Two seasons ago, the Detroit Lions, in the first steps of their rebuild, took on the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field. After an electrifying start, the Lions were quickly overwhelmed by Philadelphia's diverse offense and ended up losing a shootout. This time around, it will be the Eagles' defense presenting the major challenge as the Lions try to turn around their season.
That once potent Eagle offense has taken a few distinct hits. Michael Vick can sill hurt teams with his scrambling ability, but suddenly, he's prone to big turnovers. The offensive line has problems keeping opposing defenses off Vick long enough to find DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin. Despite this, the birds are still winning with their usual tough defense. Winning on the road is always tough in the NFL, but it's especially daunting in rough and tumble Philadelphia.
Today, we take a closer look at the Eagles and what sets them apart in 2012.
Eagles' Offensive Difference Maker: Michael Vick. Despite all the problems this season, Vick is still the most important player to watch on Sunday. His versatility can cause problems for Detroit's defensive line, and the Lions must keep Vick in front of them if they want to slow down Philadelphia's offense. If Vick can create his plays, both passing and running, the Lions' defense will be in for a long afternoon yet again. As Vick goes, the Eagles go. Get a bd day out of him and the Lions will certainly have a chance to win the game.
Eagles' Defensive Difference Maker: Nnamdi Asomugha. The key match up to watch will be Asomugha, Philadelphia's best cover corner, going up against Calvin Johnson. The defensive line will generate their pressure, but it will be up to Matthew Stafford and Johnson to win the big battle against Asomugha. The year, the Lions' receivers haven't been doing enough to help their quarterback out. Against a good secondary, they will need to be sure-handed and heady.
Eagles' Major Problem: Turnovers, specifically fumbles. In Sunday's loss to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers, the Eagles put the ball on the ground two times, adding to their astonishing total of eight fumbles lost for 2012. Vick has contributed the lions share of these errors, and if Detroit's defensive line can get to him, chances are they could find the ball around them on the ground. The Lions' defense hasn't made the big play yet in 2012, and a turnover prone team like the Eagles gives them a great chance to turn things around.
Eagles' Major Strength? Team defense. The Eagles always play together well as a group, and flock (no pun intended) to the ball. There's no lack of tackling here, and if the Lions want to win, they'll have to find a way to get something on the ground against the 14th ranked run defense in the league. After the loss to the Vikings, Jim Schwartz talked about getting back to running the ball to keep defenses honest. There's no better time than this coming weekend to work out the kinks with both the running and passing game.
Biggest Intangible: Lincoln Financial Field. Rarely do the Lions play well in Philadelphia. Their last visit was an embarrassing 56-21 whitewash in 2007. Counting being blasted in the 1995 playoffs, the Lions are a frustrating 0-4 in the city of brotherly love the last 17 years. If 2011 was the season where the Lions eliminated old ghosts and won against teams they hadn't beaten, in 2012, they'll have to clear yet another out of their closet to feel better.
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