Eagles-Lions Preview: Top 5 Intriguing Matchups to Watch

Kenny Golladay Matthew Stafford

Getty Detroit Lions WR Kenny Golladay and QB Matthew Stafford

The Philadelphia Eagles will look to bounce back from a devastating loss last week in Atlanta. They were literally one play away from notching their second win.

Now they have to put Nelson Agholor’s dropped ball out of their minds and focus on Detroit. The Lions boast one of the best quarterbacks in football, along with an improving young defense under head coach Matt Patricia. It won’t be easy. Then again, nothing ever is in the NFL.

The Eagles will be officially without wide receiver DeSean Jackson in this one, with huge question marks surrounding wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and tight end Dallas Goedert. The team is holding out hope they can play, but it doesn’t seem likely. Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, tackle Jordan Mailata and running back Corey Clement have also been ruled out.

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Top 5 Intriguing Matchups to Watch

1. WR Kenny Golladay vs. CB Ronald Darby

Golladay probably isn’t the Lions’ best receiver — that honor goes to Marvin Jones — but his size (6-foot-4) and speed (4.50) presents a major problem for most athletic corners. Especially for a guy like Darby who looks slower than normal as he fights back from a season-ending ACL injury. Darby was torched last week in his one-on-one matchup with Calvin Ridley and was caught napping against Julio Jones. Golladay scored the game-winning touchdown for Detroit last week when he outleaped the Chargers’ Casey Hayward on a 31-yard dime from Matthew Stafford. Advantage: Lions.

2. DE Trey Flowers vs. LT Jason Peters

The Lions spent big money on Flowers — five years, $90 million — and he has been eerily quiet in his first two games with zero sacks. The speedy defensive end is one of the best young pass-rushers in football as evidenced by his 21 sacks in his first four seasons. He was a big part of what made New England tick and the Eagles have familiarity with him from Super Bowl LII. Flowers recorded five tackles and two quarterback hits in that game but didn’t get a sack. Remember, the 37-year-old Peters was out for the Eagles’ 41-33 win so Halapoulivaati Vaitai gets a ton of credit for locking Flowers down. Advantage: Eagles.

3. CB Darius Slay vs. WR Nelson Agholor

Slay has jumped into the conversation among the very best cornerbacks in football. He has 18 career interceptions while qualifying for back-to-back Pro Bowls. He also has familiarity with the Eagles having picked off Carson Wentz to secure a 24-23 Lions’ win in 2016. But, Philly is licking their wounds at the skill positions. Alshon Jeffery still may start which would change the whole complexity of this matchup. For now, Agholor is locked in as the Eagles’ No. 1 receiver and he should be carrying a huge chip on his shoulder after dropping the would-be go-ahead touchdown last week. Earlier this week, he claimed he was the team’s “1A” option. Time to prove it. Advantage: Lions.

Eagles vs Lions | Darius Slay's game winning interceptionDetroit Lions corner back Darius Slay clinches the victory with a late interception of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. —I do not own this clip—-2016-10-09T21:27:51.000Z

4. RT Rick Wagner vs. DE Brandon Graham

Wagner saw a mildly concerning regression last year after a breakout 2017 campaign. According to Pro Football Focus, the right tackle allowed eight sacks while grading out poorly against the run. The Lions invested in a fifth-round pick at tackle, so Wagner has a lot to prove. He’ll face a stiff test in Graham who has blossomed into one of the most dynamic pass-rushers in the NFL. He has quietly amassed 42.5 career sacks, but his speed off the edge is unmatched. Graham is searching for his first sack of the season. Advantage: Eagles.

5. S Tracy Walker vs. TE Zach Ertz

This one comes with a huge, huge caveat: Walker won’t be alone in shadowing Ertz. Lions head coach Matt Patricia comes from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, one that always seeks to take away the opposition’s most dangerous weapon. With a depleted receiving corps, that is clearly Ertz. The tight end will be targeted early and often. Look for Detroit to pull Darius Slay off his man to help keep Ertz in check. It’s a common tactic that the Patriots have maximized over the years in neutralizing top tight ends like Antonio Gates, Travis Kelce, Jimmy Graham and others. Advantage: Eagles.

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