under first-year coach Matt LaFleur is not the offense, but instead a revamped defense trying to power them to their first 4-0 start in four seasons as they host the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night.
While everyone waited anxiously to see how LaFleur and quarterback Aaron Rodgers would co-exist, the free agent acquisitions of outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith from Baltimore and Preston Smith from Washington have given Green Bay defensive speed on the perimeter sorely missing in recent seasons.
The Packers have not allowed more than 16 points in any of their wins and recorded three more takeaways in Sunday’s, 27-16, victory over the Denver Broncos, raising their season total to eight. The Smiths combined for five of the team’s six sacks, with Preston getting three in addition to forcing a fumble and Za’Darius putting an exclamation point on the win with his second on the final play.
Darnell Savage added a key interception as Green Bay bent but did not break defensively, despite being on the field for nearly 35 minutes, as the Packers allowed the Broncos to convert eight of 15 third downs.
Rodgers and the offense again operated in fits and spurts, opening the game with a touchdown drive for the second straight week and taking advantage of short fields after turnovers for their other two touchdowns. Green Bay put the game out of reach with a methodical 11-play, 51-yard drive that consumed nearly eight minutes in the fourth quarter, before Mason Crosby hit a 41-yard field goal with 5:49 to play.
Rodgers has modest numbers thus far, completing 57 of 93 passes for 646 yards and four touchdowns, but he has yet to throw an interception, which has helped Green Bay post a plus-six turnover differential. Second-year wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling narrowly missed setting career highs in catches and yards as he finished with six for 99, including a 40-yard touchdown.
As Valdes-Scantling was catching touchdown passes, Eagles receivers were dropping them in a 27-24 home loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday. All told, Carson Wentz -- who did not have his top two wideouts in DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery -- was the victim of seven drops and had a 4th-and-15 pass to rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside fall incomplete at the Lions’ five-yard line in the final minute.
Wentz did finish with 259 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns, but each Eagles unit had something go wrong. The special teams allowed a 100-yard kickoff return in the first quarter after Philadelphia had taken an early 3-0 lead, and the defense failed to record a sack of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Green Bay has won four of the last five meetings between the teams, with Rodgers throwing for 313 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 27-13 victory in Philadelphia in 2016. He has won all three of his starts vs. Philadelphia, accumulating 842 yards and seven TD passes.
How to Watch Eagles vs Packers
When: Thursday, Sept. 26
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NFL Network
Live Stream: fuboTV (try for free)