The Philadelphia Eagles technically hold the NFC East lead through five weeks, but they have an opportunity to actually separate themselves from the New York Giants in the win-loss column this weekend.
The Giants could be in trouble out in San Francisco, giving the Eagles a chance to gain a game atop the division with a home victory over the Detroit Lions. Here's my final look at the matchup, along with a prediction that you should not act on.
What Philadelphia must do to win, offensive edition
Attack a weak secondary, taking advantage of a tepid pass rush that has failed to make plays thus far. This should be easier with Jeremy Maclin now healthy and Michael Vick starting to find a groove.
What Philadelphia must do to win, defensive edition
Contain Calvin Johnson. He'll inevitably make some plays, but the key is to not let the league's most dangerous receiver take over the game completely.
How Philadelphia can lose
By turning the ball over at the same rate they did during the first three games of the season.
Five most important non-quarterbacks
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Demetress Bell, Todd Herremans, Trent Cole, Jason Babin
Boy, is that Kevin Kolb trade looking nice now. DRC will literally be the most important player Sunday not named Vick. He has to handle Calvin Johnson, and I think he has the game to keep up.
Bell and Herremans are crucial cogs each week as they try to protect Vick.
Cole and Babin will need to step up to fluster Matthew Stafford in order to help Rodgers-Cromartie and the rest of the defensive backs.
Injury analysis, Eagles edition
Probable: Colt Anderson (knee), Jason Avant (wrist), Bryce Brown (shoulder), Riley Cooper (collarbone), Jon Dorenbos (ankle), King Dunlap (hamstring), Stanley Havili (quadricep), Akeem Jordan (hamstring), Mychal Kendricks (ankle), Derek Landri (knee), Darryl Tapp (foot)
Cooper and Dunlap are back in case anything happens to a receiver or a tackle (particularly Bell), but neither should be factors if things go as planned. Jordan's return will give the linebacking corps a boost, but don't look past the contributions he makes on special teams too.
Injury analysis, Lions edition
Out: Corey Williams (knee)
Questionable: Cliff Avril (back), Louis Delmas (knee), Sammie Lee Hill (toe)
With Williams out and Hill questionable, the Eagles could have a chance to really get the running game going against a thin group of defensive tackles.
Probable: Travis Lewis (quadricep), Brandon Pettigrew (knee), Amari Spievey (groin), Titus Young (knee)
Pettigrew and Young are factors. Both are getting healthier.
B/R NFC East Blog prediction
I just don't think the Eagles have the teeth on defense to take advantage of Philly's turnover habit. And beyond the turnovers, the Eagles have been making strides the last couple weeks. They're healthier now too. Another bounce-back victory.
Eagles 26, Lions 20
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