We've talked all through the X's and O's this week. You know the challenges the Eagles defense has against a high-powered Detroit passing game and a running attack that hasn't gotten untracked to date. The offense has to win the line of scrimmage, and then we'll see how the other pieces fall into place.
Special teams? Something has to give, right? The Lions have been a disaster with four returns for touchdown allowed in the last two games and the Eagles haven't had a big return in five games.
You know all about this game. Geez, we've been waiting a full week to see the Eagles get back into action, to see how much they learned in that last-second loss in Pittsburgh and to see what kind of focus they have in the final game before the 2012 bye.
Part of me thinks this is going to be a high-scoring affair, as many of the Eagles-Lions games have been. The weather is going to be great, the sense of desperation is going to be high for both teams and, I don't know, it's just a feeling.
But I don't see the Eagles with a defense that is going to give up a lot of points in any week. They have to respect the quick-strike ability of the Lions, so there's going to be an element of safety within the scheme. This is a great test in coverage for safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman. They have to follow the golden rule against Detroit: Do not allow the Lions to get anything deep. Why would safeties bite on play-action fakes against a team that hasn't run the ball worth a lick through four games?
Certainly, the early story is how the Eagles will try to contain star wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who is 6 feet 5 and super fast. Single coverage is inviting trouble, but how much attention can Juan Castillo devote to one player within his scheme? Is there such a thing as too much attention paid toward Calvin Johnson?
Offensively, hey, it's all about Michael Vick, ball security, scoring touchdowns in the red zone, balance in the run/pass game ... the usual. There ain't a whole lot different about this week, other than the fact that it's the game that sends the Eagles into the bye week with either a pretty good feeling at 4-2 or, well, let's not consider the alternative. Suffice to say, this is a large, large game.
With that in mind, head coach Andy Reid has a license to go for it in this game. Play it with reckless -- if need be -- aggressiveness and get a win and enjoy the bye week. Do what it takes. The Eagles enter the game in good shape from a health standpoint and they've got fresh legs, enough to combat a team fresh off of its bye week.
I want to see how much fire the Eagles have early in the game. They've been unable to score early -- just 7 first-quarter points this season -- and I want to see what Marty Mornhinweg draws up in that first drive. The Eagles desperately need to get a jump on Detroit in this game. They can't allow the Lions to hang around and force the sun-splashed crowd at Lincoln Financial Field to lose their voices.
It's time, finally, for the Eagles to show what they are capable of being, and to get to 4-2 and take some momentum into the bye week. Once upon a not-long-ago time in the Reid years, the game before the bye was one to be nervous about. The Eagles seemed to come out more flat than not. Last year's win in FedEx Field against the Redskins finally dispelled that idea.
Now this is just another game, another big one at home against a Lions team as desperate as a team can be. The Eagles are going to have to beat the best the Lions can give. Detroit will play a great football game.
So must the Eagles. It's time. Enough of the down-to-the-wire thrillers, in three of which the Eagles overcame all of their mistakes to emerge with wins. Isn't it time we saw the complete 2012 Philadelphia Eagles?