Detroit Played Well Last Year, Can They Repeat Their Performance?
What a difference a year makes. In November the Lions were on a roll, climbing their way back into the national conversation, and keeping their coach employed for another season. The Eagles on the other hand were in a tailspin, playing in the worst division in football and steadily moving toward a higher draft pick. The Lions beat the Eagles 45-14, with Calvin Johnson scoring three touchdowns because the Eagles coaching staff blindly refused to change what they were doing on defense despite ample evidence that it was not working.
Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles
This year the Eagles are 3-0 coming off an early bye week, and they have not won a game by fewer than 15 points. The Lions on the other hand are on a three game losing streak, and appear to have taken an equally dogmatic approach to the game as last season’s Eagles staff. The Eagles have a rookie quarterback who has not thrown an interception, and a defensive coordinator who has never lost in Detroit other than the many, many games while the head coach of the franchise, Jim Schwartz. Here are the key match ups in this week’s Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles tilt.
The Eagles Running Game vs, The Lions Front Seven
The Eagles have been utilizing a running back by committee approach in the wake of Ryan Mathews ankle injury. Wendell Smallwood received the bulk of the carries in week three, but Kenjon Barner and Darren Sproles have each excelled in their roles. All three players are relatively light with only Smallwood over the 200lb threshold. Smallwood looks like a late round surprise, having taken on the Eagles return duties, averaging 4.8 yards per carry for the Eagles, Barner stepped in to a role in week three with eight carries for 43 yards and a touchdown in week three. In short the eagles have a four back deep line up. The Lions on the other hand appear to be down Ziggy Ansah and DeAndre Levy again this week, making this potentially a very long day for the front seven.
Tight End of the Week vs. Tahir Whitehead
Zach Ertz is one of the better receiving tight ends in the league and Whitehead is one of the less impressive coverage linebackers in the NFL. The good news is that Ertz has missed two games with a rib issue and may be somewhat limited. The bad news is that if he is not limited he may do some serious damage. Ertz has averaged 101.6 yards receiving in his last five games. It seems unlikely that the Lions are going to end their tendency to give up yardage in the middle of the field.
Jim Schwartz vs Jim Bob Cooter
One of these coordinators has had an incredible run of unending success in Detroit as a coordinator and the other one works for the Lions. He may not have been the greatest head coach in team history, but Jim Schwartz is one of the best in the business when it comes to defensive coordinators. I have not jumped off the Jim Bob Cooter hype train, but if he can’t adapt his game plan to counter Schwartz this is going to be a tough day at the office.
Eagles 28, Lions 18
The Eagles offense has been very effective at doing things that the Lions have been trouble defending. Their offense has been based almost entirely on check downs and taking what the defense has given them. Rookie Carson Wentz has not been making mistakes, and he’s been getting rid of the ball quickly. Which does not bode well for the weak Lions pass rush. I am sure there is a way for the Lions to come out on top, realistically they have yet to lose a game by more than a single score. But I just do not see it this week. That is why they play the games though, and as we saw last week and the week before, with the right combination of players coaches and referees having a bad day anything could happen in this Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles match up.
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