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Season Preview: Week 14 Vs. Lions

Posted Jul 6, 2013

It was a forgettable game in a forgettable season.

The Eagles led the Detroit Lions 23-13 with 5:18 remaining in the game after a 70-yard touchdown pass from Michael Vick to Jeremy Maclin. The Eagles were poised to go to 4-2 and remain in position to contend.

However, the defense fell apart and the Eagles would eventually lose 26-23 in overtime. It was the second of eight straight losses for the Eagles.

As big of a win as it was for the Lions, they didn't fare much better down the stretch. Detroit would only win two more games the rest of the season. The Lions did have the toughest schedule in the league last season. When these two teams square off to begin the final quarter of the season, it will be the first of three straight NFC North matchups for the Eagles.

The Lions didn't have a coaching change this offseason, but they've overhauled the locker room after losing a considerable amount of players including both starting offensive tackles - Gosder Cherilus and Jeff Backus - and both starting defensive ends - Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch.

Detroit still has one of the most explosive quarterback-wide receiver combinations in Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Stafford has one of the biggest arms in the league and has proven to be durable after some questions earlier in his career. The former No. 1 overall pick nearly threw for 5,000 yards for a second straight season in 2012, but his touchdown total was cut by more than half from 41 in 2011 to 20 last season.

Johnson, a future Hall of Fame receiver, has remarkably improved his receiving yardage totals in each of the past three seasons. Last year, Johnson set an NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards. However, Megatron's touchdown total dropped from 16 in 2011 to just five last season.

The Lions were third in the league in yards per game, but they ranked 23rd in rushing. To resolve that, they signed Reggie Bush, who transitioned from a satellite player in New Orleans to an every-down back in Miami. However, the Lions still need to hope for improvement from the offensive line. Last year's first-round pick Riley Reiff is slated to play one of the tackle spots, but there are still question marks along the line.

On defense, the Lions have two outstanding interior linemen in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, who dominated in the game against the Eagles last season. They also signed Jason Jones, who may start at end but would arguably be a better fit working on the inside. Detroit also signed free agent safety Glover Quin, formerly of the Texans, to pair with talented but oft-injured Louis Delmas. In the draft, the Lions added raw but explosive defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who will be put to work by Lions defensive line coach Jim Washburn. Second-round cornerback Darius Slay will compete for immediate playing time.

The Lions appeared to finally dig their way out of the doldrums making the playoffs two seasons ago. After doing a lot of housecleaning this offseason, the Lions should have a more balanced offense with some top-flight weapons and a tough, physical defense. Will it be enough to move up in a very deep NFC North division?

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