October 28, 2021
After suffering another bad defeat last week, the Eagles will look to bounce back as they travel to Detroit to face the winless Lions. And if you thought things looked bleak in Philly on the heels of that Raiders loss, just imagine what it will look like if they hand the Lions their first win of the season.
Putting even more pressure on Nick Sirianni and Co. is that for the first time all year, the Birds are actually expected to win a game, coming in as favorites after seven straight games playing the underdog. But all that actually matters is that they pick up the win — covering would just be the cherry on top. The Eagles desperately need a victory as things begin to look worse and worse with each passing game, and that's the exact opposite of what Philly fans were hoping to see in this year of "transition," as Jeffrey Lurie dubbed it.
Back in the offseason, we tried to temper fans expectations by telling them not to worry about the wins and losses, instead focusing on the overall picture of the team and whether or not they appeared to be trending in the right direction, improving week to week and providing some hope that the team would be better at the end of the year than it was at the beginning, and had the potential to be even better in 2022. So far, for anyone who has watched this team play even a little bit, it's clear that has not been then case.
Unfortunately, this team actually looks worse than it did back in Week 1, a blowout win over the Falcons that now looks like an outlier (not to mention an indictment on Atlanta).
So, will the Birds bounce back with a win in their first game of the season as favorites? Or will this coming Monday be even worse for Philly than the one that just passed? Is that even possible? Here's a look at how our writers see Eagles vs. Lions playing out on Sunday afternoon...
TV: FOX (Kenny Albert and Jonathan Vilma)
RADIO: 94.1 WIP (Merrill Reese and Mike Quick)
The Lions have lost some heartbreaking games this season.
• In Week 3, they were cheated out of a win against the Ravens, when a clear delay of game penalty was not called on Baltimore, opening the door for a 66-yard field goal attempt, which Justin Tucker made.
• In Week 5, they scored a late TD, and down one point they decided to go for two and the win, which they converted, only to watch as the Vikings drove 46 yards in 30 seconds for a 54-yard field goal attempt, which Greg Joseph made.
• In Week 7, the Rams held a six-point lead with about five minutes to play, and the Lions were in position to go up by one with a TD + PAT. They had 1st and 10 from the Rams' 12 yard line, but a Jalen Ramsey INT ended that threat.
Yes, the Lions are a bad football team. So are the Eagles. But at least the Lions seem to give maximum effort each week, while there have been some glimpses of Eagles players — notably Fletcher Cox — beginning to check out. I'll take the scrappy bad team over the lethargic bad team.
From everything I have seen, the Lions are an extremely popular pick this weekend and the Detroit-Philly line seems to be moving all over the place. And from a bettors perspective, it makes sense. The Lions have come close many times to winning their first game and the Eagles have been awful in their last couple losses, and surely offer Detroit its best chance to get in the win column.
However, I still think the Eagles are a tier above being among the NFL's worst, and with games ahead against the Jets, Broncos, Giants (twice) and Washington (twice), I truly do believe that this is a team that will backdoor its way into finishing the season with 7 or 8 wins. I am predicting a change in narrative and a solid victory — though by less than a touchdown. But if I am wrong, and Philly does lose to the 0-7 Lions, there really is no hope for Nick Sirianni.
Everything in the universe is screaming for an Eagles loss on Sunday. Everything, that is, except the opponent. Sure, as my colleague Jimmy Kempski pointed out, the Lions have lost some close games in heartbreaking fashion, but there's also a reason they've lost each of those games — they're a bad team. If they weren't, you'd think they would've at least won one of them. Instead, they're 0-7 and still looking for their first win.
So, here I am, the idiot picking the Eagles for the second week in a row. But there's a reason. I was all ready to pick the Lions to win this week, then the Eagles lost to the Raiders. It just made too much sense to me that the Eagles would go out to Vegas and upset the Raiders only to follow that up with a loss to the lowly Lions. It's why I picked the Eagles last week, already banking on that win in Vegas. Instead, they did the opposite, and so I'm going to adjust my pick accordingly. I'm not going on the matchup or on the X's and O's, but on the feel.
Everything feels like it's working against the Birds right now, from their on-field play to Nick Sirianni's ... uh ... interesting press conferences. And that's typically when a team like this pulls out a win, when you least expect it. And they have the opponent to do so. I had Philly going 1-1 in this two-week stretch against the Raiders and Lions, so I'm going to stick with that even if losing to a winless team the first time you're a favorite all season sounds like something the Eagles would do.
Getting to bet against an 0-7 team is usually an easy call — especially when a point spread is not involved — but the Eagles have really made me think about this one with their performances (and press conferences) lately. Not sure whether we're going to watch a football game or a horticultural society meeting this weekend. Maybe both?
Begrudgingly, I will take the Eagles here. The Lions stink, though Dan Campbell has had them competitive in a lot of games and has earned praise for the tricks and deception he has used to try to overcome their talent deficit against better teams. Maybe that will be enough to put Detroit over the top this week, but maybe the Eagles will finally bloom after seven weeks of water and sunlight. They've been mostly okay against bad teams this year.
Yes, I think the Eagles are that bad, and the Lions may not be as bad as the Eagles. Detroit is winless against seven teams that have a combined 30-17 record, and five of the seven are .500 or better. They were beaten by an NFL-record 66-yard field goal kicked from the parking lot and gave the Rams all kinds of trouble last week, before falling.
The Lions are playing hard for rookie coach Dan Campbell and I don't think I can say the same about Nick Sirianni, who I have a strong feeling there will be information trickling out after the season how the players began to doubt him and when.
We're starting to see the fissures in the wall already. Sirianni was dealt a bad hand, made worse by the overwhelming fact he is a novice playing under the scrutiny of a skeptical, fanatical fanbase.
The blame for the Eagles' problems lie elsewhere—far above the field.
This season is a clever tank job masked under the guise of an inexperienced coach and an aging, expensive veteran corps. That will manifest itself this Sunday when the Eagles become the first victims of the hapless Detroit Lions.
Eagles' owner Jeffrey Lurie said as much back in January, using "retooling" and "transition" in describing the Eagles' future. He should have just came out and said "We're tanking this season."
It sure looks like it.
The Eagles are a mess. The find new ways to lose, be it aborting what’s actually working in-game or just not showing up with any plan at all. They get all their productivity after the game is mostly in-hand, save for one comeback against the lowly Panthers. Detroit gets up on teams then blows leads. It’s one of those games where something has to give.
The Lions getting the hook is enough for me to take the 3.5 points, but why stop there? What exactly has this Eagles team done to allow you to be so secure they won’t be the first team to lose to Detroit? Nothing. Lions win. Lions win. The LLLLLLL-ions win.
Call it Flower Power vs. Biting Kneecaps and we all know which one most of the City of Philadelphia would want leading its team but technically neither form of messaging is working just yet for the 2-5 Eagles and the 0-7 Lions. There's a lesson in there in that personnel trumps everything else in the NFL. For what it's worth, though, multiple Eagles sources confirmed that Nick Sirianni's much-ballyhooed flower speech went over like gangbusters behind the scenes, albeit with plenty of F-bombs accentuating what you heard in a public setting. When it comes to this week, it's going to be about two mistake-prone teams with young players in key positions battling over who makes fewer mistakes over 60 minutes. Many in Detroit feel this is the week a Lions team which has been close in a number of games gets over the top against an Eagles club trying to halt the outside noise that will be turned up to a Spinal Tap-like 11 if SIrianni didn't find enough fertilizer and water this week to hold off a winless club. Figure on the Eagles winning a close one because the Lions usually invent ways to lose.
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