The Detroit Lions are the final remaining winless staff within the NFL. Coincidentally, the Detroit Pistons are the final winless staff remaining within the NBA, however that’s irrelevant proper now. The actual fact is that, regardless of the Lions document beginning with a zero, they’re among the best horrible groups we’ve seen in latest reminiscence.
Simply take a look at their roster. It’s not that unhealthy. Certain, they don’t have many confirmed receivers, however the energy of their offensive line, when wholesome, ought to theoretically give Jared Goff sufficient time to undergo his reads and discover open receivers. Or, on the very least, give the Lions’ receivers sufficient time to search out the holes in zone protection or beat their man. Whereas the protection remains to be extremely shaky in opposition to the move, their run protection has truly regarded higher than common at some factors. I imply, any staff that may maintain Lamar Jackson and the Ravens beneath 20 definitely doesn’t have a putrid run protection.
The Lions aren’t simply darling underdogs on paper. They’ve truly been statistical darlings, too. Regardless of holding the worst document within the NFL, the Lions aren’t truly final in any main statistical class (apart from defensive passer rating). They’re additionally the unluckiest team in the league, and that’s not just a few imprecise opinion I’ve. The luck score is set by a number of components, together with wrongful penalties (ones that ought to have been known as in opposition to the opposition) energy of schedule, and different occasions like unhealthy snaps on particular groups and, you realize, Justin Tucker nailing a record 66-yard field goal within the closing seconds of a sport. In 2021, the Lions (-1.7 luck score) have been affected by luck greater than some other staff within the league other than the Inexperienced Bay Packers (+2.2 luck score). That’s indicative of a staff that simply had a couple of unhealthy breaks, and is sure to even out considerably over the second half of the season.
I’m not going to say that each week has been fairly for the Lions. Nevertheless, they’ve put up first rate fights in opposition to a number of the greatest groups within the league, shedding by solely 9 factors to the Rams in a sport the place the Lions led going into the fourth quarter and shedding by simply two to each the Ravens and Vikings on last-second game-winning area targets. Head coach Dan Campbell may need some fascinating strategies, however you’ll be able to’t deny that this Lions staff feels totally different than those we’ve seen in recent times beneath Matt Patricia. This can be a staff that fights. This can be a staff that doesn’t hand over as a result of they’re completely outclassed by their opposition. This can be a staff that wishes to win in entrance of their dwelling crowd, and I’ve obtained a sense that it’s going to occur this Sunday.
I’ve written before about how I believe the Eagles have been vastly underrated this 12 months. They’ve put up good fights in opposition to a number of groups and have a really well-rounded offense able to driving the ball downfield in opposition to a number of the greatest defenses within the NFL. Nevertheless, the Lions match up terribly nicely with the Eagles.
Everyone knows how unhealthy Detroit’s receiving corps is. With Tyrell Williams on Injured Reserve, the staff is counting on the likes of Kalif Raymond and Amon-Ra St. Brown to create separation on the surface. The one actual threats within the Lions passing sport are tight finish TJ Hockenson and halfback D’Andre Swift. Fortunately for the Lions, The Eagles have struggled most in opposition to gifted tight ends and pass-catching halfbacks. The Eagles are one in all solely three groups within the NFL who’ve allowed six landing to opposing tight ends in 2021 (Texans and Ravens), and whereas they’ve finished pretty nicely at limiting tight ends when it comes to yardage, they’ve struggled at overlaying them generally, permitting the second-most receptions to opposing tight ends (46). Solely the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have allowed extra (48).
The Eagles have additionally allowed the fourth-most receptions to opposing working backs (49), and are one in all solely two groups (Texans) to have allowed over 800 yards on the bottom. The Eagles linebackers have been invisible for many of the season, and with a halfback as agile as D’Andre Swift, the Lions ought to be capable to preserve lengthy, regular drives, management the clock, and beat the Eagles protection into submission by the tip of 4 quarters.
Swift and Hockenson would be the key to beating the Eagles on Sunday, and I’m positive Campbell and firm know that. They’re in all probability drumming up a sport plan that closely includes each of them as we converse — however let’s be trustworthy, any sport plan that doesn’t revolve round your two greatest offensive gamers might be doomed to fail.
Whereas shedding to Detroit in any sport (baseball, hockey, basketball, or soccer) feels unhealthy these days, the Eagles mustn’t in the event that they lose this weekend. Detroit isn’t a great staff, however they’re much higher than folks notice. They definitely gained’t end the common season with zero wins and they won’t have the primary general decide in subsequent 12 months’s draft. Sunday might be proof of that.
Now that I’ve made that prediction, certainly, the Eagles will win by 30. That’s the way it at all times works, isn’t it?