After a dominant Thanksgiving day win over the Packers, the Detroit Lions are back to being the odds-on favorite to win the NFC North.
With four games to go, the Lions can wrap up the division with three wins. Even at 2-2, either the Bears or Packers would need a miracle 4-0 finish to overtake them.
But right now, the Lions aren’t interested in four-game scenarios, because they can make most of them irrelevant with a win over the red-hot Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are riding high on a four-game winning streak, thanks in large part to Nick Foles’ unreal streak.
This looked like a very different game earlier in the season, when it looked like the Lions would go up against the erratic Michael Vick and the inept Eagles offense. Now, their defense is better, and their offense has been one of the league’s best under Foles, making them one of the toughest tests the Lions have faced all year.
How tough? This tough.
Detroit Lions’ NFL Rankings
It turns out that dominant 30-point victories result in big jumps in statistical rankings. Go figure.
The Lions did not regress in a single category following their win over the Packers, and even some of their weaker areas are starting to climb in effectiveness. Of course, it seems more likely that this jump is more of a statistical outlier than part of some sort of trend, but it looks good regardless.
Unsurprisingly, this looks like a matchup in which offenses will dominate. The Eagles’ defense is statistically one of the worst in the league in several areas, but is surprisingly 16th in scoring allowed. They appear, like the Lions, to be a team that plays the “bend-don’t-break” style of defense.
The difference comes in the one area the Lions didn’t improve in last week: turnovers. The Eagles take care of the ball and force turnovers. The Lions do neither (at least consistently). After seven weeks of football, the Lions had a +5 turnover margin, 6th-best in the NFL.
In five games since then, their margin is -13. Miraculously, the Lions are 3-2 in that span, but they can’t possibly expect that to continue, especially against winning teams.
Once again, a matchup to watch is in the opposing ground game. The Lions have fielded a suffocating run defense for weeks now, shutting down guys like Eddie Lacy, Matt Forte, and Le’Veon Bell. They haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher all season. But LeSean McCoy is a different animal. If the Lions can shut him down, they can focus on pressuring Foles, and possibly even cooling him off a bit.
Detroit Lions Fantasy Corner
Despite Reggie Bush playing the entire game, Joique Bell ended up with one of his better performances of the year as the Lions proceeded to run all over the Packer defense. He remains a risky Fantasy play every week though, as it’s impossible to tell whether the Lions will actually give him touches. It’s equally hard to tell which Eagles defense will show up this weekend.
After a strong game in his return from injury, Nate Burleson put up a big goose egg against the Packers. Granted, the Lions didn’t end up needing him, but this is always the rub with Burleson. You can get zero points out of him just as easily as 20. Don’t expect that to change in your Fantasy playoffs.
Sleeper Pick for Week 13
It’s Week 14. Are you really in the mood for Fantasy sleepers? There isn’t a good Fantasy matchup to be had against the Eagles this week. Sure, Dorin Dickerson and Kevin Ogletree had big plays against the Packers last week, but it’s just plain irresponsible to suggest they will again this week. Joseph Fauria is always an option, but he’s just as inconsistent as the rest, and the Eagles give up the third-fewest Fantasy points to tight ends. So yeah, this week maybe you just go with your proven guys.
19-0 — Nick Foles’ TD-INT ratio this season
2544 — Combined total yardage for Eagles’ LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson
2601 — Combined total yardage for Lions’ Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson
17 — Sacks on Foles in seven games played (five starts)
15 — Sacks on Matthew Stafford in 12 starts
0 — Teams with a winning record left on the Lions’ schedule after Philadelphia (Baltimore is currently 6-6, so they may turn out to be an exception)
6 — Interceptions for DeAndre Levy, (leads all NFL defenders)
6 — Interceptions for Lions other than Levy
3 — Interceptions by Lavonte David and Danny Trevathan, the NFL’s second-leading INT-getters from the OLB position
4 — Turnovers by the Lions against the Packers
4 — Takeaways by the Lions in the last six games combined