Eagles/Lions — Matchup Of High-Powered Offenses
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson vs. Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson.
No wonder oddsmakers set the over-under for the game at 54 points.
Two potent offenses will face off Sunday when the Detroit Lions (7-5) visit the Philadelphia Eagles (7-5) in a potential NFC playoff preview. The North-leading Lions are one game ahead of Chicago. The Eagles have won four straight and are tied with Dallas in the East.
Don’t expect a low-scoring defensive struggle when these teams meet. The Lions are second in the NFL in yards (424.5) and fourth in scoring (27.2). The Eagles are third (403.6) in yards and eighth in points (25.0).
“We have explosive playmakers. We’re good at making adjustments. Sometimes it’s right out of the gate we get what we think we’re going to get and we go,” Stafford said. “We have smart football players and smart coaches, so when we can adjust on the fly and change certain things to help us succeed in the game and if it starts clicking, then we’re tough to stop.”
It helps to have Johnson and Bush. Johnson leads the NFL with 1,299 yards receiving and 12 TDs. Bush is seventh with 824 yards and has three TDs.
Meanwhile, the Eagles haven’t slowed down since Foles got on a roll a month ago. The second-year pro is having an outstanding season with 19 touchdown passes and zero interceptions.
Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense has options, too. McCoy is second in the league in rushing with 1,088 yards and five TDs. Jackson is eighth with 1,031 yards receiving and has seven TDs.
“Everybody believes in what Chip brought here,” Foles said. “We just continue on that journey and continue to believe in each other. It’s been something special, but at the same time we still have a long ways to go, a lot of improvements as a team.”
Here are five things to watch for when the Lions visit the Eagles on Sunday:
NO. 2 VS. NO. 3: After facing the NFL’s second-best rushing defense last week, the Eagles play against the third-ranked unit this week. Defensive tackles Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh and the rest of the Lions present another challenge for McCoy, who had 79 yards on 19 carries in a 24-21 win against Arizona last week. The Lions are allowing 82.7 yards per game on the ground and haven’t given up a TD rushing in the last eight games.
“They’re a tough defense, especially against the run,” McCoy said. “The good thing about Coach Kelly, he’s going to run the ball, even if they’re one of the best teams against the run. And we’ll make plays, in the run game and also in the pass.”
PROTECTING THE BALL: Despite identical records, the teams are on opposite ends of the turnover battle. The Lions have turned it over 25 times and are a minus-8 in that important department. The Eagles have 22 takeaways to 15 turnovers for a plus-7. While Foles hasn’t thrown any interceptions, Stafford has 14 picks.
“We just have to take better care of the football,” Stafford said. “The last three weeks we had a bunch of turnovers and we have to find a way to eliminate those. If we do that, I feel good about where we are offensively. Got to continue it.”
BIG PLAY LINEBACKERS: Detroit’s DeAndre Levy leads the NFL with six interceptions, and he’s the first linebacker to reach that total since Oakland’s Thomas Howard in 2007. Levy has returned one of those picks 66 yards for a TD.
On the opposite side, Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole has five sacks in the last four games. Cole, a two-time Pro Bowl defensive end, started slow after switching positions nine years into his career.
“Trent has played at a high level the whole year,” defensive coordinator Billy Davis said. “He moves the quarterback off his spot. Lately he’s got the sacks, which is great for him, because you like them rewarded.”
COMING HOME: Lions kicker David Akers went to five Pro Bowls and was a two-time All-Pro for the Eagles between 1999-2010. He’s also the franchise leader in points scored. If the game comes down to a field goal at the end, Akers is quite familiar with kicking at the Linc and the way the wind swirls from one end of the stadium. But he’s missed five of 20 attempts this season and the Lions worked out several kickers during the week.
PICK STREAK: Even though Lions cornerbacks only have one interception this season, Chris Houston is confident his crew will be the first to pick Foles. Houston has been hampered by a foot injury, but expects to play.
“He’s a veteran player, he has been through a lot of different things before,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “You have to have confidence in those guys.”
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