By Andrew Porter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The old cliche in football is if you don’t turn the ball over you will win the game.
The old cliche seems to be holding to form this year, as home teams that win the turnover battle are 68-6-1.
This week, turnovers will be as important as ever, especially with weather conditions calling for a mix of snow, sleet, and rain possible throughout the game. The Lions, who play their home games in a dome, will have to deal with classic Philadelphia December weather on Sunday, which should give the Eagles a slight advantage.
The Eagles have only committed one turnover in their last four games, and are +8 in turnover differential over that four game span. Hence, the Eagles are on a four game winning streak. In fact, the Eagles turnover differential for the season is +7, good for sixth best in the NFC.
Conversely, the Lions have committed 13 turnovers and have a -9 turnover differential in their last four games (2-2). For the season, the Lions are -8 in turnover differential, fourth worst in the NFC.
The Eagles are among the top eight teams in the NFL in interceptions with 15, and they are second in the NFL is pass deflections with 79. The Lions are among the top eight teams in the NFL in giving up interceptions, as Matthew Stafford has thrown 14 picks, tied for 5th most in the NFL.
As for the Lions big play receiver, Calvin Johnson, well Stafford loves to take chances when throwing to the 6’5″, 240 pound target. Johnson leads the NFL in receiving yards with 1,299 and is tied with Jimmy Graham for the league lead in receiving touchdowns with 12. However, nine of Stafford’s 14 interceptions have come on passes intended to Johnson, the most any receiver in the NFL.
Maybe the most critical reason that the Eagles have had success creating pass deflections and interceptions, is their ability to create pressure up front and get to the quarterback. Contrarily, the Lions do an excellent job at protecting Stafford. In fact, they are tied with the Broncos for the least amount of sacks given up to opposing teams in the NFL, with 15.
While the Eagles have done a superb job at creating turnovers, taking care of the ball, getting interceptions, and batting down balls this season, and especially of late, they are one of only four NFL teams without a pick-six yet this season. All signs pointing towards one coming this week against the Lions.