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Inside the Numbers: Time of Possession Could Play Biggest Role for Eagles and Lions on Sunday

December 7th, 2013 at 9:12 AM
By Max DeMara

After all the hubbub about Chip Kelly's up-tempo style, the Philadelphia Eagles' offense has run 975 plays from scrimmage this season, 101 less than the league leader New England Patriots' 1,076. As far as time of possession goes, Philadelphia isn't even close to leading the league.

'Eagles vs Redskins 10/16/11' photo (c) 2011, Matthew Straubmuller - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

In fact, the Eagles don't even hold the ball as long as their Sunday foe the Detroit Lions, having a total of 43 less seconds of possession than Detroit. Not only have the Lions run 62 more total plays, they've actually held the ball just a touch longer than Philadelphia, around 28:57 minutes a game when compared to 28:14, hence the 43 second difference.

This doesn't mean the Eagles are offensive slouches by any means, however. It's actually quite the opposite. It simply means that time of possession could be the key stat to watch this week as it relates to the Lions and Eagles doing battle. Philadelphia will want to score quick, which was always Kelly's hallmark while in college, and considering the Lions could be without either Chris Houston or Darius Slay thanks to injury, they might not have as much help on the back end as in recent weeks, meaning points could indeed come fast again for the Eagles.

To prevent that, the Lions should attempt to sustain some drives with their ground game, featuring Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Bell himself could end up playing the biggest role Sunday, as his bruising, churn out yards style will be perfectly suited for a ball control game, and Bush is still feeling the effects of a calf injury and considered questionable. Much like Philadelphia, Detroit's passing attack figures to be tough to contain considering the Eagles' similarly lowly secondary.

That's why this game will be won by whichever team is able to break the stalemate in time of possession. If the Lions can keep the Eagles from scoring quickly, pulling ahead and scoring more, they will have the inside track to winning, as will Philadelphia should they keep their ground attack going with LeSean McCoy and manage to possess the ball.

Considering all the similarities between both team's often elite offensive abilities, plays and time of possession will figure to play a bigger role this week than most. The team which leads both categories might also be taking home a critical, late season NFC victory.

Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on this site's Twitter @detroitlions101

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Tags: Chip Kelly, Chris Houston, Darius Slay, Detroit, Detroit Lions, Football, Joique Bell, LeSean McCoy, NFL, Reggie Bush

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