The health of Michael Vick will prove decisive in the game of the weekend when the Philadelphia Eagles host the Green Bay Packers in the Wildcard round of the NFL playoffs.
Vick must be mobile Michael Vick’s redemptive season enters the playoffs with doubts over the health of the Philadelphia quarterback. A quadriceps injury caused fears over his availability for Sunday’s game with Green Bay but he was able to practice and his status as a starter looks certain. There remain however questions over his mobility. Having made his reputation with his feet, Vick’s improved passing numbers this season have turned the Eagles into a serious Super Bowl contender. His ability to keep defenses honest by threatening to run has been vital this success. Victory for the Eagles hinges on Vick’s ability to threaten with his feet, creating greater opportunities to go deep with his arm.
Battered Packers have to keep going Clay Matthews, Chad Clifton, Charles Woodson, and Nick Collins all enter this game hurt. The four should play but getting maximum production will be a challenge for the Packers, especially after they had to work so hard to stay in playoff contention towards the end of the season. Fatigue has to be a factor for this team. That means a bright start is essential for Green Bay. Mentally it will be very tough for these injured players to step up and raise their game if they get into a hole early.
The Verdict While I risk placing a hex on this game by saying it, this game has all the makings of a classic. These are two teams that have overcome plenty of adversity in 2010 to make the post-season and both have legitimate hopes of making the Super Bowl. Now it comes down to who can outlast the other in what could prove the tightest match-up of the entire playoffs.
The key will be how the Packers contain Philadelphia’s playmakers. Green Bay should do enough on offense to keep the scoreboard ticking over but controlling the connection between Vick and DeSean Jackson will be crucial to deciding the outcome on Sunday. The health of Vick is pivotal to this and he looks to be on the mend. A healthy Vick is a nightmare for any defense, even one as talented as Green Bay’s. This is going to be an intense battle, one that likely won’t be settled until the final drive. In the end I like the Eagles to make the most of home advantage and survive for another week. Bet on Philadelphia as -3.0 favorites with Sports Interaction.
LIV: Gabriel Morency previews the NFL Wildcard Round