Being undefeated entering Week Five was most likely not the popular prediction for the Philadelphia Eagles this season. An undefeated record, first place in the notorious battleground of the NFC East, and a masterful start to Carson Wentz’s rookie campaign are the highlights of the Eagles accolades so far. The Eagles travel to face the Detroit Lions, who have displayed some below average performances this year.
Philadelphia Eagles Week Five Keys to Victory
Contain Matthew Stafford’s Arm
The Eagles continue to be plagued by the poor play of defensive backs, despite the overall fantastic play by the rest of the defense. Deep balls and short, outside passes are the usual sore thumbs for the Eagles defense and the Detroit offense will look to capitalize on it. The speed of Golden Tate, the deep threat of Marvin Jones, and the reliability of veteran, Anquan Boldin are all viable options for Matthew Stafford to utilize in picking apart the Eagles secondary.
Stafford is having a surprisingly successful season thus far, ranking sixth in passing yards with seven touchdowns. This season, Stafford has made use of running backs coming out of the backfield and tight end matchups in his favor. Running back Theo Riddick and tight end Eric Ebron rank second and third on the team in receptions and receiving yards.
Veteran safety Malcom Jenkins will have to step up for the Eagles secondary. Stafford is known to take some shots down the field and he has proven he is not afraid to tuck the ball and escape the pocket if needed. Jenkins will have to run the whole defense from afar to keep everyone in check.
Take Advantage of Detroit’s Lackluster Running Game
The bottom third of the league is where the Detroit running game sits in the rankings. Theo Riddick receives most of the action running the ball, despite him regularly sharing snaps with Ameer Abdullah, prior to Abdullah’s injury. The offensive line can receive partial blame for the bad play of the running game and their job will not be any easier this week, as the Eagles bring in one of the NFL’s top defensive lines. Fletcher Cox headlines the line crew, along with Bennie Logan, Brandon Graham, and Connor Barwin. Cox and Graham have accounted for three sacks a piece so far and they look to add to that total Sunday.
The play of the Eagles linebackers has been below par up to this point and the latest distractions from Nigel Bradham are not helping the cause. Though their play as a group has not been eye popping, it will not be a big factor in stopping the struggling Detroit running game
Convert Red Zone Touchdowns
A good way to predict the winner of a game early in the first half is to look at the red zone scoring. Teams who fail to punch in touchdowns from inside the twenty yard line,and resort to kicking short field goals typically fall behind on the scoreboard rather quickly, and do not catch up. With the defensive linemen’s shadows in the endzone, most teams turn to the running game to put up six points.
The Eagles need to capitalize on their red zone appearances and score touchdowns, and not rely on the foot of Caleb Sturgis. Running the ball close to the goal line will be difficult however, as Detroit is one of only two teams to not surrender a rushing touchdown on the season, though their defense ranks towards the bottom of the league in most categories. The Eagles rank tenth in the NFL running the ball, and prior to Week Three, delegated most of the carries to Ryan Mathews, while other backs like Kenjon Barner, Darren Sproles, and rookie Wendell Smallwood supplied supportive roles.
After the Eagles rested during their early bye week, they have come back hungry to continue their shocking season. Not many predicted the Eagles to be undefeated going into Week Five but here they are, looking to cause more ruckus in the league.