Playoff seeds and division crowns are at stake on Sunday. Calvin Johnson and LeSean McCoy are first to come to mind when thinking of difference makers, as they have been all season. There are sure to be some surprises in this game though. Here, we try and predict what they are.
The Eagles defense will limit Matthew Stafford to less than 225 passing yards.
The Detroit Lions own the leagues second best passing offense in the NFL. At 309 yards a game, Matt Stafford and company have been busy putting the ball in the air. Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the game, and the addition of Reggie Bush has only given Megatron more space on the outside. The Eagles are last in pass defense giving up 297 yards a game, as well as 15 passing touchdowns. Sounds like Matt Stafford should have a great day, but hold your horses.
The Lions are a top five defense against the run and boast the NFL’s most dynamic defensive tackle combo in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
Detroit’s quick strike offense should jump out to an early lead against the Eagle defense. The early drives will exploit the Eagles secondary for giving up yards in large chunks. Once a lead is built the Lions will pound the ball and build on the lead that way. Bill Davis' secondary does have 15 interceptions this year and don’t be surprised if they get a few more against the pass happy Lions.
The ball will be run a lot because of its effectiveness against a surging, but still weak Eagles defense. A good game on the ground and interceptions call for less than 225 yards passing for Matt Stafford in Philadelphia.
Reggie Bush will be the player of the game
This Match-up features a wealth of playmakers on either team. With LeSean McCoy, Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, Desean Jackson, and Matthew Stafford, the game will not be lacking talent at the skilled positions. The Eagles pass defense barely exists, giving up 297 yards a game. Making for what should be a monster game for Megatron, right? Wrong. The Eagles have a bad secondary, to say the least, and they fully understand that. Coverage will be rolled to Calvin Johnson’s side and leave gaps too big not to be exposed by Reggie Bush and company. We aren’t saying the Eagles will shut down the likes of Calvin Johnson by any means.
What we are saying is that they will leave gaps on the backside a lot. This will leave plenty of opportunity for a back with good hands, and one who’s great in the open field, to thrive against them. The Lions will have early success in the air then secure their lead by pounding the ball with multiple backs and a few screen plays on third and long. Reggie Bush with open lanes is about as dangerous as it gets, in the NFL.
Nick Foles will throw his first two interceptions of the year
So far, Nick Foles has been off the charts in 2013. It’s definitely hard to expect anything but greatness from a guy who’s thrown 19 touchdowns vs. 0 interceptions over the past eight games. But, when Nick Foles is asked to throw the ball more his numbers drop a bit, which would be expected from any quarterback.
Foles completion percentage for the year is an average of 63.3%. In the three games that he threw the ball at least 29 times, his average drops to a pedestrian 56.9%. Foles 9.14 yards per attempt is number one in the NFL. When you average the games just mentioned, it drops to 6.42, good enough for 35th behind Sam Bradford. Detroit’s run defense will put the clamps on the Eagles running game early, forcing Nick Foles to throw it often.
Look for the Lions staff to adjust in the second half and put their players in position to create turnovers. This prediction may not be the popular one, but wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of it being a bold prediction?