When a team appears to be in free fall, as the Detroit Lions do, typically it takes a soft opponent to help break out of the funk. The Lions may be entering a three-game home stand, but they kick things off with anything but a cupcake game. Instead, they face off against the Philadelphia Eagles, who are not only one of the three remaining undefeated teams, but have also had a week of rest to prepare and get healthy for the Lions this Sunday.
That’s not exactly an ideal situation for the Lions this week, but “any given Sunday,” right? RIGHT? Let’s take a closer look at the Eagles to see if the Lions have any chance this week.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-0)
Schedule so far:
Week 1 - vs. Browns - Won, 29-10
Week 2 - at Bears - Won, 29-14
Week 3 - vs. Steelers - Won, 34-3
Reasons the Lions should be optimistic:
Well, before Week 3, I would say two wins over the Browns and Bears isn’t all that impressive, but then the Eagles went out and plastered a now 3-1 Steelers team by 31 points.
If you’re looking for weaknesses in this Eagles team, you’re going to have to dig deep. Philly’s running game is average, at best. They are averaging a mere 3.7 yards per carry —the Lions are averaging 4.2. One major problem with the Lions’ defense has been their horrid run defense. They could rebound this week against an Eagles team that hasn’t decided on their primary running back yet.
Reasons the Lions should be pessimistic:
The Lions should be pessimistic for every other reason. The Eagles are averaging the second-most points per game. Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has five touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 103.8 passer rating—the sixth-highest rating in the NFL.
But the Eagles are truly smothering their opponents with their defense; they are allowing a league-best 9.0 points per game, holding opposing quarterbacks to a 66.1 passer rating—third-best—and allowing just 71.0 rushing yards per game—again, third-best in the league. This is a dominant defense that has forced six turnovers in three games, while allowing exactly zero passing touchdowns.
The Lions haven’t historically matched up very well against strong defensive teams. Considering the Lions offense showed signs of struggle against a weak Bears defense, it’s hard to imagine a sudden improvement in Week 5.
To answer the original question this article posed: no, I don’t see how the Lions win this game. I don’t see a single matchup in the Lions’ favor, and Detroit is also at the disadvantage of facing a healthier, more prepared team that is coming off of a bye week. The only hope for Detroit is that the Eagles team we have seen through three weeks is a complete phony and Detroit suddenly figures things out in an instant. That seems highly unlikely. Instead, the boo-birds could be out early and often at Ford Field on Sunday.