PHILADELPHIA (CBS 3)- Following a rough loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night, the Eagles (1-1) return home to the friendly confines of Lincoln Financial Field for a matchup with the Detroit Lions (1-0-1).
Heading into the game, the Birds are dealing with a rash of injuries on the offensive side of the ball. Receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are unlikely to play, as is second tight end Dallas Goedert. All three players are dealing with various soft tissue maladies, leaving Carson Wentz’s arsenal just a bit more bare than it appeared heading into the season.
In their place, the Eagles will start Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside at the receiver spots, with Zach Ertz and potentially Alex Ellis at tight end if Goedert indeed can’t go. The Eagles passing attack has been just fine in spite of the injuries so far, checking in at 10th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. However, the running game hasn’t really gotten going, with the team sitting 16th in DVOA there and not running the ball particularly well against a Falcons defense that was gashed by the Vikings in Week 1.
The Lions, like the Eagles, have the same sort of split between run and pass efficiency, though Detroit’s is even more dramatic. With the steady hand of Matt Stafford under center and with receiver Kenny Golladay and rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson providing the biggest threats, Detroit checks in at eighth in passing DVOA, but 28th in rushing. The good news for the Lions is the Eagles pass defense has been suspect so far, largely due to the lack of a pass rush from the front four.
The Eagles defensive line ranks 31st in the league in adjusted sack rate at just 2.4 percent, having picked up just two sacks this season, one of which came from safety Andrew Sendejo. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz adjusted by sending more blitzes against the Falcons, which burned the team in the end with Julio Jones sprinting 53 yards on a wide receiver screen on 4th-and-3 to score the game-winning touchdown.
While the Eagles defense has struggled to generate a pass rush, the Lions have been just below average, 18th in the league in adjusted sack rate and snagging six sacks on the season. Detroit has had some problems against the run, however, generating just a 12% stuffed rate, which measures the rate at which ball carriers are brought down at or behind the line of scrimmage. This could be the game in which we see rookie running back Miles Sanders start to break out.
Despite the heavy spate of injuries, the oddsmakers see the Eagles as six-point favorites entering the contest. CBS Pittsburgh sports anchor Bob Pompeani thinks the margin may be even bigger, with the Eagles bouncing back in a big way this week.
“Disappointing game for the Eagles Sunday night, Carson Wentz willed himself to a near win and then, all of a sudden, a 4th-and-3 turns into a 53-yard touchdown for Julio Jones,” said Pompeani. “I would expect the Eagles to rebound big in this one. Detroit is okay, coming off a nice game where they pulled one out, but I like the Eagles to right the ship. Something in the order of 31-14.”
The Lions and Eagles kick off on Sunday, September 22nd at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.