NFL Week 8: Eagles have golden chance to rebound vs. winless Lions

Fletcher Cox Eagles
Eagles veteran defensive end Fletcher Cox
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Approaching the midway point of the 2021 NFL season and the Philadelphia Eagles are in the all-too-familiar position of fighting amongst the mediocrity that is the NFC East.

While the Dallas Cowboys run away with things, the Eagles, New York Giants, and Washington Football Team are all 2-5 and aren’t likely to offer much resistance throughout the remainder of the campaign.

But the Eagles have a golden opportunity to get back into the win column after two straight losses as they travel to Detroit to meet the winless Lions.

A convincing performance will at least hush concerns for a week, though the opposite will only put further pressure on first-year head coach Nick Sirianni and his coaching staff. Here’s what to watch for:

 

Defensive Drama

After they were thrashed for 33 points against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 7, a war of words began to break out within the Eagles’ ranks.

Veteran defensive end Fletcher Cox criticized defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, saying that the Eagles’ defense is too conservative.

“I don’t get paid to play screens,” Cox said. “I get paid to sack the quarterback, play in the backfield, tackle. I don’t get paid to play screens. We get screened all the time. Get out of stack and run to the football.”

Sirianni even took a dig at Gannon’s unit following the loss before backtracking on those comments earlier this week — even going on to say he has the “utmost faith” in the defensive coordinator.

Regardless of where the finger is pointing, the Eagles’ defense is one of the worst units in football. They’ve allowed the sixth-most points in the NFL, the 11th-most total yards, and the fourth-most rushing yards.

It certainly appears that the Lions could provide a reprieve for a beleaguered Eagles defense. Detroit’s attack ranks 26th in points scored, 15th in passing yards gained, and 22nd in rushing yards accrued. They’ve also been held to less than 20 points in each of the last six weeks.

Philadelphia Eagles running back Kenneth Gainwell (14) dives into the end zone on a 13-yard touchdown reception against the Las Vegas Raiders last Sunday.Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No Pushovers

The Eagles are favored to win this game, even on the road, but that doesn’t mean this will be a walk in the park against an 0-7 team.

Four of the Lions’ last five games have been losses by 10 points or fewer, including two-point heartbreakers to the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings. They even hung tough with the now 6-1 Los Angeles Rams in Week 7 in what was a 28-19 loss.

That’s a testament to what first-year head coach Dan Campbell has been able to do with one of the most untalented-looking rosters we’ve seen this decade around the NFL.

Still, this is an opportunity for the Eagles’ offense to find its bearings considering the Lions’ defense has allowed the fifth-most points in the NFL along with the eighth-most passing yards, and the 10th-most rushing yards.

Jalen Hurts could certainly use a big afternoon for his confidence, but there will be plenty of eyes on the Eagles’ ground attack.

With Miles Sanders out two to three weeks, No. 2 back Kenneth Gainwell should see an uptick in action. However, Sirianni called Boston Scott’s number more often after Sanders went down against the Raiders.

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