Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions: Matchups, prediction for struggling teams with rookie head coaches

The Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions game has massive implications on the possibility of each team securing the top pick in the draft.

The Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions game could be a battle for the top spot in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Eagles and Lions are both in contention for the No. 1 pick, while Philadelphia is actually in the battle twice, thanks to a short-sighted Round 1 trade-up by the Miami Dolphins last season to secure Jaylen Waddle. But what are we interested in with two basement-dweller teams heading into Sunday?

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions storylines

Both teams have rookie head coaches, with neither expected to produce a quality season in 2021. In fact, the Lions had the best odds for the first pick in the NFL Draft to start the season, which was surprising given the roster construction of the Houston Texans.

Rookie coaches receiving mixed reviews

Both Nick Sirianni and Dan Campbell are losing a bunch of football games. However, the narrative surrounding each coach couldn’t be more different.

Campbell is standing on the podium with a clear purpose, speaking deep from the heart about his team, and getting emotional about missed opportunities against clubs far better than his. He’s even hitting the media with tactful truths about his quarterback’s performance, talking about Jared Goff’s need for improvement without outright throwing him under the bus.

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Meanwhile, the Philadelphia pressure might be cracking the other rookie head coach. For example, Sirianni incorrectly went on about horticulture the other day. You don’t fertilize every day, Coach Sirianni. And you don’t need these grand metaphors to grab the attention of your team, particularly when you’re not an outstanding public speaker. We knew from Day 1 in Philadelphia that wasn’t his strong suit.

Campbell seems to be squeezing the most from a pathetic roster, while Sirianni’s Eagles are stumbling to stay afloat. But with games against the Lions, Broncos, Saints, Giants, and Jets coming up in five of their next six games, we’ll have a better idea if Sirianni is somehow special enough to fertilize daily without killing his plants.

Jalen Hurts must show improvement

One of those plants, second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts, isn’t having the best go of it as a passer right now. His ability as a runner is unquestionable. And no matter the situation with his starting status in the future, he makes for an excellent backup or change-of-pace player. He has a long NFL career ahead of him.

But I’m not seeing much as a passer that shows me he’s a future franchise starter. However, it is essential to note that he’s effectively a rookie, as Hurts has just four more games of action than the 2021 NFL Draft class does.

He’s shown the same flashes as the rookies have in his ability to make plays, layer throws, and deliver catchable downfield passes. However, Hurts is not getting much help schematically, and his receiving corps isn’t going out of its way to make plays.

Ultimately though, Hurts controls his destiny. If he improves throughout the final 10 games of the season, he should at least get another year as the Eagles quarterback. However, he was not a Sirianni pick, and Philadelphia should have every opportunity to draft a potential franchise QB early in the 2022 NFL Draft if they want.

In a league where patience has run incredibly thin on young quarterbacks, it will be fascinating to see how they handle the Hurts situation in the offseason if he continues to produce mixed results.

Can Lions sneak first win of the season?

When you’re 28th and 29th in offensive and defensive EPA/play, respectively, it’s tough to put together 60 minutes of complementary football at a high enough level to win games. However, the Lions battled both the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens down to the bloody end.

Unfortunately, they’ll need to get there by mucking the game up on defense because offensively, they simply don’t have the firepower to get the job done. Aside from Week 1, the Lions have been unable to put up even 20 points as a team. Luckily for Detroit, they’re playing another team struggling offensively.

If they can somehow force a few turnovers on the Eagles, they might be able to score enough points to notch their first win. Unfortunately, both running backs are questionable against the Eagles, as are multiple key defensive contributors.

Philadelphia vs. Detroit betting line and game prediction

The Eagles are a 3-point favorite on the road against the Lions, which is a perfect number for me not to want to touch it. The 48-point over/under is the number I’d be circling. If Detroit is to compete in this game, the game will have to hit the under, and probably pretty comfortably.

It’s been a long time since the Eagles dominated the Falcons in Week 1. I think they still have that in them. They take a decent lead early, and the Lions scratch and claw to make this one respectable in the end.

Eagles vs. Lions Prediction: Eagles 24, Lions 17

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