The undefeated Detroit Lions fly into Philadelphia this week to take on a heavily favored Eagles team that went two games into the playoffs last year. Who wins?
The first two games are in the books with the week three Sunday matchups imminent. The Detroit Lions are still undefeated (yes, I am going to use that phrase until I can’t anymore!) at this point in the season. Many pre-season predictions had penciled in losses in five of the Lions first six games. The Philadelphia Eagles game is certainly one of them. Read on for our predictions to the outcome of this game!
But that’s why the games aren’t played on paper, right?
Bruce Walker (@smoke25):
Last week, (and when you really think about it, at the end of week one as well) the Lions displayed an important trait that will be necessary if the team is to have extended success this year: Resiliency.
They did just that at the end of the fourth quarter. Wide Receiver Kenny Golladay ran a great route and caught the go-ahead touchdown pass. Corner Darius Slay made a Big Play and intercepted the ball in the end zone, killing the Chargers last-chance scoring drive.
Then Quarterback Matthew Stafford was masterful throughout this stretch and was able to run out the clock, with a little bit of brilliant play-calling from the Lion’s offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell.
The week before, it was easy to focus on the fact that the Lions gave up a huge lead and escaped with a tie. Everyone said that it felt like a loss.
But it wasn’t a loss.
If the defense would not have held twice in overtime, it would have been a loss.
If Stafford had not been able to move the team down the field on a do-or-die-drive in overtime and if kicker Matt Prater would not have finished said drive with a clutch field goal to re-tie the game, it would have been a loss.
Instead, it was the first sign of resiliency that the team showed in the face of adversity.
Back to this week, Detroit comes in as seven point underdogs. (*Note: That portion was written earlier in the week. The point spread Sunday morning from Bovada was down to 4.5 points.) That’s a pretty big NFL spread. While the Eagles have split games against NFC East rivals, the Lions struggled to a tie against a perceived weak Cardinals team, then barely allowed a much stronger Chargers team to beat themselves—if you follow the national narrative.
In fact, the Lions are a more balanced team across the board than many people realize.
Stafford is currently 5th in the NFL in passing yards with 5 touchdowns against two interceptions. Both of those came against the Chargers last week. He is sporting a Quarterback Rating of 102.6, which is significantly better than the 89.9 QBR from last season.
The Offensive Line blocked well against a strong Chargers defensive front. Pro Football Focus selected both Frank Ragnow and Graham Glasgow to their team of the week. Our own Logan Lamorandier pointed out that the Lions currently have three interior offensive linemen that rank in the top 20 per PFF.
That is out of at least 96 players.
The tight end group came up with a few clutch catches but made their money is helping Stafford keep clean. Running backs and receivers are solid enough to contribute to a win.
The Lions are tied (there is that word again!) for 11th place in defensive points allowed in the NFL. (Both the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys—Philadelphia’s two previous foes—rank below the Lions in that category.
Special Teams have been a mess, however, Head Coach Matt Patricia has shown the ability to identify problem areas and correct them and I expect this segment of the game to improve week by week.
I know that the Lions are relatively healthy and the Eagles are hurt in a number of spots. I will let the other guys talk about that, if they choose.
Despite that, the common thinking is to pick the Eagles in this one but I just can’t do that. The Lions have something building and I think that it would be a mistake to underestimate them. Maybe it is as simple as resiliency, I don’t know. That is why I am picking the Lions to remain undefeated in this game.
Detroit Lions 27 — Philadelphia Eagles 23
James Gullett (@gullett_james)
The Lions have to travel to the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday. There are so many storylines, I don’t know where to start. We can start with the Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz being the Lions former head coach.
Schwartz took over the year after the 0-16 Lions season and brought them back to a respectable level. Once fired, Schwartz took a defensive coordinator job. Being a top defensive coach and likely head coaching candidate next year, Schwartz knows all about Stafford and what he can do and vice versa. This should make for an interesting matchup.
The injuries for both of these teams are significant. The Eagles more so than the Lions. Detroit is missing a few key starters, however, they seem to be getting healthier and some may even play on Sunday. The Eagles on the other hand have already ruled out receiver DeSean Jackson — who is a key part of their offense. With that being said, I believe this gives the Lions defense a significantly greater chance of stopping the Eagles offense.
This game will be close and this is a must-win game for the Lions to show the rest of the NFL that they are real contenders for a playoff spot in the NFC.
Detroit Lions 24 — Philadelphia Eagles 23
Logan Lamorandier (@llamorandier):
The Lions are going on back-to-back weeks facing teams that are struggling with injuries. That is the NFL though and teams must battle adversity. It doesn’t mean a team like the Lions can’t take advantage of another team’s misfortune. With both starting receivers likely out, the Eagles are still a very solid team and one with realistic Super Bowl aspirations. This was a game that most had already chalked up as a loss for the Lions before the season, now it looks as if a win is very possible.
Needless to say, the Lions need to clean up a lot of mistakes that they committed a week ago — especially on special teams. They did not play well against the Chargers in week 2, but the Chargers somehow played worse. I also find it highly unlikely that the Lions will be able to win scoring just 13 points again.
The defensive line of the Lions have yet to come close to living up to the season’s high expectations of greatness. If they can get back on track against the run and force the Eagles to be one dimensional with backup receivers, it should be a good day. Same goes for the Lions offense. The run game has been a disappointment despite OC Darrell Bevell‘s history with ground-game success.
Overall, I feel the talent is almost there for the Lions. HC Matt Patricia has made this phrase very cliche, but they must execute better than what they have done the last two weeks. Unfortunately, the Lions haven’t shown they can do that yet this year. I think it will be close and the Lions should win, but mental errors that have plagued them in the past, will ultimately cost them the game.
Detroit Lions 20 — Philadelphia Eagles 23Follow here: