The Detroit Lions must put their three consecutive losses behind them and come out of the bye week with a convincing victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Playing on the road against a talented Eagles team will be difficult for the Lions, but Philadelphia has struggled recently as well, losing two of its last three games.
Detroit certainly has the offensive firepower to win this game, but it will have to limit the mistakes it has made earlier in the season and win key matchups.
Here are the battles that the Lions must win in order to avoid falling to 1-4 on the season.
Calvin Johnson vs. Eagles’ Red Zone Defense
Calvin Johnson is the most potent offensive weapon in football, but he only has one touchdown reception this season.
The Lions have put the ball in his hands frequently, and Johnson ranks third in the NFL in yards per game. But going forward, the team must figure out ways to find him in the end zone.
Johnson receives incredible amounts of attention from opposing defenses, and the Lions have been content with using him as a decoy. The team must get more creative with the way they use Johnson, in addition to simply taking chances and trusting that he will make a play.
The Lions will not win this game, or many more this season, if they cannot start getting Johnson in the end zone. The All-Pro wide receiver’s impact on this game will be a vitally important factor in deciding the outcome.
Mikel Leshoure vs. Eagles Run Defense
The Lions will have a significantly easier time finding space for Calvin Johnson if they can get running back Mikel Leshoure involved early.
In his first game back, he rushed for 100 yards on 26 carries, but followed that performance by gaining just 26 yards on 13 carries while also losing a fumble against.
After one impressive performance and one disappointing day, Leshoure must prove that the Detroit offense is capable of employing a multifaceted attack.
The Turnover Battle
How many turnovers will Philadelphia commit in this game?
Turnovers have plagued the Eagles this season and the Lions must take advantage of their opponent’s most glaring weakness.
Philadelphia’s 14 turnovers is the second-highest total in the NFL, but Detroit’s three takeaways are tied for the lowest total in the league. If the Lions cannot find ways to create turnovers against the Eagles, it will be difficult to win this game.
The Eagles have kept their matchups close despite being so careless with the ball, and the team has left its frustrated fans wondering how strong it could be if it limited these mistakes.
The Lions’ must not let the Eagles find out their potential and cannot allow the Philadelphia offense to play out this game without committing turnovers.