2011 Record: 10-6
Overall Series Record: 16-12-2
Record at Lincoln Financial Field: 1-0
Last Meeting: September 10, 2010 – Eagles 35, Lions 32
Game Recap: It was the game that won Michael Vick the permanent starting quarterback job for the Eagles. In his first start at quarterback in four years, Vick showed that he was back to his dynamic self, throwing for 284 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a quarterback rating of 108.0 in the Eagles' 35-point barrage. It was also a portend of things to come for the Eagles' dynamic running back, as LeSean McCoy ran for 120 yards and three touchdowns. Two days later, Andy Reid would make the announcement that sent shockwaves through the league – Vick was his quarterback.
Key Offseason Moves
In: DE Cliff Avril, LB Stephen Tulloch, T Jeff Backus, CB Jacob Lacey, T Riley Reiff
Out: CB Eric Wright
The Eagles will head into their bye with a difficult NFC game that could wind up having serious playoff implications. After their first playoff appearance since 1999, it was an offseason of maintenance for the Detroit Lions, as they re-signed several key contributors to last year's 10-6 squad. Tulloch and Backus both return to Detroit after testing the open market and Avril comes back after receiving the franchise tag. The only import of note is cornerback Jacob Lacey, who started 10 games last season for the Indianapolis Colts and will serve as secondary depth. The Lions also added Reiff, the Iowa offensive tackle, with the 23rd overall pick in April's draft, though he is expected to begin as a backup to Backus and right tackle Gosder Cherilus.
The most notable move the Lions made this offseason, however, was the extension of wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who led the league last year with a ridiculous 1,681 receiving yards. Johnson, 6-5, 239, is one of the more dominant offensive players in today's game and certainly requires special attention on every play. Rest assured that the Eagles' strategy for covering Johnson will be a focus leading up to this matchup. In Johnson's only prior game against the Eagles, he was held to four catches for 50 yards.
Part of what makes Johnson such a daunting player to cover is his superhuman athleticism. One of the few players in the league whose name can even be entered in the same conversation as Johnsons' ath-letically though is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who shared some of the duties in covering Johnson when the Cardinals and Lions met in 2009. Not only was Johnson held to 35 yards receiving in that game, but Rodgers-Cromartie registered two interceptions, one on a pass intended for Johnson.
Defensively, the Lions are made in similar mold to the Eagles, which harkens back to the Tennessee Titans of the 2000's, when Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was the defensive coordinator working alongside Jim Washburn. Now, the Lions and Eagles often employ the (stop if you've heard this be-fore) "wide-nine" defensive line technique. The Eagles led the league with 50 sacks last season, while the Lions' defensive line is notably on the rise thanks to the interior presence of Ndamukong Suh and last year's first-round pick Nick Fairley and the pass rushing of Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch. Needless to say, the Eagles' offensive line will have their work cut out for them.
The Lions' secondary is more suspect, however, and the Eagles could be able to take advantage of their potent passing weapons. DeSean Jackson had 135 yards receiving and a touchdown back when the two teams met at Ford Field in 2009, which complemented a breakout game from McCoy, who topped 100 yards rushing in a game for the first time in his career. Now, McCoy is one of the league's best running backs and he'll have ample opportunity against a Lions defense that ranked 30th in the league last season in yards allowed per rush (5.0).