Philadelphia Eagles coaches Chip Kelly and Bill Davis have their work cut out for them this week against the Detroit Lions. Davis is taksed with slowing down Detroit’s explosive offense and Kelly will need to find a way to exploit the Lions’ stout, but vulnerable defense.
The biggest keys to this game will be converting red zone opportunites into touchdowns, pressuring Matthew Stafford, forcing turnovers, stopping the Lions’ offense on third down, and finding a way to score points in the fourth quarter.
That last one may be the most important factor in this game and it’s something the Eagles haven’t been able to do as of late. They were fortunate against Arizona last week with some late game penalties going their way and the Cards’ offense isn’t even quite as explosive as Detroit’s.
In fact, Detroit has some impressive statistics to back up what we’ve been seeing from them this season…
The Lions are ranked second in the NFL in total offense (total yards) and fourth in points with 326. More importantly, they are very efficient in the red zone.
They are third in the NFL in total red zone points with 235 and fifth in TD efficiency by converting 61.7% of their trips to the red zone into touchdowns. The Lions also rank fifth in the NFL in second half scoring by averaging 13.3 points per game.
In contrast, the Eagles’ offense is ranked third in total yards and eighth in total points with 300. Though it has been better since Nick Foles took over, the Eagles still only rank 29th in red zone efficiency in scoring a TD on just 46.15% of their possessions in this area.
The Eagles are ranked 17th in the NFL in second half scoring with an average of 11.7 points per game. However, the fourth quarter, aka “money time”, is where the two teams drastically differ.
Detroit ranks fourth overall by averaging 7.9 points per game in the fourth quarter while the Eagles rank just 25th with an average of a paltry 4.8 points. The last time the Eagles scored an offensive TD in the fourth quarter was way back on October 13th against Tampa.
That is something that will almost certainly have to change this week in order to win the game.
On the defensive side of the ball, Detroit has been surprisingly stout in red zone defense. They’ve only allowed a red zone TD on 38.7% of opponents’ possessions. And oddly enough, they’re even better away from their dome as that percentage drops to just 26.32% in road games.
The Lions also are ranked first overall in third-down defense in allowing just a 30.6% conversion rate.
Conversely, the Eagles’ defense is ranked a healthy eighth in red zone scoring by allowing TDs at a rate of 48.65%. Unfortunately, they rank just 26th in third-down defense in allowing a 40.68% conversion rate.
Where the Eagles have a distinct advantage is in the turnover department.
Detroit ranks just 26th in turnover differential at -8. Not as bad as the Eagles the last few years but still not good. The Eagles, on the other hand, are ninth in the NFL with a +7 differential.
Matthew Stafford will throw interceptions and Reggie Bush could be a fumble waiting to happen.
All in all, the Lions have a pretty good team. Their offense can put up points in bunches and their defensive front seven is pretty damn good at stuffing the run and getting after the QB.
What they lack is consistency. They look dominant at times and sloppy at others. Stafford is a “gunslinger” and not afraid to take chances. Calvin Johnson is an unstoppable beast. Their defensive interior makes life miserable for running backs and Ziggy Ansah is having a tremendous impact off the edge.
When the Lions are on, they’re pretty good. However, they are known to have severe lapses.
The Eagles must be on their toes and going full speed for every second of the 60 minutes of game clock. They cannot afford to be lulled into any sense of security if they have a lead and/or the Lions appear to be in one of their lapses.
In summary, the Eagles must win the red zone battles on both sides of the ball, perform better defensively on third downs, create turnovers and finally…score some damn points in the fourth quarter!