Eagles and Lions Crank Up Desperation
This week feels a lot like last week for the Eagles, as they face a desperate team coming off of its bye. Last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers avoided a 1-3 start with a 16-14 win over the Eagles at Heinz Field. This week, the Lions hope to turn things around after a 1-3 start of their own as they visit Lincoln Financial Field.
Philadelphia tries to match the intensity Detroit is likely to bring today, to avoid dropping to 3-3.
“4-2 is a big difference from .500,” said Eagles right tackle Todd Herremans.
“You get to this point in the season and I think a lot of teams have must wins,” said Eagles tight end Brent Celek. “It’s a must win for us too. We’re in the same position they are, we’ve got to want more.”
The Eagles and Lions are two of the four teams in the NFL ranked in the top 11 in both total offense and total defense, but it's been other areas that have given them issues.
The Eagles need to improve their turnover problems, as they're second in the league with 14 turnovers. That's caused the Eagles to drop to 31st in the league with just 16 points per game.
“All year, we’ve gotten down there and turned the ball over and it’s just that simple,” said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
This week, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick tried a creative approach to focusing on turnover reduction.
The Lions present an opportunity to turn the corner, as they only have three takeaways this year.
Their issue has been special teams, where they're giving up more than 32 yards per kickoff return (31st in the NFL) and more than 27 yards per punt return (32nd in the NFL). The Lions have given up six touchdowns while their defense wasn't on the field: four from kick or punt returns, one fumble return and one interception return.
Offensively, Detroit ranks third in total yards per game with more than 412 and tied for 11th with 25 points per game. The Eagles know they need to slow down wide receiver Calvin Johnson to have a chance to keep the Lions offense in check.
“Just got to put a couple people on him, just got to go and take him out the game," said Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. "Don’t even allow him to get started, frustrate him early.”
Ultimately, though, this could be a game decided by one of the most talked about statistics in the NFL and one that usually flies under the radar: turnovers and special teams.
Ryan Messick covers the Eagles for 97.3 ESPN FM. Follow him on Twitter.