3 storylines as Eagles face winless Lions in search to turn season around
The Eagles have had a tough stretch as of late as they’ve had to deal with the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Las Vegas Raiders.
But thankfully for all of our sake, they get a break. Now, I’m not saying the Eagles are a lock to win this game, but they’re going up against the 0-7 Detroit Lions in Detroit.
Here’s three storylines.
Knowing the Eagles, they’re not going to win
Watch it happen, the Eagles are not going to win.
That’s how this one is shaping out to be… right?
It feels like the Eagles are a complete disaster.
Of course, the same can be said of most 0-7 teams as well. But the Lions aren’t most 0-7 teams. They’re just a little better than their record says.
The Lions are really hungry for the first win of the Dan Campbell era after coming so close a number of times before. I also think this could be a Duce Staley revenge game.
It’s also just really hard to trust the Eagles anymore. Jalen Hurts gets an incredibly favorable passing matchup today but he hasn’t been able to really take advantage of those thus far. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s soft cover-two defense is something that Jared Goff should be able to have success against.
Perhaps those doubting the Eagles in this matchup are underrating the Lions’ talent deficiencies. Their roster wasn’t that great to begin with and it’s been getting worse with a number of injuries.
In a perfect world, the Eagles take advantage of the Lions in this spot and the win helps Nick Sirianni turn the corner. We start to see more promising signs for the future.
In reality, it’s tough to bank on that happening. It might be more beneficial in the long run for the Eagles to lose this game. Sporting an L to the league’s only winless team could force Jeffrey Lurie to take a long, hard look in the mirror and realize that his franchise isn’t actually on the right track after all.
It’s on the Eagles to prove their skeptics wrong.
Sanders out, Howard in
With Miles Sanders out for three weeks with a sprained ankle, the Eagles had to turn to a guy who hasn’t taken a snap since 2019.
His name is Jordan Howard.
People say Kenny Gainwell should’ve been put at the starting running back position, but he’s more useful as a receiver who can sometime run the ball. Howard is the perfect fit.
“We’ve got a guy, Jordan Howard, who I think is a very underrated player, who can offer a lot for a football team,” Jason Kelce said Wednesday.
Incredibly, despite missing nearly two full seasons, Howard is in the top 10 in the NFL in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns since he entered the league in 2016
In his last six games as a bellcow runner – the last six games he played in 2019 – Howard averaged 15.7 carries, 71.0 yards and 4.5 yards per carry.
That’s who he is. You want to extend drives? You want to move the sticks? You want to convert third downs? He’s your guy.
A scary matchup
One matchup that doesn’t seem pleasant is DeAndre Swift vs. the Eagles’ linebackers.
Who’s going to cover him?
Swift leads all NFL running backs with 42 catches — nobody else has more than 34 — and that puts him on pace to become the fifth running back in NFL history with 100 catches in a season. But the Philadelphia native doesn’t just catch a lot of passes, he’s averaging 9.3 yards per catch, which is a lot for a RB. Swift, coached of course by Staley, is one of only seven players with at least four catches in every game this year.
How often does a running back lead a team in receiving yards?
And tight end T.J. Hockenson is second.
The Lions might target both of them a dozen times Sunday. I would.
And if I’m Jonathan Gannon, the Lions are the last team I’d play cover-two against. Their WRs have just three catches over 25 yards this year, and Goff is averaging just 9.8 yards per completion — 31st out of 33 qualifying quarterbacks — so the threat of the deep ball isn’t there.
So get out of the two-deep zone and get more resources to the middle of the field, where the Lions’ best weapons — Swift and Hockenson — run their routes.
When: 1:00pm ET
Where: Ford Field
Radio: 94.1 WIP