Can the Packers beat the Eagles without Aaron Rodgers?

Can the Packers beat the Eagles without Aaron Rodgers?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Bob McGinn was in the news this week for his unfortunately-timed article “Packers could win without Aaron Rodgers,” a story that ran two days before the All-Pro quarterback suffered a broken collarbone. Oops.

McGinn tempted fate, writing “Fools will cry that I'm jinxing Rodgers and the Packers” before inadvertently forecasting with stunning accuracy Rodgers’ going down “early Monday night against the Chicago Bears.” Oops.

Somewhat lost in the aftermath of McGinn’s column and Rodgers’ subsequent injury was the point that the Packers will be just fine without the 2011 NFL Most Valuable Player. How is that working out so far anyway?

They certainly weren’t fine against the Bears, who went on to defeat the Pack at Lambeau Field with journeyman Seneca Wallace at the helm. Wallace completed 11 of 19 passes for 114 yards with an interception and no touchdowns in the loss, dropping Green Bay to 5-3 on the season.

Wallace it turns out is one of the reasons McGinn insisted the club would be okay.

They've never had to make do without possibly the finest player in the league. Losing Rodgers to major injury would be the nightmare of all nightmares. He makes everyone's job easier.

Yet, no organization would be better equipped to handle it than Green Bay.

Having spent much of the week researching the long career of No. 2 quarterback Seneca Wallace and the brief career of practice-squad quarterback Scott Tolzien, the guess here is that even if the Packers were to lose Rodgers early Monday night against the Chicago Bears they'd find ways to finish 11-5.

That’s it, that was the crux of the argument. McGinn must not have spent too much of the week researching the long career of Seneca Wallace, because even a cursory glance reveals his record as a starter is 1-8 since 2009, 6-15 all time.

Assuming Rodgers were out for the remainder of the regular season, Wallace would have to go 6-2 the rest of the way to get the Packers to 11 wins. That sounds optimistic for a guy that wasn’t even on an NFL roster last season.

Football Outsiders would seem to agree that’s a tall order. Here’s the entry on Wallace in the 2013 Almanac while he 10th-year veteran was still in camp with the New Orleans Saints, one of three organizations he’s spent time with this year.

Seneca Wallace, NO: Seneca’s appearance in the Big Easy says more about the team’s uneasiness about having Luke McCown as the backup QB than any confidence in Wallace. If either player sees significant time behind center this season, 2013 will be even worse than the 2012 debacle.

With Wallace under center, the Packers are just another one-dimensional offense, the likes of which the Eagles have handled this season. Only two teams have scored more than 21 points against Philadelphia’s defense, and none in the past five games.

Of course, I risk pulling a McGinn by pointing this stuff out. Obviously the answer to the question “Can the Packers beat the Eagles without Aaron Rodgers?” is sure they could.

The Birds will have to sell out to stop Eddie Lacy and Green Bay’s second-ranked ground attack, and even that provides no guarantees. If Wallace can hit on just a couple of big plays to deep threats Jordy Nelson or James Jones, that might be just enough offense to win—especially if bad Nick Foles shows up.

But bad timing aside, this idea that the Packers are anywhere near as formidable without Rodgers in the lineup is absurd. On the contrary, Green Bay is teetering on the brink of disaster right now. The Eagles must take advantage.

Watch: The Phillies pulled off the old double steal

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Watch: The Phillies pulled off the old double steal

The Philadelphia Phillies are attempting to salvage something this afternoon in Detroit this as they take on the Tigers. The Fightins got on the board early and hold a 2-0 lead midway through the second.

After a Peter Bourjos single scored Ryan Howard, Odubel Herrera came up to bat and didn't even have to move to get another run in.

The Phillies pulled off a double steal with Bourjos taking second which allowed Andres Blanco to come home easily.

With the Phils showing such little pop at the plate this season, a little hustle and ingenuity is needed.

Today's lineup: Phillies try to salvage game against struggling Anibal Sanchez

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Today's lineup: Phillies try to salvage game against struggling Anibal Sanchez

Justin Verlander mowed down the Phillies last night in a 3-1 Tigers victory, but the Phils have a chance to strike back this afternoon against a struggling pitcher who hasn't had much career success against them.

Anibal Sanchez will take the hill for the Tigers and oppose Aaron Nola in today's series finale (1:10 p.m. on CSN). To say Sanchez hasn't had a great start to his season would be an understatement. He's 3-5 with a 6.32 ERA and opponents are batting .270 against him.

In his career against the Phillies, Sanchez is just 4-8 with a 4.94 ERA. Granted, most of those numbers came in the early part of his career with the Florida Marlins, when he regularly faced powerful Phillies lineups. As one might expect, Ryan Howard, who is again in the lineup today as the designated hitter and batting fifth, has seen Sanchez plenty of times. His 42 at-bats against Sanchez are tied for third-most against the 32-year-old righty. Howard's done OK against Sanchez — 9 for 31 (.290 average) with two homers and four RBI. Maybe some familiarity will finally lead to a breakout game for Howard. But, if his massive slump is any indication, maybe not.

For as poor as Sanchez's start to the season has been, Aaron Nola's first six weeks of 2016 have been at the other end of the spectrum.

Today's Phillies starter is 3-3 with a 2.85 ERA. But he's been better than those numbers show.

His .900 WHIP is third in the NL, as is his 5.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His 6.45 hits allowed per nine innings is fourth in the NL, as is his 1.65 walks per nine innings. His 64 strikeouts rank eighth in the NL. Imagine if he got more than the 2.89 runs of support he's been getting in his starts.

As for the rest of the Phillies' lineup today, the only changes see Andres Blanco getting the start for Cesar Hernandez, batting seventh and Cameron Rupp behind the plate, batting sixth.

Phillies
1. Odubel Herrera CF
2. Freddy Galvis SS
3. Maikel Franco 3B
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Ryan Howard DH
6. Cameron Rupp C
7. Andres Blanco 2B
8. Tyler Goeddell LF
9. Peter Bourjos 1B

Tigers
1. Cameron Maybin CF
2. J.D. Martinez RF
3. Miguel Cabrera DH
4. Victor Martinez 1B
5. Nick Castellanos 3B
6. Steven Moya LF
7. James McCann C
8. Mike Aviles 2B
9. Jose Iglesias SS

Watch: Miguel Cabrera gives Jeremy Hellickson thumbs up for fooling him on nasty pitch

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Watch: Miguel Cabrera gives Jeremy Hellickson thumbs up for fooling him on nasty pitch

The Phillies once again couldn't find much offense and fell to the Tigers in Detroit last night by a final of 3-1.

But at least the pitching showed something.

There was a fun moment between Jeremy Hellickson and Miguel Cabrera after Hellickson threw quite a nice pitch that fooled Miggy.

Here's how Jim Salisbury described the fun battle:

Hellickson served up a down-the-middle fastball to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning and Cabrera swatted it for an RBI double. He has four RBIs in the first two games against the Phillies.
 
In the third inning, Hellickson struck Cabrera out on a nasty changeup for the third out. The pitch was so good that Cabrera flashed Hellickson a thumbs-up before spiking his helmet to the ground.
 
Hellickson’s changeup has been very good lately.
 
“I really feel comfortable with it right now and I’m throwing it for a lot of strikes,” he said.

And here's the thumbs up: