Lions vs. Eagles preview: Detroit looks for second straight win over 2018 playoff team
After a comeback win at home against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Detroit Lions are on the road Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
It's another game against a 2018 playoff team that's a big test for the Lions. After a big win, what will the Lions' response be, especially on the road against a team that looks better than them on paper?
Let's look at the Eagles' key players, headlines going into the game and see what the Lions need to do to win.
Carson Wentz, QB (#11): When healthy, he's been one of the better quarterbacks in the league. He can run a little bit and has a big arm. He threw a couple of bad interceptions last week, but was able to bring the Eagles back and have them in a position to win late.
Zach Ertz, TE (#86): One of the best tight ends in the league, Ertz has been picking up more targets as the Eagles deal with injuries.
Nelson Agholor, WR (#13): Agholor is stepping into the number one receiver role and should get plenty of targets in the slot.
Jordan Howard, RB (#24): The former Chicago Bear leads the Eagles in rushing this season.
Fletcher Cox, DT (#91): One of the NFL's top defensive lineman, he commands a double team to keep him out of the backfield.
Brandon Graham, DE (#55): The former Detroit Crockett and University of Michigan star seems like he's been in the league forever. He's still making plays and can be disruptive in the pass rush.
Malcolm Jenkins, S (#27): Jenkins is a hard-hitting, aggressive safety who's likely to matchup with the Lions' tight ends. He'll also be near the line of scrimmage to make plays in the running game.
Ronald Darby, CB (#21): Darby is considered the Eagles' top cover corner. He's looking to bounce back after a bad game last week when he gave up seven catches for 115 yards.
Injuries: For the Eagles, a lot of the talk has been about who won't be playing Sunday. WR DeSean Jackson is out and WR Alshon Jeffery hasn't practiced. Starting LB Kamu Grugier-Hill has been limited in practice, backup S Johnathan Cyprien has been out, backup TE Dallas Goedert has been out. The Eagles are preparing to be without those guys or in the best-case scenario be able to play some of them on limited snap counts.
The Lions are much better off on the injury front. It looks like LB Jarrad Davis will play Sunday, while DE Deshawn Hand is more of a toss-up. Also, OT Taylor Decker should be back after missing last week's game.
Lions' offense vs Jim Schwartz's defense: While they didn't put up a lot of points last week, the Lions' offense has quietly been a Top 10 offense in the NFL.
Eagles' defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz knows Matthew Stafford well and will probably be bringing lots of pressure to try to get to Stafford.
While the Lions were able to get away with scoring 13 points last week, they're going to need more than that to beat the Eagles.
Eagles' high-powered offense: Eagles' head coach Doug Pederson is one of the top play callers in football. He had a great day the last time he called plays against Matt Patricia's defense when the Patriots and Eagles played in the Super Bowl in 2018.
Right now, the Eagles' offense relies heavily on Carson Wentz's ability to lead them down the field. If he has time, he can find his receivers or dump it off to Zach Ertz.
How the Lions win: No question the Lions will want to run the ball and try to control the clock. But they've got to have some big plays in the passing game and put up some points because the Eagles score on average 26 points per game.
On defense, the Lions need to shut down the run. After two weeks the Lions are in the bottom half of the league in terms of rushing defense. Stopping the run might help the Lions Detroit exploit the Eagles' lack of pass catching threats. But no matter who's catching the ball, Carson Wentz can get it to them if he has lots of time to throw.
Overall, the Lions must play their most polished game yet to get a win here.
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