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October 27, 2021

Eagles at Lions: Five matchups to watch

In Week 8, a pair of NFL juggernauts will square off, as the 0-7 Detroit Lions will host the 2-5 Philadelphia Eagles. As always, even if nobody cares anymore, our five matchups to watch.

1) The Eagles' 'bend and then bend some more' defense vs. the Lions' dink and dink passing game

Jared Goff is going to watch the Eagles' defense on film this week and think, "Ooh I hope they play that way against me!"

The Eagles have parked their safeties a mile off the line of scrimmage and given up free, easy completions in the short to intermediate areas of the field all season long. As you saw on Sunday against the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 31 of 34 passes (91.2 percent!)


That was nothing new this season:

Those four quarterbacks against whom the Eagles allowed a completion percentage of at least 80 percent were Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, and Carr, all of whom have big play weapons in the offenses.

Goff and the Lions do not have big play weapons in their offense. Goff is averaging 6.5 yards per pass attempt, and 9.8 yards per completion. Their top two receivers are RB DeAndre Swift and TE T.J. Hockenson, both of whom average under 10 yards per receptions. The receiver with the highest yards per catch average with at least 15 catches is Quintez Cephus, at just 13.6 yards per reception. That guy ran a 4.73 at the 2020 NFL Combine.

Goff does have a 66.1 percent completion percentage, which is in the same neighborhood as Carr (67.7%), Mahomes (67.5%), and Brady (67.0%). He loves working the short areas of the field, frankly because he kind of has to.


If the Eagles play the same soft foofy defense against the Lions that they have played again the majority of their other opponents this season and give Goff easy passes underneath all day, just fire everybody.

2) T.J. Hockenson and DeAndre Swift vs. the Eagles' linebackers

The Lions' two best players in the Lions' passing game are Swift and Hockenson, as noted above. Their numbers:

 Lions passing gameRec Yards YPC TD 
 RB DeAndre Swift42 391 9.3 
 TE T.J. Hockenson38 359 9.4 

Over the last two weeks, Carr and Brady have combined for 34 of 37 passing for 289 yards and 2 TDs when throwing to running backs and tight ends against the Eagles' defense. On the season, the Eagles are allowing a completion percentage of 81.7% to opposing running backs and tight ends.

MORE: Eagles power ranking roundup: Week 8 | NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 8 | Eagles trade QB Joe Flacco, claim QB Reid Sinnett

3) Where should the Eagles' defensive line be a'feastin'?

Everywhere. But they probably won't. This Lions O-line can run block a little, but it's a bad pass blocking line. It looks like this:

 Penei SewellJonah Jackson Evan Brown Halapoulivaati Vaitai Matt Nelson 

All-Pro C Frank Ragnow is done for the season after having surgery on his toe.

The Lions have allowed the sixth-most sack yardage (137 yards on 17 sacks) in the NFL this season. If Goff is getting the ball out quickly, get hands in passing lanes. If they're running screens, blow them up and put yourself in a situation to pin your ears back and rush the passer on the next play because you caused a long down and distance. There should be no excuses. As Jason Kelce once said, just play better.

4) The Eagles' passing offense vs. itself

The Lions' defense stinks, especially against the pass.

 Lions pass defenseStat Rank 
Yards per pass attempt 9.5 Worst in the NFL 
 Passing TDs allowed15 27th 
 Opposing QB rating114.2 Worst in the NFL 
 % of passes resulting in a first down40.3% 29th 
 Pass plays of 20+ yards32 30th 
 Pass plays of 40+ yards30th 
 Sacks14 T-18th 

They're also allowing 28.6 points per game (fifth-worst in the NFL).

I mean, they're 0-7. Against a downright bad defense, build a game plan around what you do well, and execute. Don't worry as much about what you think they're going to do to stop you, and build your game plan around that instead. This shouldn't be that hard.

5) Dave Fipp vs. Michael Clay

Remember Fipp? He was the Eagles' special teams coordinator from 2013 to 2020. In 2021, tbe Lions have the third-ranked special teams units in the NFL, according to DVOA.


Fipp gave the Lions a chance last Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, when his special teams units converted on two fake punts, and recovered an onsides kick. The Lions actually had a lead in the fourth quarter against the Rams, but it wasn't to be. 

Meanwhile, the Eagles beat the Carolina Panthers Week 5, largely because of a fake punt plan drawn up by Eagles special teams coordinator Michael Clay

In a matchup between a bunch of sucky offenses and defenses, maybe it will come down to a play on special teams.

MORE: WTS: No way to fix these Eagles after 'organization-wide embarrassment' | Week 8 NFL odds: Point spread and total for every game

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