One of the beauties of the NFL is the unpredictability. You never know … any given Sunday, right?
We’ll try to simplify that process. Or perhaps complicate it. We present three predictions Eagles fans will like and three they won’t like about Sunday’s game at Detroit.
3 PREDICTIONS YOU WILL LIKE:
1. EAGLES WILL WIN THE GAME
It won’t be easy, but they will squeak by.
Led by coach Dan Campbell — a hard-core motivator — the Lions will be breathing fire. You know this if you watched HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”
Campbell will oversell this game as a season-maker: Win Week One, start the season with momentum and let’s see where that takes us.
Week One might be the most difficult one in which to play Detroit. The Lions have improved from last year and a revenge game at home gives them the perfect opportunity to show their standing-room only crowd that this is a new era of Lions football.
If the Eagles are indeed ready to win the NFC East, this is a game they should win. Thinking it will be 27-17, Eagles, in a game with some unexpected tense moments.
Realistically, this is an Eagles’ game to lose. The Eagles are division title hopefuls. The Lions are the Lions — 3-13-1 last season. Seems like too much of a gap to close in one year.
2. HURTS WILL LOOK GREAT
The Lions defense was ranked 31st last season. When the teams played on Oct. 31, the Eagles won, 44-6. The loss left the Lions with an 0-8 record.
We’ve only seen Jalen Hurts in one series since January. He blew away the Jets in the first preseason game, completing 6-of-6 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.
Reports out of camp say Hurts has improved in all aspects of his game and is ready to take a huge leap in performance this year.
What better time than the season opener?
If Hurts has a big game, he will utilize big weapons A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, plus tight end Dallas Goedert over the middle.
The run game will be effective and provide a constant threat to the defense. If the run game is working, that should force the linebackers closer to the line of scrimmage.
Miles Sanders is “ready to go.” A healthy Sanders can give balance to the offense and a strong running game can wear down the Lions’ defense.
That would leave Hurts more room to maneuver in the passing game.
3. THE EAGLES WILL CONTROL THE BALL, CLOCK AND GAME
In last year’s game, the Eagles rushed for 236 yards, well above their average of 159.7 per game. They controlled the time of possession: 35 to 25 minutes. They had 27 first downs to the Lions’ 15.
Hurts didn’t do much through the air because he didn’t have to. He completed 9-of-14 passes for 103 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions.
Hurts did the most damage on the ground, rushing for 71 yards on seven carries.
Boston Scott gained 60 yards on 12 carries, and Jordan Howard (no longer present) gained 57 yards on 12 carries. Scott and Howard each scored two rushing touchdowns.
I think the plan is to run the ball and pass with impunity.
3 PREDICTIONS YOU WILL NOT LIKE:
1. SAFETIES NEED HELP
The Eagles made multiple moves to try to improve the safety position — including a trade for Chauncey Gardner-Johnson less than two weeks ago.
Did they do enough? Have the players been together enough in practice to work cohesively? Can they stop a long pass play? Will they make the sure tackle in the secondary?
Can the defense stop Detroit’s effective tight end T.J. Hockenson?
Can they stop D’Andre Swift (St. Joseph’s Prep) on the ground and catching passes out of the backfield? If Swift pops a run through the line, will the safeties be there to stop him?
2. REVENGE GAME
The Lions’ coaching staff has plenty of Eagles connections.
Duce Staley, overlooked in his quest to become Eagles head coach, is the assistant head coach/running backs coach.
Hank Fraley coaches the offensive line.
Dave Fipp coaches the special teams.
Teams want to win every week in the parity-laden NFL. Some weeks have a special edge to them. With so many Eagles-Lions connections, this will be emotional, high-strung game.
Plus, the Lions just signed Eagles back-up quarterback Nate Sudfeld, whose last year in Philly was 2020, Doug Pederson’s final year.
3. LIONS WIN! (OUCH)
The Lions, in front of a sold-out Ford Field, will pull it out in the fourth quarter. This is the first non-Thanksgiving Day sellout in Detroit since 2017.
Quarterback Jared Goff will play well enough, and he’ll lead Detroit on a long drive late in the fourth quarter. The Lions will be in this position if they win the turnover battle, always a great equalizer in the NFL.
Should the Eagles lose, it feels like a 24-20 game.