After a pair of sloppy starts, the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles are both 7-5 and sitting atop their respective NFC divisions. Consequently, the week 14 match up has quietly become one to watch in the national landscape.
Among some of the delicious subplots, will a pair of suspect secondaries hold up under the pressure of a rocket armed, Texas quarterbacks? Can one of those quarterbacks, Nick Foles, finally look human under pressure? Those are just some of the things to watch for on Sunday. Here's five other suggestions regarding what to watch in a major NFC match up.
1. Defensive Line Play. After a season of up and down defensive line play with regards to quarterback pressure, the Lions proceeded to go out and wreak havoc on the Green Bay Packers' offensive line and Matt Flynn, sacking him seven times. That effort had been hard to find for Detroit's pass rushers. Can they find the ability to get pressure this Sunday against Nick Foles and the Eagles? In order to prevent Foles from picking a dinged up secondary apart, Ziggy Ansah, Ndamukong Suh and company will have to be active.
2. Time Of Possession. The stat is fairly even between the teams, with only 43 seconds difference separating Philadelphia and Detroit. In a battle which could turn into a high scoring affair given each team's secondary issues, whomever has the edge in time of possession could end up winning the game. If the Lions are able to go on some longer drives and milk the clock with Joique Bell and Reggie Bush's tough running, they could be in a great position to win. The same is true for the Eagles and LeSean McCoy. Time, which waits for no one, will be big on Sunday.
3. Which Secondary Can Get The Most Stops? For each team's pass defense, it could get ugly on Sunday, considering the Lions and Eagles can each light up the air. Philadelhpia's pass defense is 32nd in the league, and Detroit's, while solid last week, hasn't been great even when everyone's healthy. This week, they could be without Chris Houston and Darius Slay, either of which could be hobbled if they manage to play. Whatever secondary is able to get more stops will help their entire defense be successful, considering the likes of Calvin Johnson and DeSean Jackson lurking around.
4. Nick Foles. The quarterback has been elite since getting the starting job, tossing 19 touchdowns with no interceptions. He's looked poised and confident in the pocket, and hasn't faced much pressure from opposing pass rushes. Can the Lions be the first to rattle Foles, or will he continue his great run of perfection? Foles is on an odd, interception free streak, which in the NFL is often the exception and not the rule. Look for him to take a small step back today in some form facing a tough defensive line which can force even the best quarterback into bad decisions.
5. The Kicking Of David Akers. Detroit worked out other kickers this week because of Akers' inaccuracy, but both the team and Akers downplayed the significance of the tryouts. Sunday could be a make or break moment for Akers, as he heads back to a field he knows very well to kick in a very important game. If Akers is not able to get the job done again and that costs the team a victory, the Lions may have to make a business decision regarding their kicker next week. Considering Akers should know the environment well, it might be a good bounce back week for the kicker.
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