The Detroit Lions will attempt to get their once promising season back on track when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles. The Lions lost three straight games prior to last week's bye while the Eagles have lost two of their last three.
Even though Detroit has been reeling as of late, all three losses have come by just one score. It's a fact that should give the team hope that the adjustments it needs to make aren't major, with better performance in the fourth quarter being the most important one.
The Eagles should be a little more pleased with their performance to this point. The only losses they've suffered were road games against the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers. Yet, they still have the potential to become much better before season's end.
Let's take a glance at all the vital information for Sunday's game along with some storylines and players to watch as the Lions and Eagles face off.
Which team will pick up the victory?
Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa.
When: Sunday, Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. ET
Listen: WXYT 1270 AM (Detroit) or WIP 610 AM (Philadelphia)
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Betting Line: Eagles -4.5 (Vegas Insider)
Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
Lions: Cliff Avril (questionable, back), Louis Delmas (questionable, knee) and Amari Spievey (questionable, groin)
Eagles: Riley Cooper (questionable, collarbone) and Akeem Jordan (questionable, hamstring)
What's At Stake?
It's a crucial game for the Lions. They are coming off a bye week and have to start turning things around right away or their playoff hopes are going to fade away quickly. The schedule certainly doesn't get easier, so they have to start playing better.
Going on the road to beat the Eagles would give them not only some much-needed momentum, but also confidence that they can compete with other postseason contenders. Clearing that mental hurdle would be a big step in the right direction.
Although the game isn't as crucial for the Eagles, they are involved in a tight battle in the NFC East that will probably come down to the final week, which means every game holds value. Philadelphia also wants to enter its bye week on a high note, something Detroit didn't do.
Fantasy Player to Watch: LeSean McCoy
While McCoy has been a steady fantasy producer during the first five weeks, he's yet to have the explosive game owners were hoping for when they drafted him early. He's averaging 11 points per game, but hasn't scored more than 13 in any game.
On paper, it wouldn't seem like facing the Lions defense, which ranks sixth against opposing fantasy RBs, provides a chance for that big game. When you look deeper, however, the only player they totally shut down was the struggling Chris Johnson.
The other running backs who faced Detroit have been able to have some success. Given the fact McCoy can make an impact on all three downs, he should be able to post his best performance of the season in a game with shootout potential.
What They're Saying
Lions kicker Jason Hanson didn't sugarcoat his response while talking about the team's struggles on special teams early in the season, according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
We need to do it a little better and we need to cover better and all special teams need to get their act together because we're good, but we're garbage right now and we're killing our team.
"You've got to have a good mix," Reid said Monday when he was asked whether his offense had become too conservative. "You've got to have the blend of shots down the field, you've got to have that threat, you've got to have your short-intermediate game going, you've got to be able to move the pocket a little bit, and you've got to be able to run the football. We just have to do it better."
Lions Key Player: Matthew Stafford
Last season, Stafford averaged 315 yards per game and threw 41 touchdown passes. He's down to 296 yards per game this season and is only on pace for 16 touchdowns. Due to that drop off, it's not a surprise the Lions are struggling.
The biggest reason Stafford hasn't been able to replicate his monster season is defensive adjustments. Teams aren't worried about the Lions running game and that allows them to game-plan specifically for slowing down Stafford and top target Calvin Johnson.
Having a week off gave Stafford a chance to dissect what the defenses are doing to slow down the previously high-powered attack. He should be more prepared to take what the defense gives him starting against the Eagles.
How many times will the Eagles sack Stafford?
Eagles Key Player: Trent Cole
The Eagles only have seven sacks through five games after leading the league with 50 last season. Cole's lack of production (1.5 sacks) has been a major surprise given how consistent he's been over the past handful of seasons.
There has been no mention of injury, which means it should just be chalked up as a slow start. Getting him going again is a top priority for Philadelphia because the lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks will eventually catch up with them.
Knowing Cole's track record, it's only a matter of time before he starts making big plays again. Facing a Lions offensive line that's allowing Stafford to get sacked more than twice per game could be exactly the matchup he needs.
Lions 31, Eagles 28