Each week TPE will take a look at the upcoming match-up and give our hottest of hot takes. So lets go ahead on focus our Eagle Eye on the Enemy…
Putting the week two loss behind us will be painful. The shoulda, woulda and coulda will stick with me for quite awhile but in the NFL it’s all about winning the day.
With that in mind lets go ahead and take a first look at The Detroit Lions. Don’t worry, we’ll still have the rest of the week to dwell on week 2.
A Clear Victory?
When the schedule was released, I used the #2 pencil stored behind my ear to mark this down as a clear victory. Have the results of the first two weeks of NFL action done anything to change that impression?
Matthew Stafford has gotten off to a relatively hot start with a QBR of 64.1, good enough to have him ranked currently 10th in the league. In two starts he has thrown for 630 yards, 5 TD’s to just 2 Interceptions. Though both of those interceptions came in the last game.
The Lions were able to eek aout a 13 – 10 win vs the Chargers thanks in part to some turnovers of their own and kicking problems from LA. So lets give them credit, Detroit remains undefeated despite how ugly its been for them so far.
Though the Chargers did have two TD’s called back from penalties before eventually turning the ball over at the goal line, so lets not go too crazy with praising the Lions. A win is a win and the football equivalent of sister kissing isn’t technically a loss so undefeated they are. Only just barely.
Part of the problem has been Matt Patricia learning on the job. Calling a timeout on 3rd down week one all but ended Detroit’s chance to ice the game away. Learning from his mistakes, Patricia bit his tongue and trusted Stafford to get the job done in week two and he did just that converting a 3rd and 6 on the final drive.
Lets make no mistake. It hasn’t been pretty. The running game is nearly non-existent, their punt returner has been benched for butter fingers and their defense has been hemorrhaging yards, Despite that, they have found ways to get the job done.
Is It all Bad?
Maybe not. Stafford is off to a hot start after a bit of a down year in 2018 and his no name receivers are proving to be clutch in big moments. Rookie TE T.J. Hockenson had a great week 1 debut and WR Kenny Golladay managed to get eight catches for 117 yards and a TD against the Chargers including a 31 yarder to take the lead in the 4th quarter.
On defense 2nd round pick, rookie LB Jahlani Tavai came up big forcing a key goaline fumble and looks to be legit with 9 tackles in his first 2 games. Also the Lions averaging 3 sacks a game isn’t something to disregard though competition should be part of that equation.
The Lions are a legit NFL team that has been playing hard but at times can’t seem to get out of their own way with mistakes. (Sound familiar?) This is going to be a tough game for the Eagles, no doubt about it. I expect the Lions to come into Philadelphia ready to play. They will be looking to exploit the Eagles secondary early and test our CBs with chunk plays.
What does History tell us?
The Eagles lead the series 16-15-2, so a Lions win on Sunday would set the record dead even. The last time these two teams matched up was in Detroit during Doug Pederson’s rookie coaching effort when the Lions just managed to defeat the Eagles 24-23 with a 29 yard FG near the end of the game.
In a match-up featuring players by the names of Josh Huff, Ryan Matthews and Caleb Sturgis, this is obviously a different Eagles team than 2016. Previous to that in 2015, The Lions blew the Eagles out in a 45-14 route. The last time the Eagles beat the Lions was at home in 2013 in a 34-20 route of our own.
So the Lions are actually looking a bit like the Eagles so far this season. The talent edge certainly goes to the Eagles almost across the board but as far as high effort and pushing through mistakes the two teams have a lot of similarities. This is not going to be the cake walk I and others imagined in the preseason. Detroit has over come their mistakes to go forward to a 1-0-1 record and will be looking to add to that as they travel to Philly.
Dan Bandekow is a life long Eagles fan. He writes content for ThePhillyEagles.com and elsewhere throughout the internet.