After the first game of the season following the Philadelphia Eagles' blowout of the Washington Redskins, everyone was ready to jump on board with Chip Kelly's fast-paced, college offense. Then, reality (and losing) temporarily set in.
Things are different again now, however. After separate three and two game losing streaks, the Eagles have rattled off four wins in a row to sit atop the NFC East. Their offense pounds the ball on the ground while flying high through the air. Clearly, this isn't the same team the Lions played and beat last season in the exact same venue. Here's more about what makes the 2013 Eagles unique.
Eagles' Offensive Difference Maker: Nick Foles, QB. The Eagles have managed to find a quarterback this season in Foles, the tall, rocket armed play maker. Since taking over, he hasn't thrown an interception and has managed the ball well, firing 19 touchdowns. It will be up to the Lions' defensive line to manufacture some pressure on Foles in order to rattle him. If he's given a pocket, Foles could pick apart Detroit's secondary, which has been awful at times.
Eagles' Defensive Difference Maker: Trent Cole, LB. After a pretty average 2012 season, Cole has bounced back impressively in 2013, leading the Eagles in sacks with five and collecting three forced fumbles. Detroit will need to be carful of Cole roaming free and creating problems for Reggie Bush and the running game as well as Matthew Stafford and the passing game.
Eagles Major Problem: Pass defense. Going up against the Lions, a team with the second overall passing attack might prove challenging for the Eagles, a team which gives up a staggering 296 yards through the air. Philadelphia will have to find some way to limit the effectiveness of Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Stafford, Bush and company. If the Lions throw the ball all over the yard and are able to stop the run or get pressure on Foles in the meantime, the Eagles probably won't be able to survive a big time shootout.
Eagles Major Strength: Running game. LeSean McCoy is pounding the ball extremely well, leading a ground attack which has collected 1,762 yards, good for second in the league. The Lions defense is a stunning third in the league against the run, only allowing 992 yards on the ground. If the Eagles are able to crack the Lions on the ground, they will have a much easier time moving the ball, considering Detroit's secondary has been shaky much of the season.
Intangible: Detroit's extra preparation time. The Lions played on Thursday, thus allowing them time to sit back and watch the Eagles game against the Arizona Cardinals. That allowed the Lions to perhaps get an early look at what Philadelphia hopes to do offensively and defensively. Will the Lions be able to get a better understanding of what the Eagles like to do given the extra time? It could help them find a way to slow an offense which is picking up steam.
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