LIONS INSIDER

GAME PREVIEW: Today's Lions-Eagles match-up will be won in the trenches

Posted Dec 8, 2013

The biggest matchup in today's game is the Lions' stout run defense (ranked fourth) against the Eagles' second-ranked rushing offense

The Lions hit the road in a big NFC matchup featuring two first-place teams in their respective divisions.

The Lions (7-5) are trying to stay a game ahead of the Bears (6-6) in the NFC North. The Eagles (7-5) are currently tied with the Cowboys atop the NFC East and want to keep their current four-game win streak intact.

HISTORY

Today will be the 31st meeting between these two teams with the Eagles holding a slight 15-13-2 advantage.

The Lions beat the Eagles, 26-23, in overtime at Lincoln Financial Field in the last meeting in 2012. Quarterback Matthew Stafford recorded his eighth career game-winning drive after the defense forced a punt on the Eagles first possession of overtime. Jason Hanson won it with a 45-yard field goal on the Lions’ first possession of overtime.

A LOOK AT THE STATS

 LionsEagles
Record 7-5 7-5
Points per game 27.2 (4) 25.0 (8)
Total yards per game 424.5 (2) 403.6 (3)
Rushing yards 115.2 (16) 146.8 (2)
Passing yards 309.3 (2) 256.8 (9)
Points allowed 23.9 (18) 23.4 (16)
Total yards allowed 344.9 (15) 412.3 (31)
Rushing yards allowed 82.7 (3) 115.5 (19)
Passing yards allowed 262.3 (26) 296.8 (32)
Turnover ratio -8 (26) +7 (8t)

BY THE NUMBERS

Calvin JohnsonCalvin Johnson is on the cusp of becoming the Lions' franchise leader in career receiving yards. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

40: Receiving yards needed by Calvin Johnson to break Herman Moore’s franchise record of 9,174 career yards.

4: Receptions needed by Nate Burleson to give him 30 on the season and become the sixth Lions players to reach 30 catches this season, which would be a franchise record.

62: The Lions defense hasn’t allowed more than 62 rushing yards over their last six games. They haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown in eight games.

5 KEYS

PROTECT THE BALL

More than any other statistic, turnovers have the biggest impact on the win/loss column. The Lions have 17 turnovers in their last five games. If they’d simply gotten out of their own way in losses to Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, the division race might be over by now.

Philadelphia has too explosive of an offense to give it extra possessions.

STUFF THE RUN

Nick Foles gets a lot of the headlines for having 19 touchdowns and no interceptions, but it’s the Eagles rushing attack that makes that offense work. A lot of the looks Foles gets in the passing game are because the Eagles boast the league’s second-best rushing attack, and a 1,000-yard rusher in LeSean McCoy (1,088).

The Lions come to Philadelphia with the league’s third-best rushing defense (82.7). Detroit’s defense hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher yet this season.

Something has to give. The winner of this matchup wins the game.

GET AFTER FOLES

Foles has been very good at protecting the football this season. He hasn’t, however, played as disruptive a defensive line as the Lions employ.

Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley do a good job applying pressure up the middle and defensive ends Ziggy Ansah, Willie Young and Devin Taylor have been very active the last two weeks. Ansah has four sacks over the team’s last two games. Pressure leads to mistakes.

SPREAD THE WEALTH

The Lions offense is truly at it’s best when multiple players are getting involved in the action. Last week we saw contributions from receiver Jeremy Ross and tight end Dorin Dickerson. When the Lions are getting protection from their complementary pieces, their offense is really tough to stop.

The Eagles rank dead last in the NFL in pass defense and 31st in overall defense. They have speed, and do a nice job in the red zone, but there should be opportunities for multiple Lions players to make plays in the passing game.

NO BIG PLAYS

The Eagles’ up-tempo offense does a good job of keeping defenses on their heels and forcing mistakes. The Eagles lead the NFL in 20-plus-yard passes (61), 40-plus-yard passes (16) and has 11 runs of 20-plus yards, fourth-most in league.

The Eagles like to snap the football as soon as the official sets it. That can have defenses running around if their not ready, which can lead to big plays. The Lions have to be very disciplined on defense, get the calls in quick and get set for the snap. The Eagles also like to go over the top of the defense when they crowd the run. Safeties Glover Quin and Louis Delmas have to be on their toes.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: LIONS

Matthew Stafford, QB:

Over is past two games, Stafford has passed for 627 yards (313.5 per game) and six touchdowns. He’s also thrown six interceptions. He has to take better care of the football.

Joique Bell, RB:

Bell had 128 scrimmage yards (94 rush, 34 receiving) and a touchdown last week against Green Bay. With Reggie Bush dealing with a calf injury, Bell could be in line for a few more touches this week. This is also his kind of weather to run in – cold and snowy.

Chris Houston, CB:

Houston missed last week’s game with a foot injury, but returned to practice this week and should play today. Will the injury affect him at all?

PLAYERS TO WATCH: EAGLES

DeSean Jackson, WR:

In two career meetings against Detroit, Jackson has nine catches for 209 yards (104.5 per game) and a touchdown. He ranks second in the NFL among active players (min. 300 catches) with a 17.3 average per catch.

DeMeco Ryans, LB:

Leads the team with 105 tackles. Ryans had 13 tackles the last time these two teams met.

Trent Coles, LB:

Cole is looking to record two sacks in a third-straight game. He has four over the last two games and five on the year.