Saturday, February 13, 2016

Eagles-Lions predictions

JEFF MCLANE Record, 1-4

Eagles-Lions predictions

Michael Vick and Matthew Stafford will square off Sunday as the Eagles host the Lions. (Staff and AP Photos)
Michael Vick and Matthew Stafford will square off Sunday as the Eagles host the Lions. (Staff and AP Photos)

Record, 1-4

Week 6: The Eagles appear to have shaken off the Lincoln Financial Field blues and have now won four straight at home. The Lions have claimed only one of their last seven, including last season's playoff loss at New Orleans, on the road. That one victory was at Oakland, so take it with a crumble of corn bread.

The Lions may be 1-3, but they aren't as poor as their record would seem to indicate. But you what you're record says you are and even though Detroit has surrendered six returns -- four on special teams -- for touchdowns, those points count just the same as the others. The Lions should be getting a couple of key players back on defense with safety Louis Delmas and defensive end Cliff Avrilreturning from injury. Delmas should help a pass defense that hasn't netted an interception all season. Avril is only a slight upgrade over his replacement.

The Lions still have a number of talented players. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is as good as they come. He's still getting his catches and yards despite double teams, but has found the end zone only once. Opposing defenses have been able to umbrella a Lions offense that can't sustain a ground game. If the Eagles can keep Johnson in check and from scoring they could wrap this baby up by halftime. That's a significant-sized if. Still, the book calls for either Nnamdi Asomugha or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie(I'd go with DRC) to blanket Megatron with safety help. The Eagles should have employed a similar tactic against Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals three weeks ago, but they didn't and it cost them.

More coverage
Video: Three keys to Eagles-Lions
Birds losing turnover battle
Les Bowen: Vick working on fumble woes

I don't think Juan Castillo -- er, Todd Bowles -- makes the same mistake twice. Eagles 30, Lions 17.

What goes right: Michael Vick protects the football and does not have any turnovers.

What goes wrong: Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew creates headaches for Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks

Record, 3-2.

Week 6: Don't be misled by the Lions' record or statistics. This is a team that made the postseason in 2011 and appeared to be ascending. They allow 28.5 points per game, although that includes four special teams touchdowns and two defensive touchdowns. So the defense is actually keeping offenses to 18 points per game, which is a bit more reasonable. They're also healthier now than before the bye week, and the extra time to prepare is often advantageous. For that reason, don't anticipate a blowout. In fact, this will be the fifth time in six weeks that an Eagles game comes down to the final drive.

Unlike last week, expect the Eagles to come out on top. There is a few reasons for this: the Lions' secondary is vulnerable, allowing quarterbacks to average a 101.3 passer rating and failing to swipe an interception all season. The Eagles can take advantage, and it's about time for DeSean Jackson to catch a deep home run pass and Jeremy Maclin to accumulate receptions. Also, look for LeSean McCoy to have a better game catching the ball out of the backfield. The Wide-9 that Detroit utilizes can hinder long outside runs, which are a McCoy staple, but the Eagles can find McCoy in the flat or on a late-developing screen.

The key, as is the case every week, is Vick limiting turnovers. Don't expect a multiple-fumble game. His current rate is difficult for even he to maintain, and his struggles are not lost on him. He rebounded from the Cleveland game with a better performance against Baltimore and from the Arizona game with a better performance against the Giants. Look for Vick to take better care of the ball and the Eagles to enter the bye week with a 4-2 record. Eagles 30, Lions 27

What goes right: Vick limits his turnovers, Asomugha quiets critics with a better performance and Maclin and McCoy are the two leaders in receptions for the Eagles.
What goes wrong: The offensive line continues to struggle and Lions tight end Pettigrew hurts the Eagles in the middle of the field.
Staff Writer
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Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

Jeff McLane Staff Writer
Zach Berman Staff Writer
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