Injury-riddled Eagles return home to face Lions
The Philadelphia Eagles return home to Lincoln Financial Field a group of banged-up-birds to host the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles (1-1) are coming off of a 24-20 defeat in Atlanta against the Falcons on "Sunday Night Football," while the Lions are feeling good about themselves after defeating the Los Angeles Chargers in a low-scoring affair last week. Detroit (1-0-1) will look to spring another upset, this time against a Philadelphia team dealing with a rash of injuries.
Detroit at Philadelphia
Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. ET
Spread: Eagles -6.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Eagles' aches and pains
Philadelphia lost to Atlanta this past Sunday night and it hurt. Literally. DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Dallas Goedert, and Corey Clement are among the Eagles dealing with injuries suffered against the Falcons. The injury bug is so prevalent right now that head coach Doug Pederson canceled practice on Wednesday and held a walkthrough instead because so many guys were either banged up or unable to go. Besides the names already mentioned, starting defensive linemen Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett also are dealing with their own injury issues. How the Eagles enter Sunday's matchup from a health and depth standpoint is the top thing to watch in this game.
2. Paging Carson Wentz, the MVP-caliber version
Wentz paid a couple of visits to the injury tent on Sunday night due to some hits he took during the game. But the good news for Philadelphia is not only was he able to finish the game, he also nearly pulled off another fourth-quarter comeback. However, a closer look at his numbers shows that Wentz has not played like his pre-injury 2017 version when he was making a strong case for MVP honors.
Through the first two games of this season, Wentz has a QB rating of 89.7 and already has taken some lumps. With a handful of his weapons dealing with injuries, it will be interesting to see how the franchise QB spreads the wealth to his cast of available playmakers. Look for a steady dose of Zach Ertz (who also took a shot to the ribs on Sunday) and Nelson Agholor, as Jackson is doubtful to play on Sunday (expected to miss more than one game with abdominal strain) and Jeffery is questionable because of a calf injury. It also would help if the Eagles could get their running game going. Philadelphia is averaging a mere 86 rushing yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry thus far.
3. Don't sleep on the Lions defense
When you think of the Detroit Lions you think of Matthew Stafford and him slinging the ball all over the field. While Stafford has been pretty good, with a QB rating of 102.0, it's the Lions defense that you should be keeping an eye on this Sunday. This unit is coming off of a week where they stifled Philip Rivers and company, holding the Chargers to 10 points in a 13-10 victory. Los Angeles moved the ball (424 total yards, 21 first downs) but Detroit mitigated the damage on the scoreboard and came up with two big takeaways. Trey Flowers' addition has strengthened a defensive front that also includes Damon Harrison and A'Shawn Robinson. Linebacker Devon Kennard has already registered three sacks and overall, this unit looks far better than some anticipated.
This should be a tightly contested game at Lincoln Financial Field. I expect it to be a one-possession contest and likely will be decided in the latter part of the fourth quarter. The difference here is Philadelphia's loud crowd, coming to life late in the game to help their team preserve a lead as Matthew Stafford tries to engineer a come-from-behind victory that falls short. This will be a close contest. Closer than the experts think, with Philadelphia prevailing on a turnover on downs from Detroit.
Prediction: Eagles 23, Lions 21
— Written by Nick Kayal, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network as a college football and NFL writer. Nick is a Morning Show Host in Nashville on 102.5 The Game. Follow him on Twitter @NickKayal.