That isn’t a turkey. It’s a not a turducken. That’s an eagle ravaged by a lion cooked slowly in the oven for 3 hours. The streaking Detroit Lions (3-7) have won two games in a row and will host the Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) at Ford Field on Thanksgiving. The game will be played at 12:30 PM (ET) on Fox. The Lions need to win this head to head NFC matchup to keep their miracle playoff hopes alive. Let’s take a look at the matchups before you stuff your gullets with turkey and pumpkin pie.
Eagles Passing Game against Lions Pass Defense
The Lions have had a resurgent pass defense the last two weeks shutting down Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field and Derek Carr in Week 11. The Lions catch a break facing backup Mark Sanchez instead of starter Sam Bradford (concussion/shoulder injury).
Sanchez is best known for his turkey day butt fumble as a New York Jet. The Sanchize failed in New York and is on his second team unlike fellow 2009 top draftee Matthew Stafford.
The Lions pass defense with shut down corner Darius Slay, second year pro Nevin Lawson, rookie Quandre Diggs, free safety Glover Quin and Isa Abdul Quddus have the coverage skills to shoot down Chip Kelly’s high powered quick offense.
The Eagles are 16th in the league scoring 22.9 PPG and don’t have on guy that they rely on in the passing game. Jordan Matthews had 565 yards on 84 targets and 2 TDs. Zach Ertz is a decent tight end with 394 yards. Riley Cooper has 247 yards 2 TDs and 19 YPC. Running back Darren Sproles is having a down year but is a receiving threat along with Demarco Murray (295 yards). Josh Huff leads the Eagles with 3 TDs on the season. The Lions will need a team effort with strong pressure to limit big plays allowed by the Eagles pass variable pass offense.
Ziggy Ansah (8 sacks) against Jason Peters will be the big matchup in the game. Ansah leads the way with pressure for Detroit. DC Teryl Austin will send some blitzes and hopefully get consistent pressure from Haloti Ngata, Carraun Reid and Jason Jones. Detroit bringing consistent pressure is much needed to slow down the Eagles’ offense.
Eagles Rush Offense against Lions Rush Defense
The Eagles are 13th at 4.1 YPC running the ball. Big free agent addition DeMarco Murray is not the reason for their success at 3.7 YPC on 141 attempts. Former Charger, Ryan Matthews, has 5.7 YPC on 75 attempts but is questionable returning from a Week 10 suffered concussion. Darren Sproles averages 3.6 YPC on 45 attempts. The Lions rush defense has been excellent the last two games and 7 of the 10 games this season. Detroit should be able to shut down the Eagles run game. A bad run defense game by the Lions defense would cause major problems and open up the Eagles offense.
Lions Pass Offense
If the Lions protect Stafford (26 sacks (10th worst), 68 QB hits (5th worst)), they can move the ball against Philadelphia. The Eagles allow only 6.9 YPA but have given up 20 passing TDs (88.5 QB rating for 16th in league). The Eagles are dangerous with 12 interceptions on the season.
Calvin Johnson against Byron Maxwell and Golden Tate/Lance Moore against Eric Rowe or Nolan Carroll should be good matchups. The Eagles have strong LB coverage and solid safeties in Malcom Jenkins and Walter Thurmond (3 interceptions). Eric Ebron has cooled after a decent first half of the season with several drop filled games. Johnson and Tate and Riddick (or Moore) will need to carry the Lions pass offense again.
Lions Run Offense
The Lions showed signs of life running the ball against a bad Raiders rush defense. The Eagles allow 4.4 YPC (25th) and are susceptible in the run game to big chunks. Rookie Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Joique Bell must have another repeat efficient performance on Thursday.
Kicking and Return Game
Prater is a perfect 13/13 on the year in field goals but missed three extra points (one blocked). The Eagles have missed four field goals and two extra points. Sam Martin and Donnie Jones are above average punters.
The Lions have a dangerous return game with Ameer Abdullah on kickoffs and Golden Tate on punts. Darren Sproles is always dangerous on punt returns and the Eagles are 3rd in punt return average. Josh Huff is a decent return man on kickoffs.
The Eagles have allowed 21 sacks and turned the ball over 20 times this season (14 interceptions and 6 fumbles). Detroit has a good chance to force some turnovers against Sanchez (2 TDs and 4 interceptions with 6.5 YPA). Detroit has 24 sacks by their defense but forced only 11 turnovers.
The Eagles are dangerous forcing 21 turnovers (3rd) on the season with 12 interceptions and 9 fumbles recovered. The Lions have turned the ball over 21 times this season which is 31st in the league. This is a recipe for disaster if Detroit isn’t careful with the ball.
I’ll eat way too much turkey and pumpkin pie. Hopefully, the turkey doesn’t turn to crow after an Eagles win.