The Detroit Lions (1-3) will take on the Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) from Ford Field on Sunday at 1 p.m. on Fox.
Detroit’s last game was a 17-14 loss to the Chicago Bears and the Eagles’ last game was a 34-3 drubbing of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Lions offense will struggle in this game as the Eagles defense has been stout so far this season. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 213 yards and two interceptions last week in Chicago. The Eagles will be a tougher test for Stafford, as they currently rank 7th in passing yards allowed per game. They also only give up an average of nine points per game, so the Lions will have to play sound football.
Detroit’s running game hasn’t gotten going this season as they rank 22nd in rushing yards per game. Starting running back Ameer Abdullah was placed on injured reserve after the team’s loss to the Tennessee Titans in week two. Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington have tried to pick up the workload, but haven’t done too well in doing so. Washington is out this weekend with an ankle injury and Riddick is seen as more of a pass catcher in the Lion offense.
Zach Zenner will likely get more touches while Washington is out. Zenner had three carries for 12 yards last week against the Bears, and he is a strong between the tackles runner that could spark the Lions’ running game.
The Lions wide receivers might have trouble finding openings against a strong Eagles secondary. Tight end Eric Ebron has been ruled out of this game, while wide receiver Marvin Jones has been limited in practice all week. Jones could give the Eagles defensive backs some trouble, but he will likely draw some double teams. Golden Tate and Anquan Boldin will have to win their one-on-one matchups for Detroit’s passing game to be effective. Boldin finished with six catches for 31 yards last week, while Tate finished with one catch for one yard. Jones led all Lions receivers with five catches for 74 yards in the loss against the Bears.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is only a rookie, but he has burst onto the scene in his first three games in the NFL. Wentz threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles win over the Steelers two weeks ago. Wentz hasn’t been in the league long, but he seems to have great chemistry with his receivers. Detroit currently ranks 21st in the league with 271.8 passing yards allowed per game, so Wentz should be able to find open receivers.
The Eagles run game has been very effective this year. They currently rank 10th in the league with 119.3 rushing yards per game. Ryan Matthews leads the running backs, while Darren Sproles takes over on passing downs. Sproles is a big play threat on passing downs. He had six catches for 128 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers two weeks ago, so he has big play potential. Wendell Smallwood is another name to keep an eye on as he rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries against the Steelers. The Lions have done well against the run as they give up an average of 114.5 yards per game, which is ranked 11th in the league.
Eagle receivers should have a field day against the Lions’ secondary. Jordan Matthews is the number one target of Wentz, as he leads the team in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns. Matthews has 15 catches, 204 yards and two touchdowns on the season. Another player the Lions have to worry about is tight end Zach Ertz. He is expected back from injury this week and the Lions struggle to cover tight ends. The Lions have surrendered six touchdowns to tight ends in four games this season, so Ertz has good odds to find the end zone in this game.
Keys to the Game
The first key to the game is once again the Lions secondary. Detroit has struggled in its coverage so far this season and that has to change if they want to win this game. Wentz is a good, young quarterback that can stand back in the pocket and pick defenses apart.
The defensive line is another key for Detroit. They have to be able to get pressure on Wentz, because the secondary won’t be able to cover for long periods of time. The Lions will be without Ziggy Ansah and that will hurt them up front. Getting pressure will be key in this game.
The last key for the Lions is the passing game. Detroit has to be able to pass the ball because the run game won’t be very effective due to the lack of depth at the position. Jones, Tate and Boldin have to find holes in the Eagles secondary and Stafford has to get them the ball.
The Lions will lose this game for two reasons. The first being the lack of pressure they will get on the quarterback. Injuries have hurt the Lions up front this year and with Ansah out, the Lions will struggle to get pressure. The second reason is the Lions secondary. The unit has done a poor job this year at staying with receivers. Some of the blame can be put on the lack of pressure by the defensive line, but in the end, the defensive backs have to be able to stick with their man.
Eagles 34, Lions 17.